At the end of March, Natural Grocers estimates it eliminated more than 300 million single-use plastic bags and reached $1 million in total donations to food banks associated with all 152 Natural Grocers stores.
Since Earth Day 2009, Natural Grocers has fought to reduce single-use plastic bags and end food insecurity in the communities it serves, by eliminating single-use plastic bags from checkout lanes and by donating 5 cents to local food banks every time a customer shops with a reusable bag.
"We are drowning in a sea of plastic, which is causing harm to people and the planet. Additionally, there are people in our communities who are food insecure,” said Heather Isely, Natural Grocers executive vice president, in a statement. “Ten years ago, we saw an opportunity to make a difference and address both plastic waste and hunger simultaneously. So, we decided to eliminate single-use plastic bags at checkout and provide a 5-cent donation to our local food banks every time a customer remembered to bring in their reusable bags."
In the 10 years since this initiative began, the company has hit two milestones: $1 million in monetary donations to the local food banks and the elimination of more than 300 million single-use plastic bags from the environment. The $1 million translates to Natural Grocers providing more than 4 million meals to those in need.
"The impact of eliminating single-use bags from our stores is enormous," said Natural Grocers Co-president Kemper Isely in a statement. "As a business, the ripple effect of our choices can redefine the future. Ten years ago, we chose to ditch single-use bags during checkout. We thank our customers for supporting this important initiative over the past decade and for making the decision to shop with reusable bags."
Through April, the organic and natural retailer said it will double its donation to local food banks. Instead of donating 5 cents per shopping trip, Natural Grocers will donate 10 cents. Nearly 70 food banks in 19 states benefit from the donations accumulated when customers bring in their reusable shopping bags. Food Bank of the Rockies is the largest beneficiary and is affiliated with 25 stores in Denver.
In addition, during April, Natural Grocers will donate $1 for each purchase of the new Ladybug Love reusable shopping bag.
"We hope our customers make a renewed effort to shop with reusable shopping bags during the month of April—and every day—because their local community food bank and the environment benefits every time they do," added Isely.
Natural Grocers' green practices include supporting sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices and reducing its carbon footprint by searching for and implementing greener practices including:
- Innovative heating and cooling practices
- LED lighting
- Pull-down covers on store refrigeration units
- Insulated buildings
- Repurposing existing buildings whenever possible
- Using sustainable, non-toxic construction materials
- Solar-powered store signs and paper towel dispensers
- Formaldehyde-free stores
- Eliminating and reducing indoor air pollutants by using non-toxic construction materials, including no and low-VOC (volatile organic chemical) paint
- Using and selling only non-toxic cleaning and sanitizing products
- Minimum-sufficient packaging on Natural Grocers brand products
- Recycling shipping pallets and the plastic used to wrap them
- Upcycling most of the cardboard used to ship products to its stores by reusing it to box groceries and supplements
- Composting at select stores
- Community gardens at select stores