Yoke’s Slashes Paper Use, Touts Other Eco-Friendly Moves

In an effort to eliminate paper use and demonstrate its commitment to the environment, Yoke’s Fresh Markets has reduced the volume of printed materials for its Monthly Savings Guides -- by over 100 tons.

Instead of inserting the guide into area newspapers, Yoke’s now makes it available to everyone online at Yokesfoods.com, and sends just a few copies to each store. “This saves 145 tons of paper a year from going into landfills,” explains Denny York, VP at Spokane, Wash.-based Yoke’s. “And this is just the next step in our efforts to be a part of the green movement.”

York says that acting with environmental consciousness is one of the company’s core principles. It impacts daily operational decisions and drives ongoing company-wide initiatives. Other earth-friendly initiatives at Yoke’s include:

• Supporting Local Farmers: Since 2000, Yoke’s has worked hard to support local growers, ranchers and orchards.
• “Totally Degradable” Plastic Bags: Yoke’s was the first grocery company in the United States to shift to this sustainable plastic alternative.
• Cloth Reusable Bags: Yoke’s customers have the option of reusing their bags instead of paper or plastic. “Last year we credited our customers back $23,021 for reusing cloth bags and saved over 57,600 pounds of paper going into our landfills,” said York.
• Energy Conservation: Yoke’s has worked with local power suppliers to implement energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration and heating/air conditioning programs.
• Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL): Yoke’s has converted from florescent lighting to CFL.
• Side Windows: Installing side windows to increase natural light in stores.
• Lights out: Yoke’s turns off two-thirds of its florescent lighting from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. (and all non-florescent lighting during those hours), and all exterior lighting from midnight to 5 a.m.
• Smart Car Promotion: Yoke’s chose the Smart Car as the grand prize for its Brain Food Trivia Contest (yokesfoods.com/brainfood) because the vehicle is fuel-efficient and manufactured with recycled metal and parts.
• Recycling: Yoke’s recycles plastic into plastic bags, cooking grease into biodiesel, and corrugated cardboard into bales (sold at Yoke’s).
• Nature’s Corner: A store within a store that carries natural and organic products including grocery, refrigerated and frozen foods, nonfoods and cleaning products.
• Windmill Farms Produce Departments: Yoke’s produce departments carry more than 100 organic products.
• “Never-Ever” “roducts: Pork, Beef, Lamb, Veal & Chicken from animals that have “never ever” been exposed to antibiotics or hormones.
• Retro-Plated Floors: Several stores have installed retro-plated flooring (rather than tile flooring) that requires no buffing, waxing or stripping. This conserves energy and eliminates chemical use.
• Packaging: Many Yoke’s vendors and manufacturers are choosing to package in recyclable cardboard rather than plastic.
• Refrigeration and Frozen Equipment: Yoke’s equipment purchasing decisions rely heavily on the product’s energy-efficiency.

Yoke’s operates 12 stores in the Spokane area and Tri-Cities, Wash., and Sandpoint and Kellogg, Idaho.
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