ENVISIONING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE CO-OP
As some of you may have read in last year’s Co-op News, an Ecological Planning Committee has formed here at the Olympia Food Co-op. We are happy to implement the work from the Olympia Food Co-op mission statement that, “strives to
make human effects on the earth positive
As with many committees at the Co-op and with other projects in life, creating success depends on a certain amount of planning and vision as well as following tangible steps towards goals. The Ecological Planning Committee has been no exception.
There are many steps the Co-op has already taken over the years to show a great awareness of sustainability. The work staff has done in the realms of recycling and reducing waste, no and low toxin use in the stores, benefits for staff people, and supporting other social sustainability needs in the Olympia community are just a few of those steps.
OUR VISION OF SUSTAINABILITY
The Olympia Food Co-op envisions a cooperative store that is a positive contributor to local and global ecology and a model for sustainability. We envision a Co-op community that is ecologically informed and empowered to participate in sustainability and ecological innovation.
To help us gain a shared understanding of sustainability, our committee received training in a system called: The Natural Step. Utilizing this framework over the past year, we held brainstorm sessions with both staff collectives as well as at an open member meeting. This brainstorm asked questions such as:
What would it look like if the Olympia Food Co-op were 100% sustainable?
What is the Co-op already doing to support sustainability?
What could we do better?
From this brainstorm we have been identifying areas in which to focus our work. The likely four categories for the Co-op are: transportation, facilities, products, and community. Within these areas, all of the four natural step areas are also contained, which can be described as: energy, solid waste and water, toxicity, and social justice.
Simultaneously, in 2006, we contacted the “Energy Smart Grocer Program,” an affiliate of Puget Sound Energy. Through our connection with them, we will soon have more energy efficient lighting installed – the cost of which will be offset after only 14 months! We will also be installing night curtains on the open produce and cheese coolers to save energy at nighttime, when the store is closed. The energy pay back for the cost of these will be met after only one year!
WHERE WE’RE GOING
For the coming year, we will continue to work on “low hanging fruit” (smaller, more easily reached goals) while working toward our long term vision. We will also draw a timeline from the vision backwards. This will help us divide our work into incremental goals, broken down by category.
As we continue this work, we hope to form action groups to address specific areas. We also will continue communicating our process and progress through regular Co-op News pieces, reports, and workshops.
by Marie Poland, staff member