Earthly Independents

Green's the word for many on-trend supermarket operators.

Inspired by the fact that more consumers and retailers are increasingly interested in how every little green thing counts year-round, this month's Progressive Grocer Independent follows suit by offering an eco-friendly angle in each story and column.

Canadian grocer, regular PG Indy columnist and Independent Grocer Network (IGN) blogger Neil Kudrinko gives his perspective on sustainability and talks about some of his company's initiatives in this area, including the use of a free online tool that can help you determine your carbon footprint.

Consultant Bob Savage, another regular IGN blogger, offers some tips on how independent grocers can indeed profit from being green, and poses an interesting question about the future of charging stations for electric cars. Judging from the number of Nissan Leaf commercials I've seen lately, I agree with his view that there is a future in charging stations. You can share your thoughts with us on this topic via the discussion forum on IGN.

Finally, our cover story on E.W. James & Sons shows a different side of Mother Nature — her destructive side — in terms of a fire that destroyed its Troy, Tenn., store just one month after its grand opening. What interested me so much about the story in discussing it with Steve Hilton, the grocer's director of marketing, is that it highlights just how tight those bonds are between independent grocers and the communities in which they serve.

Not only did the grocer make extra efforts to continue serving its community, via a makeshift store, as it rebuilt the Troy facility, but the community pitched in to help as well. And even this story has a green angle: The rebuilt store became the company's first green concept store, including sustainable practices in its construction and operation, as well as energy-efficient equipment and lighting, and the use of recycled materials for signage.

Green Indies

I'd be remiss if I didn't recognize other independent grocers that have made great strides in sustainability, in honor of Earth Day, which was observed this year on April 22. Here are some that we've covered recently; to see the full stories, visit us online at

Weis Whacks Wattage: As part of a chain-wide program to reduce energy usage and conserve resources, Weis Markets' distribution center in Milton, Pa., recently upgraded its lighting system with low-watt fluorescent and LED lighting, which lowers the 1.1 million-square-foot facility's energy usage and costs by 30 percent.

D'Agostino's Kid-designed Paper-Bags: Shoppers at select Manhattan D'Agostino Supermarket locations on April 22 had their groceries packed in paper bags decorated for Earth Day by nursery school and preschool children.

Wegmans Reduces Print Flyers: Wegmans Food Markets reduced the frequency of its print flyer production to twice monthly as of April 24.

Rosauers Taps Solar Power: A Rosauers Supermarket in Hood River, Ore., now features a 15,000-square-foot, 91.9-kilowatt solar electric system as part of an overall sustainability initiative, which also includes the adoption of recycling, reclamation, reusable bags, and high-efficiency lighting and refrigeration.

WinCo Goes Green: WinCo Foods' newest discount supermarket in Tacoma, Wash., makes extensive use of sustainable technologies that deliver energy efficiencies and savings of from 5 percent to 25 percent on refrigeration, heating, cooling, and lighting the store and product cases.

Giant Eagle Green Bag Giveaway: From April 14 to April 20, Giant Eagle customers received a free reusable bag (normally sold for 99 cents) when purchasing any two participating products under numerous popular natural and organic brands — including grocer's own Nature's Basket — with a Giant Eagle Advantage Card.

Keep up the great green work!

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