Last month, our General Manager presented the Board of Directors with the Co-op’s state of sustainability through our annual Policy B9: Sustainability Report monitoring process. This is just one of many policies the Board monitors each year, however this report contained some exciting updates and significant advancements in the Co-op’s sustainability efforts and therefore I wanted to share some of these achievements with our Owners.
To give you some background on how the Co-op defines and measures sustainability, here is what our Policy states: “[The Co-op] follows an inclusive definition of ‘sustainability’ that encompasses three primary pillars: our communities, our environment and economic equity. We strive through our operations to increase our resource efficiency and better serve our Owners and larger communities while remaining an economically viable organization.”
Much of this important work, and the metrics put in place to measure it, have been laid out by the Co-op’s Sustainability Committee comprised of management and staff. The specific areas of focus where we strive to achieve progress toward our sustainability goals include:
- Distribution and Sourcing: products sourced from cooperatives, local vendors and reputable companies that function in responsible, ethical and environmentally sound ways
- Packaging: procure products with sustainable packaging that minimizes packaging waste or can be reused or recycled
- Consumer Education: provide information for Owners to best economize their options for purchasing and opportunities to learn about healthy, ethically sourced food
- Labor: implement policies, procedures, trainings, reporting structures to ensure commitment to sound labor practices; work with growers/producers to assure labor rights for farm workers
- Organic & Animal Welfare: promote organic production, processing and consumption through product choice/education; prioritize animal welfare in product selection
- Climate Change: Minimize our direct and indirect emissions of greenhouse gases
- Energy: increase efficiency for energy consumption in our operations without compromising the Co-op’s primary mission
- Water: reduce our use of city water; raise awareness of regional/local water issues through information sharing; reduce storm water runoff from our sites
- Waste: minimize waste generation and divert waste to landfill through strategies of reducing, reusing and recycling materials
- Finance: maintain financially viable business in keeping with the Co-op’s values and mission; focus on strengthening community capital
The report on the actions we’ve taken and progress toward these focus areas was more than 30 pages, so I don’t have space to detail everything here, but I’d like to highlight a few key achievements and results from the past year:
- As a result of our reusable bag incentive program, in 2014 Owners saved 525,200 new bags from being used by bringing in their own reusable bags instead.
- The Co-op employed 348 staff members at the end of 2014. Of those, 273 were full-time staff, 73 were part-time staff. Of those, 312 were eligible for health care benefits and 202 were eligible to participate in the Co-op’s 401(k) program. The starting wage for an entry-level position is $10.48/hour.
- In 2014, the Committee for an Inclusive Co-op (CIC) was formed to comprehensively address racial inequalities within the organization. This group, along with the Board’s Intersectionality Committee, will be leaders for positive change around this issue in our community.
- In 2014, the Co-op sold $8,206,318.46 of fresh products certified organic by the USDA.
- We have established a baseline for Greenhouse Gas Emissions for each site using EPA calculation methods—for future reports, 2014 numbers will be used for comparisons.
2015 will continue to build on these efforts, and we’ll stretch to accomplish even more in the ways of improved policies (such as with our Boycott Policy), programs (ex: growing our Local Vendor Loan Fund), partnerships (like with HowGood to provide producer responsibility ratings) and equipment (i.e., more solar panels). You can read more about the Co-op’s sustainability efforts on our website’s sustainable practices page: www.willystreet.coop/our-sustainable-practices.
On Tuesday, February 10th, Willy West voted on whether or not they wanted to be represented by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1473. Workers turned out for the vote, with an impressive showing of 89% of eligible voters.
At the close of the vote, 102 ballots were cast among the 114 eligible voters. 50 voted against representation, 43 voted in favor of representation, 1 vote was invalid and 8 ballots were subject to challenges. The challenged ballots were sealed and delivered to the NLRB Regional Director and will be addressed according to NLRB procedures if necessary.
Between the time this publication goes to print, and the time you are reading this, there will likely be more recent updates we would like to share with Owners, so please look to our website or Facebook page for the most recent news.