Last Earth Day we made big news when we launched our BYOB—Bring Your Own Bag—initiative, wherein we began to charge customers $.10 for every paper bag we used, and donate those monies to a different local charity each month. The goal? To cut our use of paper bags in half, year over year. And while we’re still striving to meet that goal, we made incredible headway by cutting our paper bag usage by 30% in a year’s time. (Incidentally, fewer paper bags meant a savings of $3,900 for Rising Tide Market…all of which and more was donated to 11 different local charities. Thanks to this planet-saving program we were able to donate $5,000 to these charities from 2017-18, and we’re still going strong!)
With BYOB, we are clearly representing a movement that’s gaining ground in our neck of the woods. Suffolk County passed a $.05 plastic bag fee in January, and The village of Sea Cliff followed suit last month. The issue is certain to come up in our hometown of Glen Cove before you know it, and we will most certainly be on the front lines, encouraging this Earth-positive change.
As Earth Day approaches again, we’re excited to fill you in on a new planet-forward partnership we’re exceedingly proud of. Climate Collaborative—a coalition of concerned businesses from the natural products industry working collaboratively to catalyze bold action, amplify the voice of business, and promote sound policy to reverse climate change—was introduced to us last year by INFRA, a coalition of independent retailers that has played a vital role in the day-to-day workings of our business for close to a decade. (INFRA’s mission, incidentally, coalesces beautifully with that of the Climate Collaborative: To strengthen our members through collaboration to forge a sustainable future.) As Rising Tide has always been dedicated to doing its part to protect the planet for future generations, we didn’t hesitate to sign on, and immediately went to work evaluating our impact on the environment and changes we could make to mitigate it.
Commitment to Change
“Change isn’t easy for most people,”says Jerry Farrell, Rising Tide founder and owner for 42 years. “Every time we take action to lighten our carbon footprint, it is a change that comes from our customers first. They are always pointing us in this direction, and they always appreciate these changes once we’ve committed to them. This is just how our customers are.”
“Pretty soon Glen Cove will be faced with a decision to require a tax on plastic bags and there will be more debate on this topic,” Jerry continues. “For us, and for our customers, this is an easy decision to make, and Rising Tide will take a leadership role.”
As a condition of our partnership, the Climate Collaborative has asked each member to commit to four of nine innovative and practical climate initiatives. Rising Tide has chosen the following:
1. Food Waste. We’ve already begun the process of reducing food waste in our supply chain, by implementing a system for tracking waste. The next step: analyzing the waste to see where we can create efficiencies.
2. Energy Efficiency. We’ve taken steps in this area by switching our lightbulbs and refrigeration to LED lighting. When we move to the new store, we’ll also be looking to source a more energy-efficient and better quality freon for our refrigeration.
3. Packaging. As most of our customers already know, we made the decision to eliminate plastic bags five years ago. More recently, last year, we took the additional step to charge our customers $.05 for each paper bag we give out, and then to donate those monies to a different local charity each month (see above). As we move forward, we’ll also be looking closely at all of our single-use items (tableware, straws, food containers) and finding ways to source the most sustainable, eco-friendly products. Through our relationship with INFRA and the Climate Collaborative, we are able to see what other stores throughout the country are doing in this area. Some of the stores in California, for example, are using mason jars for their soups, and reusable containers for water, laundry detergent etc. This is the kind of thing we would like to implement when we move to the new store.
4. Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy. We’re committed to supporting legislation that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy; increases investment in a clean energy economy; supports climate change adaptation; and puts a price on carbon emissions. INFRA, the trade organization that represents Rising Tide and hundreds of other independent natural food retailers, is actively lobbying in all of the above areas. Through INFRA we are able to stay abreast of all the important legislation that impacts organics, the food supply, and other topics that affect our customers and our business.
Stay tuned for more about our relationship with the Climate Collaborative and how it will help us walk the path to sustainability for years to come.