Blush Lane: how taking responsibility for their impact guides their sustainability strategy

Blush Lane, an organic market with five locations in Calgary and Edmonton and an organic orchard in Keremeos, B.C., seeks to improve the land that feeds us. They put the planet first by promoting sustainable agriculture, ethical practices, and environmentally conscious actions. Sustainability is at the heart of everything they do, but there are three main themes that stand out: packaging, community, and food waste.

Taking responsibility for packaging

It’s no secret that plastic is polluting Earth’s ecosystems and harming wildlife. Between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, according to figures published in the journal Science in 2015. That’s the equivalent of between 27 thousand and 70 thousand blue whales’ worth of plastic.

But plastic has come to be an essential part of our food industry. It keeps food fresh for longer, it doesn’t take up a lot of room, and it’s lightweight—which reduces the costs and greenhouse gases associated with shipping.

Blush Lane recognizes both the benefits and drawbacks of plastic, and their approach to packaging is nothing short of radical. They believe that, as a retailer, they’re responsible for the packaging they put into the world. That’s why they launched the Takeback program, a packaging recycling program designed to reduce waste and inspire other retailers to also take responsibility for their packaging.

Stand-up pouches from Blush Lane’s sister brand, Be Fresh, can now be returned in-store to be recycled properly with Terracycle. When you bring in five Be Fresh pouches, you’ll receive $5 off the next Be Fresh pink pouch product. Since starting this program, Blush Lane has recycled thousands of bags.

Blush Lane was also an early adopter of a bring-your-own-container bulk program. They have always had a bulk section, but in January of 2019 they installed scales in each store so people could bring and weigh their own containers—it was a simple solution with a huge impact. Bags are still available for people who forget their containers, but Blush Lane noted that their customers really value the opportunity to cut back on waste.

In light of COVID-19, Bush Lane has temporarily suspended their Takeback and bulk programs. They plan to reinstate these sustainability programs as soon as possible, but they’re currently focused on keeping staff and customers safe.

Nurturing community

Blush Lane looks at sustainability from a social perspective as well as an environmental one. They strive to give back to people in their area and to build a sense of community among local organizations—they do so by hosting event in their stores and by participating in social initiatives.

One of their more popular initiatives is the No Woman Without campaign that takes place in February. Shoppers can bring menstrual care products to any Blush Lane location, where they’ll be donated to women in crisis. The stores also offer discounts on some products that you can purchase to be donated. Last year, Blush Lane helped collect more than 10,000 units!

Tackling food waste

Food waste is a major problem in Canada—63% of the food waste thrown away by Canadians could have been eaten. Blush Lane has three major ways of dealing with food waste: avoiding surpluses wherever possible, diverting excess food to those in need, and returning any inevitable waste back to the soil.

Blush Lane uses a “just in time” system for food ordering. They order perishable food from SPUD.ca, their supplier, on an as-needed basis so that excess food is mitigated before it even gets into the store.

They also deal with food waste at a store level. When food gets close to its expiry date, Blush Lane partners with local aid organizations that donate it to people that are food insecure. If there are items that cannot be picked up, they are bundled together and highly discounted for staff to purchase and take home.

When extra food can’t be avoided, sold, or donated, a local organic waste hauler turns it into organic compost that can then be sold. Some of Blush Lane’s warehouses also send food scraps back to farmers, where they can be used to feed livestock. These measures recycle the nutrients in food waste and help create a more circular economy.

Healthy food, healthy life

It stands to reason that our food providers should care for the environment that nourishes us—and Blush Lane goes above and beyond to make a positive impact on people and planet. We’re proud to have them as part of the bullfrogpowered community, and we’re thrilled that they’ve avoided 2,423 tonnes of CO2 since 2014 by choosing green energy.

Blush Lane carries many of your favourite bullfrogpowered goodies, including those from Aspen Clean, Righteous Gelato, and Carina Organics. Click here to find out how Righteous Gelato is prioritizing sustainability during an explosive increase in production.

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