Natural Foods Merchandiser
ellwood thompsons retailer of the year finalist

Ellwood Thompsons: eco-friendly from all angles

Retailer of the Year: Sustainability finalist

Ellwood Thompson’s, a natural foods market in Richmond, Virginia, has been serving its community since 1989, when it opened as City Market in a 3,000-square-foot facility. Since then, the store has evolved into a 20,000-square-foot community anchor, offering a full-service shopping experience complete with an onsite bakery, coffee and juice bar, meat and seafood departments and a 600-square-foot community room. This is how sustainability takes center stage at Ellwood Thompson’s:

Waste reduction and donation. Ellwood Thompson’s “quarter bin program” helps reduce food waste by offering nearly expired items and imperfect foods such as bruised apples to employees for 25 cents. Expired produce is fed to animals living in Richmond’s Maymont Park. Ellwood Thompson’s also donates food to Food Not Bombs, a grassroots organization that feeds the needy every Sunday in Monroe Park.

Reusing and recycling. Roughly 60 percent of grocery waste gets recycled thanks to an in-house program. Plus, the store composts most of its food scraps and leftover juice pulp and then either donates the compost to local farmers or sends it to a company that transforms it into organic fertilizer later sold at Ellwood Thompson’s. Shoppers are incentivized to purchase reusable BPA-free plastic containers, and the store provides compostable containers for to-go items and real dishes in the café and eateries.

Storewide conservation. Rain barrels, LED lighting and solar panels help conserve energy throughout the store, which was built with locally sourced and reclaimed materials. Ellwood Thompson’s Envirocredit program gives customers who walk, bike, bus or get to the store in another eco-friendly fashion 25 cents off their total purchase. Most store signage is chalkboards, which nixes the need to throw away signs every time a price changes or sale ends.

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