Since Oliver’s opened in 1988, we have understood that a big part of supporting your local community includes being a good steward of the Earth. To this end, Oliver’s understands the need to reduce our impact on the environment, and with efforts that range from the grand to the minute, we strive to incorporate sustainability into every facet of our day-to-day operations. A great many of these efforts wouldn’t have been possible without the skills, knowledge, and creativity of Sonoma County’s own Annie Sherman! As our Corporate Sustainability Coordinator, Annie, equipped with an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise and years of experience in the grocery and sustainability field, spends her days tackling problems in all areas of sustainability at Oliver’s, firmly guiding us towards a future rooted in green practices.
When we say our vision is to be the most sustainable grocer in Sonoma County, we mean it, and there are dozens of ways we demonstrate our conviction. As a Sonoma County pioneer in recycling and composting, Oliver’s implemented one of the first commercial recycling and composting programs as early as 2007 and has been diverting food waste to local farm animals ever since. Oliver’s was also among the first customers in Sonoma Clean Power’s CleanStart program! This means the energy at Oliver’s Markets is partially from local, renewable power sources, but we’re still constantly seeking out ways to improve the efficiency of our energy use companywide. Along with clean and efficient power, we’re constantly checking our water usage and plumbing to prevent water waste. Plus, in 2011, we switched our Stony Point location’s irrigation system to recycled water, a move which has since saved the City of Santa Rosa around 90,000 gallons of potable water annually.
We also became a Social Purpose Corporation (SPC) in 2017, and with a commitment to the environment as one of our tenants, we kicked our sustainability efforts into overdrive! Since 2019, wine departments swapped single-use plastic pallet wrap for reusable pallet wraps and bands, resulting in a reduction of 1.5 tons of plastic waste annually; transitioned from virgin plastic, single-use utensils to Preserve’s 100% recycled and reusable utensils; diverted waste with a host of new programs in a variety of different departments; and did a complete retrofit of our Montecito store, our Stony Point store, and the Stony Point parking lot, with new energy-efficient LED lamps. To learn more, click here to see the full 2019 Oliver’s SPC Report.
Even with all this amazing progress, Annie’s work to reduce waste and improve efficiency isn’t done yet, and we’re always excited to see what creative solutions she’ll come up with next! This week, learn a little more about Annie and her role at Oliver’s, plus stop into any of our stores for great deals on our favorite Earth-friendly products!
Who are you?
“I grew up in Sonoma, California then went to CSU, Chico. After studying environmental studies, multicultural and gender studies, and volunteering for student government as their Environmental Affairs Commissioner there, I was inspired to learn more about the intersection of business and sustainability and went on to complete a “Green MBA” in 2014 through Dominican University. I spent four years doing recycling and green business outreach with Sonoma County and worked in the grocery industry in the front end and deli areas for 6 years before coming Oliver’s. My role at Oliver’s is so exciting and rewarding to me because it is a way to put everything I have learned into action and really make a difference in an evident way. Just one business can make such a positive impact on the community and the environment, it is amazing to see this happen in real time! I am continuing to work on zero waste efforts, clean sources of energy and energy reduction, water conservation, pollution prevention, positive social impacts, and much more!”
Annie, what is your favorite green product?
“There are so many it’s hard to choose! I have seen Chico Bag and Klean Kanteen grow from small local businesses to large businesses while still maintaining their environmental and local focus and although they aren’t based out of Sonoma County, they support efforts that affect our local community here. I frequently bring my own Oliver’s Klean Kanteen and Oliver’s branded Chico Bags with me to Oliver’s to replace single-use cups and bags and love the quality these products provide!”
What about your favorite green practice?
“In both my personal and professional life, my favorite green practice is to have important conversations about how we can all be better. Continual improvement, not perfection, is my motto. I heard someone say once ‘we need everyone doing 10% better, not a few of us 100% perfect’ and I love that. For example, if all of us just reduced our waste a little bit it would make a bigger difference than a few of us eliminating our waste completely. Aside from that, personally, I have a lot of fun putting items in my worm bin to see if they biodegrade or not. At Oliver’s, my favorite green practice is the reusable pallet wraps and bands because it is not a standard industry practice and really amazing to see how one little change has made such a huge difference and reduced our plastic usage tremendously.”
What are your biggest accomplishments at Oliver’s?
“The sustainability coordinators before me got the ball rolling on lots of projects and without their hard work and vision we would not be where we are today. One major project I have helped carry through is the installation of a 60.8 kW solar system at Oliver’s business offices. This offsets 86,921 kWh of electricity annually (enough electricity to power more than 8 residential homes each year!). Since the implementation of ‘reusable pallet wraps’ in April 2018, we have also reduced our single-use plastic pallet wrap waste by approximately 12%. This is enough plastic film saved to stretch from Windsor Oliver’s all the way to Cotati Oliver’s (~15 miles!). With so many pressing environmental issues, it is hard to choose which problem to focus on next, but with the drought upon us and wildfires increasing, water is a major focus this year and the years to come. But that being said, I always feel that each and every conversation with management, employees, partners and customers on a daily basis (even if remotely due to COVID) is really where the cultural change happens, and what makes major quantifiable accomplishments like the ones above possible. We always welcome feedback to identify areas we can improve and to help orient us towards what projects are important to everyone.”