by Melissa Elkins, Sustainability Coordinator
After adding staff wages and local service contracts and applying the local multiplier effect, shopping at the Co-op kept more than $30 million circulating in our local economy in 2015.
We focused even more on local and Washington state suppliers in 2015, purchasing a whopping 14.3 percent of our products from producers in our region.
Co-op staff use alternative transportation for 31% of their total commuting miles.
Our electric car chargers at the Cordata store made 1,522 electric car charges—displacing 1,193 gallons of fuel.
We diverted 92 percent of our total waste from the landfill.
When it comes to sustainability, we're proud to be a community (and national!) leader.
Connection to community is something that has always attracted people to Bellingham—we are lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, in my opinion, and a vast number of us care deeply about our city for myriad reasons. The Co-op itself is a direct reflection of our community, as its values and business practices have always been shaped specifically by those who live and work in Whatcom County. To that end, sustainability isn’t something that requires any special consideration in our organization—it is so ingrained in our structure that we live those values every day.
At the Co-op, local isn’t a buzzword, it’s an important part of the framework that makes us who we are.
We have come to realize the value of sharing those practices, so we are proud to say that our third annual sustainability report was published in June for fiscal year 2015. It requires the collection of data that encompasses our entire scope of business—from labor practices to purchasing practices and from resource use to education. The collected data is compiled into an extensive report detailing our successes and areas for improvement.
Following are just a few highlights from 2015:
- Cordata store became LEED certified in June 2015
- LED lighting was installed throughout the Cordata store and Downtown bakery cafe
- We started purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to offset 100 percent of our electricity use organization wide in June 2015
- As a result, we were named as a member of the EPA Green Power Leadership Club, one of only about 400 businesses in the entire country
- We eliminated plastic packaging from our deli counters in December 2015, which we expect will remove over 25,000 plastic containers from the local waste stream in 2016
- We carried 587 fairly traded items. Co-op shoppers can feel good knowing that the people who work hard to produce these products are being treated fairly. Look for fair trade items in our grocery, wellness, and produce departments.
- We joined the Domestic Fair Trade Association—currently, we are the only retail business in the DFTA north of Seattle.
We track these numbers so we can work to improve. Every year we set the bar, then we work to raise it.
Read the complete report at