The Hanover Co-op Food Stores' Sustainable Packaging Reduces Farmers' Costs and Waste

Throughout the year New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility collects "Just One Thing" stories of sustainability initiatives from across the state, in the areas of community, environment and workplace. These leading efforts are then showcased as part of NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. Last year the Hanover Co-op Food Stores won NHBSR's 2018 Sustainability Slam for its invaluable contributions to New Hampshire communities.


(Photo Credits: Allan Reetz)

Founded in 1936, the Hanover Co-op Food Stores is the second largest food cooperative in the nation and among the oldest. By the nature of being a cooperative, the Hanover Co-op is deeply rooted and invested in its community, the Upper Valley Region of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Walk down the aisles of the Hanover Co-op and you'll see herbs from Putney, mixed salad greens from Concord, carrots from Plainfield and mushrooms from Danville among some of its all natural and organic local offerings. The Co-op is proud of its partnerships with local farmers and investments in local economies.

"We have very close relationships with our farmers and are committed to supporting them," remarks Allan Reetz, Director of Public Relations at the Hanover Co-op Food Stores, . "We understand that running a farm is a very expensive operation with lots of risks. Our concern for our farmers' struggles, along with our focus on sustainability and community issues, means that we are constantly seeking ways to do things better."

Allan considers the Co-op's winning Just One Thing story at NHBSR's Sustainability Slam last fall "a classic triple bottom line story." In 90-seconds, the event's presentation format, Allan described how the Co-op partnered with local farmers to revamp containers used to transport farm produce to the stores of the Hanover Co-op.

The Co-op subsidizes 75% of farmers' costs to purchase durable plastic crates. Unlike the cardboard and wax alternatives that are thrown in the dumpster after just a few uses (cardboard coated in wax cannot be recycled), reusable plastic crates have a lifespan beyond 10 years. By choosing this more sustainable form of packaging, the Co-op's farmers have not only saved over $15,000, but have also diverted 8,000 cardboard boxes from the landfill. Not to mention, the produce itself is better protected from the elements and there's no risk that the bottom of the plastic crates will drop out.

You can learn more about this initiative and other sustainability efforts throughout the state by attending NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. "We, as business people," says Allan, "have so little time to do our work, but the Slam is one of those things that is well worth making time for. It's an incredibly fun way to get inspired by what's happening in the state and to learn from the most successful sustainability programs in New England.


Connect with Allan at our Sustainability Slam on Nov 7 at Labelle Winery in Amherst, NH! Any company or nonprofit in New Hampshire is welcomed to attend the Sustainability Slam and submit a Just One Thing story at Top submissions will be featured in the NH Business Review and presented at the Slam. This year's Sustainability Slam presenting sponsor is Velcro.

**Stories submitted by August 21 get entered into a drawing for free Sustainability Slam tickets and those submitted by August 14 get entered in twice!


Watch Hanover Co-op's winning Just One Thing story video here.


Submit your Just One Thing story here.