Co-op Climate Commitment

November 16, 2017

Sustainability, both in our operations and the products we carry, has been part of our mission since 1979.  Accordingly, we joined the “We Are Still In” campaign, a list of some 2.3 million businesses and individuals.

This coalition of cities, state halls, colleges, businesses and investors has pledged to help keep global warming below two degrees centigrade.  We agree that climate change is real and that businesses and communities need to be leaders in helping to find solutions.  This is particularly important given the recent U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

No retail consumer business is a perfect example of operating completely sustainably.  We do our best, however, to make choices that help save our planet.  Whenever possible, we choose to purchase food and operate in ways that are the best option for the environment.  In a competitive landscape, we are always seeking ways to offer the most sustainable food (whether it be local grassfed beef or organic vegetables) while meeting the needs of our customers. In a competitive retail market, finding this balance isn’t always easy.

Our Climate Commitment provides our business with a set of realistic goals to reduce our own greenhouse gases and do what we can to fight climate change.

Most Recent Efforts

  • We installed 330 new LED lights throughout Co-op West Main. They use up to 75 percent less energy than our old ones.
  • We installed new coolers (with doors) for beer and chill items. These are five times more efficient than the old ones.
  • We installed new produce coolers which are 35 percent more efficient than the old ones.
  • The solar panels atop Co-op West Main heat our water.  This summer, the water heater rarely used natural gas to heat the Co-op’s water.  
  • Every week, we compost more than 2,000 pounds of organic food waste from our prepared food operations, amounting to approximately 100,000 pounds since we began the program in August 2016. This food waste is composted at Strike Farms in Bozeman where they use it to grow local, organic food.
  • We continued to prioritize the purchase of local and/or organic food in our food service operations.  Last year, this amounted to 500,000 pounds of organic and local produce, grain and meat that was used in our prepared food, baked goods and salad bar.  This is approximately 70 percent of our total food service purchases. These efforts support organic and sustainable farming and ranching practices, protect open space and decrease food transportation.

New Goals for 2018

  • We will purchase 2,500 whitebark pine rust-resistant seedlings ($5,000 total) to be planted in the Millie Creek Fire area, located about 20 miles south of Bozeman. The Millie Creek Fire (approximately five miles as the crow flies from Hyalite Reservoir) burned more than 10,000 acres of whitebark pine habitat in 2012.

    Why Whitebark Pine?
  • Whitebark pine is an important species in our ecosystem that is rapidly dwindling due to: White pine blister rust, outbreaks of mountain pine beetles, increased competition from shade-loving trees caused by fire suppression and global warming. The purchase of these seedlings will help us offset carbon dioxide from our business operations and provide important habitat for grizzly bears, elk, deer and other native species. We are working with the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation on this project, a science-based non-profit devoted to the preservation of high elevation western whitebark pine ecosystems.
  • We plan to replace all non LED lightbulbs at Co-op West Main by the end of 2018. We will increase our commitment to Montana-grown and/or organic food in 2018. Our goal is to purchase 515,000 pounds or more of organic and Montana-grown food for our made-from-scratch meals, good-to-go items, baked goods and salad bar.
  • We will incorporate a number of green elements into our new, expanded building.

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