This past June the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors approved significant revisions to Policy B9. Originally called the “Green Policy,” the Board amended the title to “Sustainability Policy” and, at the recommendation of the Co-op’s Sustainability Committee, instituted a new, more comprehensive degree of focus for the organization. In August of 2013, the Board approved the very first Willy Street Co-op Sustainability Report. We all learned a lot over the course of writing this monitoring report. Since this is your Co-op, we wanted to share both the Policy language and some highlights of the report with you!

Sustainability Committee
Policy B9: The Sustainability Policy has two discreet sections. The first states that the General Manager shall “manage and utilize a Sustainability Committee as needed.” In the spring of 2011 Anya Firszt, Willy Street Co-op’s General Manager, formed the first Willy Street Co-op Sustainability Committee. Comprised of nine Owners with experience and expertise in various “green” topics (green building, energy conservation, process facilitation, etc), the committee also included a few key staff (the Director of Cooperative Services, the Operations Manager, the GM and the Executive Assistant). The Committee had three initial goals:

  1. Define what “sustainability” means for our Co-op
  2. Select focus areas for our sustainability efforts (detailed below).
  3. Identify monitoring baselines and some initial opportunities for further action in those key areas.


The Committee’s work culminated in the revised Policy B9 language approved by the Board in June.

Key Areas of Focus for Willy Street Co-op
After many months of research and discussion, including reviewing sustainability policies and reports from other co-ops, the committee selected ten key areas of focus for the Willy Street Co-op. The order in which they appear in the policy is not indicative of any sort of ranked important—they are equally significant. Management is charged with achieving progress in each of the areas of focus. The policy language for each key point is included below, along with one interesting “Did You Know?” piece of info from the full sustainability report. If you’re curious to learn more, check out our website—the full report is posted at  www.willystreet.coop/files/sustainability-report.pdf for your review.

#1: Distribution & Sourcing
“Maintain commitment to sourcing products from cooperatives, local vendors and reputable companies that function in responsible, ethical and environmentally sound ways.”

Did You Know?
The Willy Street Co-op Produce Departments worked with over 33 local produce vendors in the 2013 growing season (not including local produce sourced through regional distributors). That accounts for a total of roughly 20% of the produce offerings over the course of the year and that percentage continues to increase!

#2: Packaging
“Produce sustainable packaging products that will reduce overall packaging and/or can be reused or recycled but also fit its desired function.”

Did You Know?    
Since January of 2013 both East and West Delis have been using rPET plastic containers, which are 100% recyclable in the cities of Madison and Middleton.

#3: Consumer Education
“Provide information in multiple formats and arenas concentrating on opportunities for Owners and others to economize their food buying options into the foreseeable future. Address the growing awareness across social and economic consumer demographics with respect to increasing wellness through the foods we eat and their origins.”

Did You Know?
The Co-op has an entire department devoted to providing consumer education, called the Cooperative Services Department. In addition to the many other services they provide, the Co-op Services team organizes classes and store tours, provides in-store resources on a wide variety of topics, and also provides information on key health concerns, like a gluten-free product list and a non-GMO project list.

#4: Labor
“Implement company policies, procedures, trainings, and internal reporting structures to ensure commitment to sound labor practices. Work with growers and producers to assure labor rights for farm workers and communities.”

Did You Know?
The Co-op offers a robust benefits package that includes (among other things), health and dental insurance at three months with access to domestic partner coverage, a living wage compensation model, metro and bike travel benefits and personal leaves of absence for up to six months. The Co-op Board also has another monitoring policy called “Policy B1: Staff Relations, Compensation and Benefits Policy,” that tracks our Co-op’s labor practices in greater depth each year.

#5: Organic & Animal Welfare
“Promote organic production, processing and consumption through product choice and education within the bounds of affordability and availability. Prioritize animal welfare in animal product selection.”

Did You Know?
Approximately 98% of the produce we offer is certified organic, and the majority of the conventional sales in that department is for non-certified produce that isn’t available organically (think young green coconuts, jicama, etc.). When sourcing non-organic local product, buyers are careful to work with growers that practice sustainable agriculture.

#6: Climate Change
“Minimize direct and indirect emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Did You Know?
Natural gas consumption at the Co-op has been reduced by approximately 450-500 therms per year since the spring of 2010, when a solar thermal system was installed on the Willy East store to supply hot water. This saves about 3 tons of CO2 annually.

#7: Energy
“Reduce energy consumption associated with all aspects of operations provided that can be accomplished without compromising the Co-op’s primary mission.”

Did You Know?
Night covers have been installed on produce coolers at Willy West and Willy East. The energy savings from these night covers is being tracked, but is already significant enough to result in additional covers being phased in on other open-air coolers at both locations.

#8: Water
“Reduce our use of city water, raise awareness of regional and local water issues through education and information sharing, and reduce storm water runoff from our sites.”

Did You Know?
The Willy East store uses an extensive rain garden to reduce storm water runoff from the rooftop and side parking lot. Although the Willy West location does not afford the opportunity for a rain garden, Store Manager Mike Byrne has installed many planters that consume some amount of rainfall.

#9: Waste
“Minimize waste generation and divert waste from the landfill through strategies of reducing, reusing and recycling the materials involved in its operations.”

Did You Know?
This past July the Co-op hosted a zero-waste AMP and diverted 96% of waste at the event away from the landfill! The total waste produced during the party was 1,198lbs; of that amount 1,040 (86%) was composted and 101 lbs (8%) was recyclable. Only 57 lbs (6%) was landfill trash.

#10: Finance
“Maintain a financially viable business in keeping with the Co-op’s values and Mission. Focus on strengthening community capital.”

Did You Know?
The Board has a standing Finance Committee comprised of Owners, Board Members and the GM. This group meets monthly to monitor the Co-op’s finances and vets the financial merits of various budgets and opportunities.