When you bring your own bag to the co-op, everyone wins! You save us a bag, we save a tree and you save money! For the past 10 years, we’ve given out five-cent bag credits for each reusable shopping bag, and for those who wish to donate that five cents, we created our Eco-Stamp program. This program collects these bag credits and donates them to a different organization each month—and they really add up! Back in April 2006 when we first started the Eco Stamp program, shoppers received actual little paper stamps that they could redeem for cash or put into a donation jar. Cashiers even had to count them by hand to find out how much to donate (usually about 16,000 stamps)!
Gone are the days of these tiny paper stamps, and with them the relevance of the name for our program. As a result, we have decided to make a few changes—positive changes! Beginning in April 2015, our Eco-Stamp program will become Positive Change to reflect the bag credits and donations, as well as to give a nod to our mission statement: to create positive change in the community by influencing the production, distribution, and enjoyment of food. Plus, we’re raising the stakes, literally, by increasing each bag credit to be worth 10 cents instead of five. With these changes, we’ll need your help in creating the most positive change in our communities; we’ll be asking each shopper to round up their purchases to the next dollar amount to donate to our Positive Change recipient of the month. It may just be a few cents or spare change, but the impact on our community is astounding.
In April our Positive Change recipient is the University of Minnesota Bee Lab. Run by MacArthur Fellow and Distinguished McKnight Professor Dr. Marla Spivak, the Bee Lab’s goal is to research and promote the health of bee pollinators. Their research includes breeding better bees, discovering bees’ natural defenses, improving conservation and management of pollinators, reducing pesticide use, and sharing research with beekeepers. Positive Change donations will benefit this research and promote the importance of pollinators in our food system.
In May our Positive Change recipient is Minnesota Food Association (MFA) Big River Farm. MFA provides a full range of educational programming about organic agriculture to beginning farmers and to all members of the community interested in learning more. Their land-based farmer training program specifically focuses on serving immigrant and minority farmers who are typically underrepresented in the organic farming community. Positive Change donations will go towards building greenhouse and high tunnel structures to promote season-extending practices and for use as educational facilities.