Being Sustainable

“Sustainability takes forever. And that’s the point.” – William McDonough

At The Common Market, the word “sustainability” is used a lot—it’s one of the core values of the co-op. But what does “sustainability” actually mean? It can be confusing because the word may have multiple meanings.

By definition, sustainability is the study of the functioning of natural systems—how they remain diverse and produce everything needed for balanced ecology—and how civilization uses resources to continue modern living. EnvironmentalScience.org lists three cores of sustainability: economic development, social development, and environmental protection. In essence, it incorporates not only biodiversity and ecological endurance, but also the methods needed to ensure survival of the Earth and its people.

How does this connect to your co-op?

The Common Market strives to provide customers and Owners with sustainable products. This means providing products that are organic and/or locally-sourced. It also means creating Food Standards that ensure fair treatment of animals and that the farming and fishing practices used by food distributors do not further endanger other animals or the environment.

In fact, The Common Market uses and abides by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. This program helps consumers make better choices in regards to seafood. This means The Common Market sells only environmentally-friendly seafood from sources trusted to farm or fish in responsible ways. This is where our Seafood Code comes from.

But traditional meat lovers need not be concerned—we have a Meat Code as well, ensuring customers and Owners can purchase meat that has limited environmental impact. This code includes the requirements that animals be treated humanely; fed an exclusively chemical-free vegetarian diet; ensured a safe and chemical-free living environment; free of additional and artificial antibiotics, hormones, and/or parasiticides; transported in a way that minimizes stress to the animal; and slaughtered in a humane manner.

In addition to Food Standards, The Common Market also sources Fair Trade items. Fair Trade ensures social, environmental, and economic standards were upheld in the creation of the product. It supports responsible businesses, empowers workers, and ensures a healthier environment.

How is this sustainability?

By providing customers and Owners with organic, locally-sourced products, The Common Market—and, in turn, our customers—supports local farmers, thereby supporting the local economy. By offering Fair Trade Certified products, we ensure the support of economic and social development for workers involved in the farming or development of the product. By developing Food Standards that incorporate other environmentally-conscious programs and have minimal detrimental environmental impact, we are doing our part to ensure environmental protection.

So the next time you shop at The Common Market, you can not only know what “sustainability” means, but also feel comfortable in supporting it.