In honor of Earth Day, New Seasons Market has released its annual Sustainability Report, Taking Care of Each Other and Our Environment. The report shares the impacts of the company’s environmental practices including a 15 percent reduction in landfill-bound waste and the use of wind energy to keep almost three million tons of carbon out of the atmosphere (the equivalent of planting 155,000 trees). The report also shines a light on the efforts of employees and neighbors to make the Portland metropolitan area a great place to live, work, and play.

“Being good stewards of the environment and our neighborhoods is in New Seasons Market’s DNA. The idea of taking care of each other and the environment is central to what we are about, and we are proud to have partnered with staff and our communities to make a real difference,” said Lisa Sedlar, New Seasons Market president and chief executive officer. “But we also know there is more that can be done. Each year, as we put together our annual report, we not only celebrate our wins, we identify how we can continue improving our processes and our actions so that our region thrives.”

One particularly effective area of focus is New Seasons Market’s Food Waste Prevention and Recovery program, which the company has been expanding for the last decade. The core intention of the program is to prevent food waste and to donate and compost the rest. As a result, in 2011, New Seasons Market composted 4,820,000 pounds of food waste and donated 1,040 tons of edible, nutritious food to the community.

Because of this leadership, New Seasons Market was the first grocery in Oregon to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food Waste Recovery Challenge. The company also became an EPA WasteWise Endorser, charged with disseminating best practices and building broader awareness around the importance of waste prevention and recovery. Through these and other efforts over the last five years, New Seasons Market has reduced its landfill waste by 50 percent and plans to improve upon that reduction in the years to come.

“Sending trash to a landfill is unsustainable,” said Heather Schmidt, New Seasons Market sustainability manager. “The key is to prevent waste. At New Seasons Market, what had traditionally been considered waste actually has tremendous worth. Shifting our paradigm from waste to worth reveals the true value in the resources and the costs that are embedded in our waste, providing a model in which prevention and recovery are possible and successful. It’s a matter of embracing a different way of thinking.”