At Left Coast Naturals, sustainability is at the core of all our decisions; we choose to do the right thing, not just the trendy thing. Sustainability is a never ending process of improvement, not an end goal.
We are committed to keeping our planet green and have always been concerned about the environment. We manage our impact on the planet by making changes to how we do business and by operating as efficiently as possible. We are constantly looking for ways to reduce our environmental footprint. We have made steps in the right direction, but understand we can do more.
Environmental Footprint Assessment
We feel if you want to decrease your environmental footprint, you must first assess where your biggest impacts exist. Rather than making assumptions about which areas of our business have the largest environmental impact, we hired two independent environmental specialists (Conscious Brands and 3 Point Vision) to conduct a company-wide environmental analysis. Instead of limiting ourselves to assessing our greenhouse gas emissions, we dug deep to look into other environmental factors such as water usage, soil retention, soil health, habitat safety and air quality. We not only looked inside our company, but also analyzed the entire supply chain: from the seed at the farm, to the store where you buy your groceries.
From this valuable research, we learned that 80% of our environmental footprint was concentrated in two areas: 1) how the food we sell is grown, and 2) how it is transported.
We are currently in the process of creating a sustainability score card for all of our food suppliers. It includes all growing factors and summarizes key areas where they can make changes to lower their environmental footprint. Among other things, this document takes into consideration water supply, irrigation systems, compost strategy, soil quality and retention, tillage, pest management, cover crops, conservation and genetic diversity.
Stay tuned for future updates!
In the meantime, we have not neglected the other 20% of our footprint. Here are some of the things we have done to address it.
Greening our Offices
In 2010, we renovated our offices and upgraded to many new "green" features to create a healthier, more efficient work environment for our employees, including:
- LEED-certified office workstations made from recycled materials
- non-toxic, low VOC paints and non-toxic floor finishes
- improved natural lighting, and new office lighting that consumes less energy
- more efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
We are constantly working to reduce our energy and gas consumption to the lowest levels possible.
Bullfrog Power provides all of our electricity and natural gas needs. They obtain their supplies by partnering with green, renewable energy providers across Canada, and they inject electricity and green gas equivalent to our usage back into the supply line. To learn how you can choose green energy and reduce your environmental impact, visit bullfrogpower.com.
In November 2011, we installed high-intensity T5 light fixtures in our warehouse and production facility. This reduced our energy consumption by 51% while increasing the intensity of light by 428%. And to make sure lights are only on when needed, we've installed occupancy sensor lights in less-frequently used rooms and dawn-dusk sensor lighting outside of our building.
We have programmable thermostats that maintain room temperature during office hours and minimize the heat when our building is not occupied. Our photocopier, printers, computer equipment and monitors are energy efficient. We power off lights, monitors and computers when not in use. We replace old office equipment and monitors with Energy Star-approved equipment.
We offer our employees incentives for walking, biking, using public transportation or car-pooling to work. Plus, our office is located one block from public transportation, and we have secure bike storage and shower facilities. Today, over 55% of our employees use alternative modes of transportation.
We educate our customers to order more on one truck, as fewer deliveries produce fewer emissions, and we work hard to make changes in our incoming transport to minimize our environmental impact. Whenever possible we use trains and ships rather than trucks. Our environmental footprint assessment taught us that ocean transport (32 times more efficient) and rail transport (16 times more efficient) is better for the environment than road transport.
Green Supply Chain
We choose suppliers that offer sustainable products and services, and support a strong environmental ethic. Assessing the carbon footprint is an important criterion when sourcing suppliers. Whenever possible, we source our ingredients from organic farms and growers. This, in turn, provides support to the environment through our commitment to sustainable agriculture, and by expanding the market for organic products. We buy local whenever possible.
We purchase fair trade organic coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate for our lunchrooms. We try to source local, organic, seasonal and vegetarian food for our breakfast program, office celebrations, luncheons and BBQs.
Our office supplies are purchased through a local eco-friendly, carbon neutral, office supplier of sustainably sourced pencils, inks, paperclips, etc. All paper products, from business cards to envelopes, are from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and/or are FSC-certified, and processed chlorine-free.
We use natural biodegradable non-toxic cleaners and janitorial supplies. This way we avoid breathing in harsh and toxic chemicals in the office and we don’t release chemicals into the environment when they go down the drain.
Our packaging footprint has been minimized wherever possible including: smaller bags, smaller shipping cases, solvent-free lamination bags and recyclable cardboard. We continually look for eco-friendly packaging materials that meet our performance standards, and look forward to evolving our packaging to more sustainable options, as technology advances.
We have a comprehensive waste-management system that handles multiple materials recycling (including cardboard, paper, plastic, metal, newspaper, ink toner cartridges, batteries and more) and composting. Our warehouse recycles 100% of all packaging material from supplier shipments, including cardboard, pallet wrap and wooden pallets. Reusable or biodegradable options are used in our kitchen whenever possible.
In our office, we avoid unnecessary printing and have our printer defaulted to print double-sided. We re-use office items whenever possible. Our packing slips are printed on 100% recycled paper. Our invoices are shipped with orders, customer statements are emailed or faxed to save paper and emissions, and we encourage our suppliers to do the same.