We live in one of the most pristine locations in the western US and are committed to leaving it this way for many generations to come. Twain Harte Market aims to improve the quality of the shopping experience and to become better stewards of the natural resources that go into our business. Our staff continually looks for healthier food choices, all natural cleaning products, and food products that address dietary restrictions. We have the largest selection of gluten free products as well as natural and organic selections in the county.
In 2007, we began our journey toward improved sustainability. Utilizing students in a green MBA program, we took a baseline audit of our waste and energy usage and set out on our path to improvement.
There was an enormous amount of energy upgrade opportunities in our store. We began replacing old worn out equipment with newer and more efficient refrigeration and display fixtures. For more expensive projects, we calculated cost/savings and payback period, waited for rebate opportunities from our local electricity company, and then obtained loans from our local bank.
In 2008, our initial project was replacing all overhead lighting to high efficiency lamps and ballast. After rebates, the project cost was $13,000 which was financed with our local bank. Estimated payback with cost savings was 3 years.
The first large investment was a high efficiency refrigeration controls and a fan motor upgrade for our refrigeration. These refrigeration controls have cut our kilowatt hour usage by 30+%. This translates into energy savings of $37,000 per year. A $49,000 loan was obtained for this project. The payback was achieved in 16.5 months. A negotiated rebate of $50,000 was also obtained from PG&E. Later in 2010, we installed LED lights in most of our older display cases. All of these energy savings initiatives have resulted in THM reducing its’ energy costs by a total of 45%.
Our latest project includes $100,000 of super high efficiency refrigeration cases that will cut our kilowatt usage by another 15-18%. This project is being funded by a PG&E loan. The projected savings from the decreased energy usage will payback the loan in just five years.
Our trash audit revealed that the biggest opportunities to reduce our overall waste output and monthly trash bill were to focus on wax cardboard, plastics, and organic waste. We have continued to look for ways to diminish the product going into the landfill and have cut the trash volume by 60% since our baseline was taken in 2007. This has been accomplished by recycling wax cardboard and plastic products with our corrugated cardboard collectors.
We also work with local chicken and pig ranchers to pick up and feed their animals with our produce and dairy product waste. We began with four trash bins, we now have two. We also recycle beverage containers consumed on premise by our staff and customers.
Partnering with our vendors has also contributed to reducing the overall fuel costs. We are very strong supporters of buy local, using150 mile radius as the definition of local. A handful of our major suppliers have aggregated their deliveries onto a single delivery truck thus eliminating 4-6 separate deliveries by these companies. This is a win, win for the environment, the supplier, and the retailer, not only in energy costs and reduced maintenance costs for vehicles but in people costs too. Our list of local companies includes: produce items, bakery products, honey, olive oils, meat products, cheese, eggs, jam, mustard, BBQ sauce, spices, apple juice, and coffee; with more products being added monthly.
We evaluate the suppliers of all products we sell in the store for their commitment to sustainability; specifically focusing on how they are minimizing the pollution of their manufacturing, distribution and transportation.
Green business is more than reducing waste and optimizing energy use. The people component is one more piece of the green grocer pie. We take pride in investing in the training and development of our staff so as to create an environment that they can grow in, raise their families, and continue to be contributing members of our community. In addition, THM is a large contributor to many local charity organizations, schools, and community events.