Sustainability goes beyond Earth Day at Metcalfe’s Market
The local grocer has a number of environmentally friendly initiatives that it practices year round, and it’s “why” is a lesson for businesses of all types.
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Earth Day — April 22 — is less than a week away, but environmentally conscious business initiatives shouldn’t only be practiced or celebrated one day a year.
According to a 2017 Cone Communications corporate social responsibility study, 86 percent of U.S. consumers expect companies to act on social and environmental issues.
Moreover, the study shows that 67 percent of Americans don’t trust corporations to act responsibly on social and environmental issues without the push of government regulation. Just 13 percent of consumers believe business presents the greatest potential to solve social and environmental issues.
“Now, consumers are no longer just asking, ‘What do you stand for,’ but also, ‘What do you stand up for?’” says Alison DaSilva, executive VP of CSR strategy at Cone Communications.
Recognizing this, Metcalfe’s at Hilldale is just one local business that has made a strong commitment to sustainability all year long.
The grocery store is 100 percent green powered through the purchase of renewable energy credits. Metcalfe’s at Hilldale also uses energy-saving night shades to cover its open produce coolers at night in order to conserve the cold air in them and save energy.
“We have a ‘why’ that we live by at Metcalfe’s — we connect and enrich people, our community, and beyond,” says Kevin Metcalfe, director of operations and fourth generation co-owner of Metcalfe’s. “One of the ways we do that is through sustainability efforts. It’s our responsibility as business owners to make sure we leave things better than we found them. It starts with where food comes from — things like how it has been farmed, raised, produced, and grown and how far it’s traveled to get to our shelves — and how we work to communicate those things to our shoppers.
“Sustainable seafood is another example. Our seafood program is certified by an independent, third-party organization called Fishwise that helps us to promote the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices,” Metcalfe adds.
At the other end of the cycle is food waste, according to Metcalfe. In the U.S., $165 billion worth of food is wasted each year and 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten. In order to help combat the food waste epidemic, Metcalfe’s has a compost program with Purple Cow Organics where Purple Cow collects all of Metcalfe’s non-consumable produce and makes it into compost, which Metcalfe’s sells at its stores each spring. Metcalfe’s also works with DateCheckPro to raise shopper awareness of soon-to-expire items and offer shoppers a savings on those items, and by selling those items, ensuring they won’t end up in a landfill.
In terms of return on investment, Metcalfe says a commitment to green power sources doesn’t cut costs in and of itself. However, using clean, renewable energy sources is an investment the company believes must be made for the benefit of the communities it operates in.
“Clean energy is better for our growing environments, and we want to do what we can do to support our local farmers and producers,” notes Metcalfe. “[However,] things like our LED lighting upgrade see a tangible ROI. We worked with MGE’s Shared Savings program to replace 3,000 lamps and fixtures at our Hilldale market with LED lighting. The project cost around $200,000, but the upgrade is expected to yield $58,000 in annual energy savings, which is more than half of this location’s lighting costs.
“Additionally, maintenance savings are estimated to be more than $12,000 annually. We will realize a full return on this investment in about three years.”