Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Saving Ourselves

2007 marked the completion of stage one for our efforts to "go green" at the store. Moving to Floyd County and being exposed to a patron base that is, for the most part, sensitive to our effect on our environment has motivated us to examine every aspect of our business and how we can minimize our impact on the planet.

If you've browsed the store with care you will have noted the wide selection of "responsibility journalism" contained on our shelves. From The World Without Us to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, from The Small-Mart Revolution to Building Green, we seek out these books in the belief that you will read them and incorporate their lessons into your lives. We read them and try to apply those lessons.

In 2007 we completed a total modernization of the lighting in our store. We have precisely three incandescent bulbs remaining in our store, almost none of which are ever switched on. The other 100 or so are the most energy-efficient we can find. Our electric bill decreased more than 50%!

We haven't planted a rain garden in place of our parking lot, although if we had known how few of you would use the lot at the rear of the store we would have petitioned for a waiver of the city's requirement for 10 off-street parking spaces. We haven't installed a hydroponic roof or solar panels, but we did make sure that our walls and ceilings were insulated to the max. Yes, we leak a little heat from our massive picture windows and our aged steel and glass doors, but we often explore alternatives.

Also, 2007 marked a year in which I resolved to walk to work as much as possible. I sold my car and now hoof it. It's good for me in so many ways, and I can sleep well knowing I'm not pouring carbon dioxide into the air or lubricants and gasoline into our waterways. Part of the reason for locating where we did was to make it possible for me to do just that. We know not everyone can duplicate that, but wouldn't it be nice if we all found a way to reduce our carbon imprint.

The production and distribution of books does have an impact. You may be aware of a little book called An Inconvenient Truth, a book that helped to draw attention to Al Gore. Did you know that the design and manufacture of the book itself was done in a way to minimize its environmental impact?

Now, for 2008, we'll be going greener, trying to help transition our patrons away from plastic bags. Take a moment to read this article from Salon.com that drives home the futility of choosing the convenience and low cost of the world's worst litter-creator. Within a few days we'll be introducing elegant, economical, and reusable bags. We hope you'll consider acquiring one or more for your own use. We won't be giving them away, but we think that once you see them you'll understand why we chose them.

We are working to replace our old friends, the paper & plastic bags, with something that does their job without creating needless waste or harming the environment. Using one of these for one year replaces 300 to 700 disposable bags.

One holds the contents of 2 to 3 plastic grocery bags. Six bags can hold a whole cart full of groceries.

The bag's handles are the perfect length: you can hold them in your hand, on your forearm, or over your shoulder.

They are made from super strong rip-stop nylon (holds 25 lbs) so they are light (2 oz) and compactible. They fold into a flat 5 by 5 inch pouch that easily slips in a purse or pocket. That way they are always handy when you need them.

These bags have a nice big gusset in the bottom so they will sit flat when they are filled (good for eggs & milk.)

Changing our own shopping habits is one small thing we can do to make a difference. We hope you feel good every time you use yours.

PLASTIC BAGS & THE PLANET: The average family brings home 1,000 bags every year. Most of those bags end up in land fills. That really adds up - 100 billion plastic bags are sent to landfill in the US each year. In landfills, it can take up to 1000 years for a bag to decompose. Plastics don't biodegrade, they photo-degrade, breaking down into tiny toxic pieces that contaminate soil and water or harm wildlife. Every time you use your reusable bag instead of plastic or paper you are doing something good.

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