At California Giant Berry Farms, we've had sustainability on our mind for a long time.
When we started the journey to become more sustainable over a year ago, we were hoping to be better land stewards on farm, become paperless in our offices, reduce waste and increase efficiencies in our cooling facility. A year later, we have truly learned what sustainable means, and that the journey extends well beyond our company walls.
Here are 3 lessons in sustainability we've learned that we hope will translate into a good return when you, the shopper, bite into that sweet berry we diligently and with great care grew outside under the sun!
Reducing Waste Starts with Mindfulness
In our offices, we all work together to ensure we are reducing our carbon footprint with paperless systems and recycling. Currently we are striving towards receiving a Zero Waste Certification, which has taught us to practice "waste mindfulness."
Practicing waste mindfulness means that whether it's taking out the trash, knowing how much food is thrown away, or tracking how much your family eats, the first step is taking notice!
This type of mindfulness has helped me on my own personal sustainability journey at home. I've had to think twice about the amount of food I buy at the grocery store and how much I am throwing away. When making your weekly grocery list, keep in mind how much your family really eats. It's okay to forego the 2 lbs of meat for 1 lb if leftovers aren't popular at home, or consider freezing half for later (I'm having flashbacks to my mother's "famous" soup...)
Successful Sustainability Requires Profitability
Profit shouldn't be a dirty word. In fact, a key part of the sustainability equation is profitability, but this sometimes gets left off the page because it isn't as inspiring to the reader.
We can do everything right with the soil, our employees and our recycling programs, but at the end of the day our farmers have to make a living off the crop or all that goodness goes away quickly. Without our farmers, we simply wouldn't exist (and neither would all of those delicious berries!). Next time you purchase a clamshell of our berries, we invite you to trace them back to the farm so you can learn about where your berries came from and even who grew them.
In short, we hope to create an experience for you that is positive enough that the next time you shop, you will look for our brand and buy it again, and again. That will keep us in business and the ability to continue our journey of giving back to not only the land we grow on, but also to the farmers and families who take care of it.
Being Sustainable Doesn't Mean Organic, and it's Not a One-Step Process
When I first heard the word sustainability, like some, I thought it meant a company had to grow organically.
Actually, sustainability is defined by the University of California as: to meet society’s food and textile needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Practitioners of sustainable agriculture seek to integrate three main objectives into their work: a healthy environment, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.
This definition tells me that sustainability means striving to make a better world for the generations to come. It's not a one-step process at all; once you embark on it, you don't ever finish. The more we learn about our land and our ability to conserve and preserve, the more we want to stay in this journey to make things better for the next generation of berry farmers and berry lovers like you.
Right now we are thoughtfully trying to document our own sustainability practices in a way that is transparent and tells you something a little more about who we are as a company and a brand that hopefully you can trust.
We also hope we can inspire and help you on your own personal sustainability journey. Please check out our progress here and let us know how you are doing on your journey at home! We have found that the more we learn at work, the more we share with our families at home to be a sustainable community!