Many of us love WholeFoods for the quality of produce (always fresh) and the in-store experience (always delightful). But for many of us, there is a third important factor that makes us choose Whole Foods over its competitors, a factor that aligns this grocery store brand even closer to its mission of high standards – the commitment to sustainability.
Whole Foods is not content to just be compliant with sustainability requirements; it truly sets the bar for sustainability practices for consumers, competitors and even companies across industries. Whole Foods is leading the charge in sustainability activism across three main dimensions: suppliers, product sourcing, and energy independence.
Investing in the supply chain: supporting its suppliers.
It’s obvious as we walk through the aisles that the company cares about who they work with, but not everybody realizes that they are offering $8 million in annual small interest loans to small organic farmers annually. Whole Foods understands the link between organic farming and its effects on reversing climate change. The soil has a unique ability to reverse climate change but only when the health of the soil is maintained through regenerative organic agriculture .
Packing and product sourcing: taking a stand on GMOs, palm oil, sustainable seafood, and bulk packaging.Whole Foods is leading by example by putting in place progressive measures designed to protect and preserve our environment. They became the first grocery chain in the US committed to always explicitly labeling GMO products because Whole Foods believes that customers have the right to know. Today you can find over 30,000 organic and 13,500 Non-GMO Project Verified products at Whole Foods.  Because palm oil production contributes to deforestation of tropical rain forest ecosystems around the world, Whole Foods strictly limits usage of palm oil to only Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified sustainable oil products amongst its suppliers.  Greenpeace ranked Whole Foods first place for the third year in a row in its “Carting Away the Oceans” report.  Not only Whole Foods is selling only sustainable seafood across all departments , the company also is calling on the US government to enforce laws against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as urging protection of the Bering Sea Canyons. However, Greenpeace is still calling Whole Foods to stop selling Chilean Sea Bass, which Greenpeace includes on its list of threatened species.
Commitment to alternative energy sources, electric vehicles and biodiesel.
The Wind and solar energy play an important role in company’s sustainability strategy. By using wind energy, Whole Foods are avoiding 551,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution. This is equivalent to not consuming 1,200,000 barrels of oil or avoiding the annual electricity usage of 65,000 average-sized homes. Solar power is also used to supplement traditional power sources in stores. As of 2015, Whole Foods was using solar power in about 25 stores, which over time will result in more than 2.2 million kilowatt hours produced and saved and over 1,650 tons of-of CO2 emissions avoided.  In addition, Whole Foods created 45 electric vehicle charging stations at various stores and is working on additional 31 in 2016-2017.  also, truck fleet is being converted to biodiesel fuels, which will result in lower GHG emissions.
Without a doubt, climate change will continue to have a direct impact on Whole Foods, as more and more farmers and produce suppliers get affected by extreme weather and droughts. But if anyone is on the right track to having its sustainability game figures out, it’s Whole Foods.