On August 9, we wrote about Organic Valley's work toward climate change and the environment. In this second installment of our three-part Sustainability at Organic Valley series, we will talk about how a business tracks its progress toward sustainability and uses the findings to work toward continual improvement.
So how are we doing in regard to sustainability as a business? The truth is it's difficult to answer this question accurately without taking measurements. Real improvement cannot be fully known unless we are able to compare/contrast where we were with where we are, and this requires documentation. To that end, we have engaged in measuring and reporting on many aspects of our business. It is our goal to further expand this in the future to document our member farms and entire supply chain. It is through gathering and analyzing data that we will be able to identify needs, efficiencies, and hopefully, triumphs. We do not wish for people to simply trust that we are doing the right things—we aim to prove it. By tracking the number of miles our trucks and company vehicles have driven on renewable fuels, and the number of kilowatts of clean renewable energy we have generated, we can document our reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. By tracking the number of employees who participate in wellness activities, we can document our commitment to the health of our staff. By tracking the number of acres we have in organic production, we can document our member-farms' potentials for sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change. The possibilities are seemingly endless.
In short, sustainability at Organic Valley builds on the mission-driven foundation that has sustained us for over 22 years. We have demonstrated an unyielding commitment to family farms through fair pay price and our farmer-owned, cooperative business model, and commitment to eaters through our products' exceptional quality. As we continue to strive to meet the high standards we’ve set for ourselves, we are prepared to layer on projects that help define the positive impact our work has and will have on the world around us. By focusing on the environment and climate change, responsible and renewable energy and documenting our efforts, we are working to ensure Organic Valley will be a worthy example of how businesses can be profitable without compromising the care of its people, its animals or the environment on which we all depend for our livelihoods.
For more information about Organic Valley’s sustainability efforts, visit www.organicvalley.coop/about-us/sustainability.
Jennifer Harrison is Sustainability Program Manager for Organic Valley. She joined OrganicValley in 2008 and manages sustainability initiatives both business-wide and on our member-farms, working toward the cooperative’s mission of social, environmental and economic sustainability—People, Planet and Profits. She has settled in Viroqua, Wisconsin, from California and is adapting to Midwest winters.