And, according to National Cooperative Grocers, food production including agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and waste, is responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, co-ops across the country are poised to be catalysts for change, prioritizing and building a more sustainable food system.

BriarPatch is a part of this movement. We’re excited to announce our 2025 Sustainability Goals and continued participation in the Climate Collaborative. Our commitment to Climate Action is rooted in our First Ends Policy: To act as a leader among local businesses and food co-ops nationally, and contribute to environmental stewardship through our business practices.

Climate Collaborative is a consortium of 694 retailers, distributors and businesses committed to elevating climate action in the natural foods industry. As a member of the Climate Collaborative, BriarPatch has pledged to lower emissions by increasing energy efficiency, reducing food waste, transitioning toward sustainable packaging and supporting climate-friendly agricultural practices and policy.

Have thoughts or questions about the Co-op’s sustainability efforts? Get in touch with BriarPatch Sustainability Coordinator Lauren Scott at

Even amidst the obstacles of 2020, BriarPatch made considerable progress towards achieving these goals. We reduced our use of refrigerants by 29%, and our solar array generated 50% of our energy use in 2020 — a 5% increase from 2019! Additionally, we’ll see greater energy savings in 2021 from projects like the LED lighting retrofit completed in November 2020.

And, we diverted over 60% of total waste from the landfill with the help of several single-stream recycling programs including single-use gloves, flexible plastic film, and waxed cardboard. It’s this kind of commitment that will carry us through to our 2025 goals…and beyond. Stay tuned!

Belly of the beast

There’s no denying it. Hydrofluorocarbon Refrigerants represent the largest single source greenhouse gas emission at BriarPatch. It’s also our greatest opportunity to clean up our act!

Since 2017, we have reduced our annual refrigerant use by 58 percent. But we’re not stopping there. By 2025, we aim to cut our use an additional 50 percent.

At our second store in Auburn, natural refrigerant systems are in the current plan. Hello future!

Now I see the light!

The Co-op gets 50 percent of its power from the sun, generated onsite by a 295-kilowatt solar carport. We want 100 percent of our power coming from renewable energy, so we are looking to add additional solar panels and batteries to increase our resiliency during power outages.

We’re getting smarter with our energy use, too. In 2020, we completed a LED lighting retrofit for the entire store and parking lot. I can see clearly now…

Just say ‘no’ – to food waste

We love food. That’s why we strive to keep 100 percent out of the landfill.

We donate edible food that cannot be sold to local hunger relief agencies like Interfaith Food Ministries, Food Bank of Nevada County and Hospitality House. Food waste that is not fit for donation is picked up by local farmers three times a week to feed animals or build compost. In 2020, we began offering food waste diversion for folks dining at BriarPatch.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Compost!

In 2020, BriarPatch increased our overall waste diversion from 53 percent to 63 percent by decreasing how much material we send to the landfill. How do we do this? Reducing, reusing, recycling and composting!

Beyond municipal recycling, we:

  • Reuse and recycle ALL cardboard – our single greatest source of material waste
  • Recycle waxed cardboard through Enviro-log
  • Recycle single use gloves throughTerracycle
  • Recycle clear plastic film through UNFI

Bye Bye Plastic

We care about the environment and the health of our shoppers. That’s why we really want to reduce in-house single use plastic packaging.

Sadly, less than 9 percent of all plastic is recycled, and an estimated 32 percent ends up in our oceans.

As we work to identify alternatives to single use plastic,we are committed to offering the most environmentally-sound packaging available to us and recognize that this is a constantly moving target.

Look for re-usable bags and containers in our Produce and Bulk Departments and when you check out. We sell and encourage the use of reusable utensils and straws. And of course, bring your own!

You can fill up your Klean Kanteen at our free water refill station in our dining area. We replaced plastic wrap on our bulk cheese with biodegradable cellophane made from wood-based fiber. Our produce department continues to work with farm-direct partners to identify the most sustainable produce packaging including paper-based Readycycle berry containers.

For more information on packaging considerations for products sold in store, please see our Merchandising Policy.

Our Green Building

BriarPatch Co-op is Nevada County’s first commercial building certified by the US Green Building Council’s LEED®: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The purpose of the LEED® program is to promote sustainable, “green” building design, and ecological approaches to site planning and land development.