Our new eco-program addresses global warming, and enables innovative recycling of our foam shipping cubes
by Randy Hartnell and Craig Weatherby
Since our first day in business, we've sold only sustainably harvested wild seafood, donated a portion of our profits to planet-protecting programs, and tried to be “green” in other ways.
So we're pleased to announce Vital Green™... our new effort to reduce the environmental impact of shipping food direct to you.
Vital Green™ includes three key components:
- Tackles Global Warming by offsetting the estimated global warming impacts of our shipments to you.
- Enables Recycling of Foam Shipping Cubes through our innovative free CubeCycle™ program. Now you can send our shipping cubes to recycling centers via FedEx… at no cost to you.
- Promotes a Green Partnership with green tips for customers, and some insights into our steps toward sustainability.
Here are the basics… for full details, visit our Vital Green™ page.
Vital Green™ Part 1—Offsetting the warming effects of our shipments
Working through NativeEnergy, Inc., we help fund a family dairy farm's green technology program, which converts greenhouse gas emissions into renewable energy.
Our share of the Brubaker Family Dairy Farm Methane Project will offset the total estimated global warming effects of the carbon dioxide emitted by air and ground shipments to our customers from July 10, 2008 through July 9, 2009.
This same project was chosen to offset the carbon emissions associated with production of Vice President Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
And our contribution takes into account the added warming effects of jet emissions at high altitudes… an effect called “radiative forcing.”
Jet cargo and passenger planes cruise at high altitudes, where carbon emissions exert greater positive radiative forcing effect than would the same emissions at ground level.
We choose to cover the estimated additional warming associated with Vital Choice air shipments... a choice that doubles the cost of our annual warming-offset contribution.
Learn more here.
Vital Green™ Part 2—Recycle your Vital Choice foam shipping cubes
Very few municipal recycling programs accept the foam (extruded polystyrene or EPS) containers that we and thousands of other firms use to ship perishables.
Foam containers are actually pretty eco-friendly to start, as explained below.
And customers have been able to ship their used Vital Choice shipping cubes back to us for recycling. But that program has been cumbersome and energy-inefficient.
So we developed CubeCycle™—America's very first practical EPS-recycling program, to make Vital Choice a greener place to shop.
After many months of working with FedEx and plastics recyclers, this unique, innovative part of our Vital Green™ program enables Vital Choice customers to recycle our foam shipping cubes in an energy-efficient manner, at no cost to them.
It's pretty simple. After you receive a shipment from us in a foam cube, go to our VitalGreen™ page and follow the instructions there.
CubeCycle™ involves three steps:
- You'll provide your home address, so that we can present a list of nearby FedEx drop-off centers.
- We take you to a FedEx page where you can print out a shipping label addressed to the nearest recycling center that accepts foam EPS cubes.
- Take your cube(s) to the nearest FedEx center, and they will ship it to the nearest recycling center at no charge to you (We pay the shipping charge).
For detailed instructions on how to recycle your Vital Choice foam shipping cubes, visit our VitalGreen™ page.
We hope that you let us know about your experience with CubeCycle™, so that we can fix any “bugs” you encounter.
Please bear with us, should you encounter any problems with this unprecedented experiment. We've tested CubeCycle™ thoroughly, but we always expect the unexpected!
So that you can send comments or questions easily, there's an email link near the top of our Vital Green™ page ... or go to our Customer Service page for contact information.
Foam shipping cubes: a surprisingly green technology
Polystyrene foam (EPS) shipping containers ensure that our highly perishable foods arrive in optimum condition at the lowest possible cost.
While EPS is not presently bio-degradable, these containers offer many benefits:
- Safe and light-weight, with the least eco-impact of any suitable packaging material (EPS is 99% air).
- Insulates and cushions contents well.
- EPS is very strong and moisture resistant.
- No green house (HCFC) gases are produced to make EPS.
- Their low weight minimizes energy used for transportation, and curbs product costs.
- EPS can be reused or efficiently recycled into new products at a growing number of centers around the country.
Learn more here.
Vital Green™ Part 3—Our green partnership with Vital Choice customers
To make shopping as “green” as possible, retailers and shoppers need to partner up.
Here's what we do, and what you can do:
Our Part—what Vital Choice does to maximize sustainability
- We source ONLY sustainably harvested seafood species, and natural and organically grown farmed products.
- We process our seafood near the source (Some seafood is shipped thousands of miles for processing in distant countries).
- Our innovative VitalGreen™ program facilitates recycling of our EPS shipping cubes. We expect the program to serve as a model for other companies.
- Our VitalGreen™ program also offsets the global warming effects of our shipments to customers, by funding a family dairy farm's project to convert greenhouse gas emissions into renewable energy.
- Wherever possible, we adopt post-consumer paper and non-toxic, vegetable-based inks for packaging and printed materials.
- Many of our employees work in home-based offices, eliminating commute-associated carbon emissions.
- Our Vital Choices email newsletter has minuscule environmental impact, compared with paper.
- We attend sustainability conferences and seminars to keep abreast of current environmental issues and solutions.
- We donate thousands of dollars annually to environmental organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Marine Stewardship Council, the Raincoast Research Foundation, the National Resources Defense Council, and others working to protect our planet.
Your Part—suggested steps to support sustainability
- Reduce the number of shipments you receive by placing fewer, larger orders instead of more small orders. This typically lowers your cost per pound… try combining your orders with those of friends and other family members!
- Reuse the shipping cubes as storage boxes, coolers, building toys (over age 6), and planters (Do you have other ideas? Please share them with us by sending an email here).
- Recycle Vital Choice shipping cubes by following the instructions provided above.
We know that there are built-in barriers to being a completely impact-free food retailer, but we are determined to do all we can.
Thanks for helping lighten our collective impact on the environment!