Environmental Policy

[As approved by the June 1992 General Meeting]
[Amended by the July 1998 General Meeting]

The Coop will strive to support the best products and practices in regard to the health, safety, and preservation of humans, animals, and the overall biosphere that it can achieve.

This is said with a clear understanding that the Coop membership includes people from widely varying cultures, needs, and economic capabilities, which must be accommodated.

Policy on Products

The Coop will:

Maximize provision of foods and cosmetics which are organically and/or regionally grown, cruelty-free and otherwise environmentally benign, although items already carried which do not meet these criteria will continue to be sold.

Sell no products that are irradiated or contain irradiated ingredients.

Sell no products that are genetically engineered or contain products of genetic engineering, except that sales of genetically engineered products shall not be discontinued unless there is a similarly priced equivalent product that is not genetically engineered. Genetically engineered products for which there are adequate substitutes as described above shall be replaced as quickly as possible by the substitute product. The Coop staff, in cooperation with the Environmental Committee, shall work to identify substitute products where none has yet been identified. At this time, as genetically engineered products or products containing genetically engineered inputs are not labeled as such, for the purpose of this policy, products shall be considered to be genetically engineered if they contain non-organically produced ingredients that are known to be commercially available in genetically engineered form, or that are known to be produced with commercially available genetically engineered inputs.

Carry only food on which ingredients are listed; this will include Coop-bagged items after the purchase of new scales with additional printing capacity. Every effort will be made to verify ingredients and claims when suspect.

Make every effort to sell as much food and as many products as possible in bulk, and continue to educate members about bringing reusable bags and containers with them when they shop.

To put this policy into effect, the Environmental Committee will review products currently sold by the Coop. Where products are problematic based on the criteria below, the Committee will investigate environmentally superior alternatives to be sold alongside the original product, and begin to educate members about the product via Gazette articles, signs by the item on the shelf, or handouts, as appropriate.

Environmental Committee members will also informally monitor new products that appear on the shelves, and when questions arise, discuss them with the Coordinators.

Assessment of products shall be based upon but not limited to the following criteria:

Avoiding toxic substances, whether in a product’s ingredients, production process, or use and disposal, particularly (but not limited to) avoiding use of products made with chlorine bleach and petroleum products.

Minimizing disposable products, by seeking durable alternatives and/or alternatives which have recycled content.

Achieving environmentally sound packaging, by avoiding products with excessive packaging and with packaging manufactured with chlorine bleach , toxic inks, or petroleum products and encouraging the ordering of products with recyclable packaging or packaging with recycled content.

Reducing energy use in transportation, by seeking comparable, locally grown products (and where appropriate, locally produced products) to replace those transported cross country or from other countries.

Avoiding animal testing by seeking products which have not been tested on animals.

Avoiding products which are irradiated or genetically engineered or which contain irradiated or genetically engineered ingredients.

The Committee, in consultation with the coordinators and the membership, shall develop a proposal for supporting corporate responsibility by boycotting products made by companies which have demonstrated extreme levels of environmental irresponsibility, as indicated by their presence on lists such as the “Ten Companies with the Worst Environmental Records” of the Council on Economic Priorities and other similar lists the Environmental Committee may consult, and shall present such proposal to the General Meeting.

In making recommendations, the Environmental Committee shall also take into account these non-environmental factors:

  • The need to keep the number of distributors to a minimum
  • Availability of shelf space and how many similar items the Coop carries
  • Affordability of alternatives
  • Salability

The Committee will also, semi-annually, bring a list of products it finds of serious concern to the coordinator who is liaison to the Committee, with a recommendation to remove those products, along with the rationale for each recommendation. At that time, attention would be focused more intensively on educating members about the problems with these items.

If the Environmental Committee and the Coordinators cannot easily work out an agreement on removal of any items or substitution of an alternative product, the item would be sent to a Review Committee consisting of :

Two members of the Environmental Committee

Three or four Coop members at large representing a range of interests, for whom it would not be a work slot (see below for recommended selection process)

If the Review Committee could not reach agreement, the item would be sent to the GM for a vote.

Policy on Practices

Coop policy will include the following:

If organic produce is available at the same or a lower price and comparable quality to non-organically-grown produce, we will not carry the non-organically grown item.

When price and quality of two items are comparable and both make environmental claims, the Coop will carry only the environmentally superior product.

The Coop, through the Environmental Committee, will conduct periodic waste, energy and water use audits and will seek pro bono technical assistance from the membership to do so. The results of this audit process will inform the Coordinators and Membership about whether practices in each of these areas could be improved and what would be required to do so.

The Coop will seek to support members who want to avoid auto use in the conduct of Coop business.

The Coop will use recycled paper products in both the office and store, including but not limited to : copy paper, computer paper, envelopes, ruled pads, flyers, Gazette, etc. Every effort will be made to use products which contain a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content, and which are not chlorine-bleached.

The Coop will expand its present office-waste recycling program and cardboard recycling program to include a source separated recycling program for all waste generated within the Coop (recognizing that there may not always be feasible markets for all materials).

The Coop, through the Environmental Committee will make every effort to educate members on environmental concerns through Gazette articles and reprinted handouts, fact sheets, orientation sheets, displays, lectures, and workshops.

The Environmental Committee shall send a letter to the manufacturer and supplier of any product that the Coop decides to remove, stating our actions and reasons.

Policy Revisions

This policy will be regularly reviewed and revised based on input from all Coop constituencies, on experience in implementing the policy, and on new information and changing environmental realities.

Suggested process for selecting members of Reviewing Committee from general Coop membership: After a discussion between coordinators and the Environmental Committee to identify what some of the different interests might be, a Gazette article could put out a call for volunteers representing these interests.