Food for a Sustainable Future

It can sometimes feel like Earth Day, April 22, gets overlooked or pushed aside, and yet the day is extremely important, especially for a sustainable future. Here at Harmons, Kate Whitbeck, director of sustainability, thinks about the earth every day, and pretty much all day.

Her job at Harmons is to help us reach our goals as a sustainable company, keeping in mind all the ways we do take steps to be earth-friendly, and bringing up places where we can do better.

Harmons Believes in Being Green

Harmons has always focused on being green, creating a cardboard recycling program in 2000; a food waste diversion program in 2008; and a food rescue program in 2010, among other things. In 2020 we recycled 3,270 tons of cardboard. That means 55,590 trees didn’t have to die.

We also have a food rescue program, donating edible food to the Utah Food Bank. Unlike many other grocers, Harmons pulls fresh food from the shelf before its expiration date, so that it won’t be sold close to its expiration, and will offer fresher nutrient content for all the Utah families it feeds.

Through our food waste diversion program we send tons of food—around 2725 tons a year—to an animal feed operation, or an anaerobic digester that turns the waste into pipeline grade natural gas.

Kate Whitbeck checks out food waste headed to an anaerobic digester that will turn it into natural gas. 

Solar Panels, LED Lighting, Compostable Packaging and More

Kate talks about other ways we are working for a green, sustainable future, such as using LED lighting in our new stores and solar panels on the roof of our Santa Clara store, which provides 40 percent of the store’s electricity. Our Mountain View and Traverse Mountain stores have sky lights to take advantage of natural light, which means less electricity is used.

With today’s knowledge on the troubles with plastics in landfills and oceans, it’s good to know that Harmons is looking for a way to use compostable packaging whenever possible. We even use bowls made from fiber-based sugarcane in our Kitchen, and paper straws in our cafés.

We are also planning for the future, as we plan to put charging stations at our stores that will quickly charge electric cars and other forms of electric transportation. We currently have one at our City Creek location, and seven more are planned to be installed this summer.

Reusable Bags

One way that everyone can help reduce our impact on the earth is to use reusable bags for your grocery shopping, and in April, in celebration of Earth Day and Earth Month, Foodie Club members are rewarded for bringing in their reusable bags, receiving 10 points every time they use a reusable bag. In addition, from April 18-24, 2021, all the proceeds from every reusable bag purchased will be donated to UCAIR, an organization that focuses on improving Utah’s air.

On the left, Bob Harmon shows off one of our canvas reusable bags.

One program that is near and dear to Kate’s heart is B-Corp, a certification program that evaluates businesses according to the highest standard of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. You can find over 500 B-Corp certified products in Harmons, and the knowledge can help you to shop responsibly. All you have to do is look for the B-Corp logo.

Kate goes into a lot more detail in the podcast, explaining the differences green efforts make in very relatable terms.

We hope you listen to blog and find new ways to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure a safe and healthy future for all.

Kate Whitbeck

Kate Whitbeck is Harmons’ director of sustainability. She is a profound believer in the powers of the plant-based diet as a solution to climate change. Unfortunately, her bacon habit continues to thwart her ability to embrace plants for every meal.

If you enjoyed this podcast, you’ll want to listen to our other episodes. You can find them here. Recent episodes include Eating a Plant-Based Diet with Chef Callyn Graf and The Science of Bread with Jason Lindsey.

At Harmons, we’re lucky to have incredibly talented artists at each store, and we’re sure you’ve seen their amazing chalk art as you wander throughout every location. We’re excited to be able to feature some of their work as the featured art on our podcast blog. This art is the work of James Bennion, the artist at our Bangerter Crossing location.