BrightSide’s Commitment to Sustainability

BrightSide’s Commitment to Sustainability

BrightSide is driven to create a more equitable and sustainable local food system for all. Part of what makes the food justice movement so powerful is that it sits at the intersection of social and environmental justice. Additionally, many BrightSiders have backgrounds in biology, which means that sustainability is always top of mind. 

Here are some of the ways that BrightSide’s commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices show up in the work we do:

Supporting Plant-based Diets 

One of the most impactful individual actions one can take to combat climate change is eating a plant-based diet. BrightSide’s programs focus on making it easier and more affordable to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, no matter your income level or where you live. When folks are facing food insecurity, fresh food is often one of the first items to get cut from their shopping cart. The majority of our Home Delivery customers report eating more fresh produce after starting our service. Plus, all the societal health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are also good for the planet. 

Eliminating food waste 

BrightSide is passionate about becoming a zero-food waste organization. Food waste is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, with up to a third of all food produced by farmers going to waste annually in the US. We employ several strategies to ensure that none of our produce winds up in a landfill under our watch.

We structure our operations to ensure our customers, both Home Delivery customers and corner stores, are getting the very freshest produce possible. However, sometimes we wind up with produce that is just not good enough to distribute. This is why we offer our Sustainable Seconds add-on to Home Delivery customers. They have the option of being on a list of folks who receive less-than-stellar quality produce for a steep discount when we have it. These items are perfectly edible, just not what you would choose from a grocery store shelf. We also use our customers preferences when curating their Home Delivery bag to help ensure that our customers receive items they want to eat. 

Another way BrightSide addresses food waste is through its Corner Store BuyBack program. The goal of our corner store program is to ensure that fresh healthy food is available to purchase in these stores. However, providing that supply means that produce sometimes becomes overripe on corner store shelves. For many of our stores, we offer a one-of-a-kind BuyBack program to purchase back any unsold, overripe produce. This is critical for many of our stores because it removes the financial risk of stocking perishable inventory that is a barrier to offering fresh produce in the first place. Right now, our corner store BuyBack produce gets composted or salvaged by BrightSide employees. We have a couple new programs in the works for eliminating food waste – be on the lookout for some exciting announcements soon!

Eco-friendly packaging 

As much as possible, we use compostable, recyclable, or simply no packaging for produce in our Home Delivery bundles. 

Empowering local growers and makers 

For our organic Home Deliveries, we source as much produce as possible from local farms, including Pleasant Valley Produce (a collective of Amish farmers in the St. Croix River Valley) and Alstad Farm in Schafer MN, as well as Co-op Partners warehouse. Our Home Delivery program also provides additional market access for local makers and food producers through our add-on options. BrightSide also manages the award-winning Linden Hills Farmers Market to help support a thriving local marketplace for local growers and producers in the Twin Cities area and provide a community gathering place. (PS- look for an exciting announcement about farmers markets soon!) 

It is important to acknowledge that there are often tradeoffs between social and environmental justice. 

Local organically grown food is generally more expensive than conventional. When faced with issues like the banana conundrum, we tend to fall on the side of public health and equitable access. For us, step one is supporting more equitable fresh food access and reducing food insecurity. Indeed, as Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better when we all do better.” For those that can afford the higher premium of local and organically grown food, we are happy to facilitate that. We need to care for each other and for our planet, and BrightSide believes that we can do both.

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