Every year, around the world, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, a day marked by global efforts to raise awareness about the environmental concerns of our time. This April, we extended that celebration to fill the entire calendar and could not have had such a successful Earth Month without our community partners.

On April 27, we partnered with Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD) to host Sustainability Saturday, a day focused on ways people can reuse and reduce their impact. Events included a book and clothing swap, as well as battery and cell phone recycling, with 8 gallons of batteries dropped off. Many folks took with them new treasures to enjoy, items which will end up in a new home rather than a landfill. CVSWMD also presented two workshops in our community room, one on compost, the other on recycling, attended by 31 enthusiastic community members.

During the day, our Featured Community Partner, North Branch Nature Center, was at the Co-op tabling, and we matched all of the Give Change register round-up donations made on that day. The total amount collected during the month for North Branch is $1,018.05. Many thanks to all of our community members who rounded up their purchase or otherwise donated at the register.

We’d like to thank all of the local environmental organizations who presented workshops at the Co-op during Earth Month, including The Nature Conservancy, Vermont Land Trust, Vermont River Conservancy, Friends of the Winooski River, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Catamount Solar, Community Harvest of Central Vermont, Vermont Fresh Network, Montpelier Vineyards and North Branch Nature Center. A total of 95 people attended the environmentally-themed programs and learned about a range of topics from the American Elm to Montpelier and its rivers, living off the grid, and more.

Every day of the year, our Co-op strives for less waste, potentially even zero waste, and the smallest environmental impact possible. We do this in a wide variety of ways, including recycling a range of materials through the Additional Recyclables Collection Center, composting as much as we can through Grow Compost of Vermont and Vermont Compost Company, recycling cardboard with Casella and bulk coffee and herb bags with TerraCycle, and many other programs and initiatives. April saw us compost 6.9 tons and recycle 8.13 tons of materials.

While our own sustainability efforts and those of our partners are essential to protecting the environment, every customer who shops the Co-op can also have a positive impact. Some of the ways customers can do this are by dropping off recyclable materials in appropriate bins around the store, composting or recycling their waste in our café, using reusable containers whenever purchasing bulk items, using reusable bags or boxes every time they check out, and purchasing items in bulk. In April, our bulk department sold 1,500 pounds of product. That’s a lot of packaging saved.

From shoppers to partners and everyone in-between, thank you to anyone who does their part to protect our precious natural community and the planet.

Robert Barossi is the assistant community relations manager at Hunger Mountain Co-op.

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