The most challenging environmental issue of our time:

Climate Change

Poised for Change

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 prioritizing and building a more sustainable food system.

Part of a Movement

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. We’d love to hear your thoughts on our sustainability efforts.

stronger together
Stronger together

As a member of the Climate Collaborative, we’ve pledged to lower emissions by increasing energy efficiency, reducing food waste, transitioning toward sustainable packaging and supporting climate-friendly agricultural practices and policy.

We’ve also joined 160 businesses and Community Food Co-op urging lawmakers to take bold climate action.

sustainability goals briarpatch food co-op
Our 2025

Sustainability Goals

Even amidst the obstacles of 2021, BriarPatch made considerable progress towards achieving these goals. Overall, our store electricity use was reduced by 9%, due to the LED light retrofit, the installation of the refrigerator doors and more internal discussion and awareness of energy usage among our employees. Our solar array generated 50% of our energy use! In the warehouse, our fleet of material handling equipment has reached net-zero carbon emissions and we are now recognized as a “Green Fleet Pioneer” by E-mission control, saving 33 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

And, we recycled 2,951 pounds. of single use plastic gloves, diverted 109,793 pounds of food waste from the land fill (88,900 pounds went to local farmers, 14,893 pounds went to hunger relief) and decreased our spending on plastic packaging by 7%. We remain vigilant about finding small and huge ways (like using a state-of-the-art natural climate-friendly refrigeration system in our new Auburn store)—and every way in between—to reduce our impact on the environment.

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Reach 100% renewable energy & be energy resilient during power outages.

green and low waste packaging

Reduce use of in-house single-use plastic packaging by 40%.

teal snowflake in green circle

Reduce use of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants in existing systems by 50%. Implement natural refrigeration in all new building projects & major retrofits.

Food waste reduction

Divert 100% of food waste and 80% of overall waste from the landfill.

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Carbon Neutral

Produce net zero greenhouse gas emissions.


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!


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.


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.


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 through Terracycle
  • Recycle clear plastic film through UNFI

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.


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.