Thursday, April 17, 2008

We're a "2008 BEST Practices for Sustainability Award" Winner

This morning we were really honored to be the 2008 City of Portland BEST Award Winner for “BEST Practices for Sustainability” for a large company. “BEST” stands for Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow. Since 1993, the BEST Awards have been presented annually to Portland area companies demonstrating excellence in business practices that promote economic growth and environmental benefits. I was particularly proud to be able to attend the breakfast with Robby Berg, Kate O’Malley and Nate Kay. They are New Seasons Market staff who provide leadership for the Green Teams in their stores. All of our Green Team members have been our internal champions for increasing our focus on sustainability.

It took a village to create a green dream here in the Portland area. Daring entrepreneurs, consumers willing to vote with their dollars, environmental advocates, and courageous civic leaders have all joined to build a foundation for a new kind of community. Judging by the number of people in attendance at the BEST award breakfast, the seeds of change have been sown for a green revolution city-wide. One of the things that I love about attending the BEST Award Breakfast is that it reminds me that there are thousands of people working to make our city sustainable. Who knew there was such a thing as a green dentist? I didn’t until today. We sure are glad to be part of this village.

Other winners this morning were Full Sail Brewing Company, Hawthorne Auto Clinic (highly recommended—this is where I take my car for service), Mint Dental Works, Yolo Colorhouse, The Civic and The Morrison (for Green Buildings), Laughing Planet CafĂ© and Your Backyard Farmer. All of these companies have great stories to tell and are worth checking into.

Another highlight of the morning was a presentation about global warming by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. What was particularly cool about Bill’s talk was that he has adapted Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” slide show to include local and Northwest examples. Bill is doing this presentation regularly around the state and it is definitely worth seeing if you have the chance.

Heather Schmidt, one of the leaders of the sustainability efforts at our company, put together our application for the BEST awards. I have to admit that even I was taken aback (in a good way) to see a fairly comprehensive list of all of the things that we’re up to. A handful of examples are:
  • Reclaiming waste heat from our refrigeration systems to heat water in our stores.
  • Our company wide effort to encourage alternative methods of transportation by our staff, including subsidized Tri-Met passes.
  • Our leadership in the food composting program. We've been doing this for over five years and our compost represents over 13% of all food waste that is composted in the entire Metro region.
  • Our Home Grown program which allows us to focus on local, sustainable farmers, ranchers, fishers and manufacturers when stock our stores.
  • We've created bioswales, a series of planter-like ditches and rain sculptures to divert storm water from the sewers at three of our stores. The bioswales are full of native plants and improve the water quality and livability of our community.
I’m posting the actual application here, with lots more information, so you can see for yourself what your ongoing support has allowed us to do. Thanks for that.