Saturday, November 29, 2008

Education for Sustainability Field, Organic Food Category

Emcee: Debra Poneman

Whole Foods Market considers respect for the environment and a commitment to recycling and re-use at every opportunity a high priority. The Company is uniquely mission-driven because it bases all of its business practices on its passion for natural and organic foods, love for all people, and respect for the planet.

Most of the Company’s stores participate in a composting program where food waste and compostable paper goods are regenerated into compost. Each store has a Green Mission Team, an internal task force composed of Team Members who inform and improve green actions for their store.

Whole Foods Market’s downtown Austin and Sarasota stores are recognized for their sustainable green building practices and are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. Recently, the Chicago South Loop store was the first in the Company to earn LEED Gold certification.

Additionally, many stores serve as a collection point for shoppers to recycle their plastic bags and the company was the first U.S. supermarket to commit to completely eliminating disposable plastic grocery bags to help protect the environment and conserve resources. Whole Foods Market also has won the prestigious EPA Green Power award consecutively for the past four years for its renewable energy credit purchases.

Here to accept the award on behalf of Whole Foods Market is Michael Bashaw, Regional Vice President of Store Design and Development and Matthew Toavs, Regional Green Mission Specialist.

Michael’s involvement with store design and development entails looking at all our stores through a "green" prism to make each one as efficient and sustainable as possible. From the folks from whom we buy our food to packaging and shipping and eventually selling it in responsibly built, energy efficient stores – Michael ensures the region examines the entire process with an eye to reducing the Company’s footprint on the environment without sacrificing quality. Michael’s proudest achievement thus far was overseeing the construction of Whole Foods Market’s first store to achieve LEED Gold Certification, Whole Foods Market South Loop, Chicago.

As Regional Financial Analyst and Green Mission Specialist for Whole Foods Market’s Midwest Region, Matthew Toavs brings academic and practical experience in sustainable agriculture and environmental education to the task of helping Whole Foods Market evolve into a more sustainable company. Matthew worked on the team that empowered Whole Foods Market to make its landmark purchase of renewable energy credits – more than 458,000 megawatt-hours – from wind farms to offset 100% of the electricity used in all of its stores, facilities, bake houses, distribution centers, regional offices and national headquarters in the United States and Canada.