Da Do Run Run Run, Da Do Run Run

Yes, the gorilla runs every year

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend and here in Colorado that can only mean one thing: Bolder Boulder – more than 50,000 people running or walking in the nation’s second largest road race. A 32-year-old Colorado tradition, and the perfect way to pre-burn calories before kicking back with good BBQ, and cold beer.

At WhiteWave, we couldn’t be more excited for the race. More than 100 employees have been preparing for months, and will be running, walking, skipping, and strolling, thanks to a WhiteWave specific training program from Ric Rojas and his team of coaches. Another one of the cool perks offered at WhiteWave.

We are also the official sponsor of the reusable BolderBOULDER lunch bag handed out to each participant after the race. And this year, we added a twist: We’re randomly placing five Golden Tickets in the lunch bags, each redeemable for a year’s supply of WhiteWave Foods coupons. That’s about $1200 worth of Horizon milk, Silk Soymilk, International Delight coffee creamers and more!

See this at the race, snap a pic, and tweet it to @whitewavefoods #bolderboulder to win

And in the sea of employees wearing WhiteWave T-shirts along the race course, keep an eye out for one shirt with this blog’s logo (pictured right). If you spot it, snap a picture and tweet it to @whitewavefoods with the hash tag #bolderboulder – we’ll randomly select one person to win free WhiteWave products for a year.

If you’re in town, be sure to visit us at the Expo after the race where we’ll be mixing and mingling, offering free samples, and even grilling up some kosher dogs and veggie burgers.

For those of you that can’t make the event, we’ll share some pictures and stories next week right here on The Grazing Mind.

Happy long weekend.

Impact Day Q&A

Yesterday we shared some photos from our first annual all-employee volunteer event, Impact Day. To give you a little more perspective on what went down, here’s a quick Q&A with someone who was out and about – Adam Bratter from our Corporate Services team….

TGM: First off, what exactly did your group do on Impact Day?

AB: Our Team assisted the City of Lafayette Parks and Recreation department with a tree and shrub planting project to help invigorate a preserved wetlands habitat.  We worked together to prepare the land and to plant native varieties of trees and shrubs by digging holes, adding fresh top soil, building moats to retain the water around each tree/shrub, and adding a layer of mulch to help reserve the moisture.  Our team accomplished an amazing amount of work, planting approximately 120 trees and shrubs.

TGM: How often does the company do this kind of thing?

AB: WhiteWave Foods has sponsored VIA (VIA = Values In Action = our internal volunteer program at WhiteWave) events in the past where we’ve been encouraged to volunteer in the community during work hours, but these have been smaller departmental initiatives. Our company ardently supports community service and volunteerism, however, this was the first annual company-wide Impact Day, and with all the success stories and buzz around the headquarters building, I think people are inspired and pumped to make it an even bigger and better event in the years to come.

Adam's in the back row, fourth from the left...

TGM: Does WhiteWave donate money to these organizations as well, or offer other kinds of support?

Impact Day coincidentally occurred just as the annual Community Food Share Corporate Challenge is taking place. Last year, 100% of the organization individually contributed to the drive, and was backed up by 100% company dollar matching; this is in addition to an enormous amount of donated food and volunteer hours. So on top of time and labor, we as a company do financially contribute to many organizations. In my opinion it is befitting that as a food company, WhiteWave contributes dollars, product, and volunteer hours to so many Food Banks around the country.

TGM: What did the day mean to you?

AB: Impact Day was tremendously inspiring, educational, fun and fulfilling. I laud the fact that I have the opportunity to work for a company with rich values and culture, that actively supports its employees walking the walk.  Embodying our company’s Values in Action is something that permeates my daily life at work, at home, and in the community, including recycling and composting, buying green, gardening, and being active in our community, as an individual and with my family.  Impact Day was specifically enriching as it added the communal team engagement aspect to our Values and provided an opportunity to work together with various departments in the organization with whom I do not ordinarily work with, this completely removed any sense of hierarchy and seniority.  I also personally benefitted greatly from picking the brains of the Lafayette Parks and Recreation crew about the wetlands habitat and about the natives species of trees and shrubs chosen for the project, a few of which I’ll be adding to my family’s new backyard!

Impact Day

Last Friday, a couple hundred WhiteWavers partnered with more than 15 Denver/Boulder organizations for our first annual Impact Day – a volunteer event designed to get out of the office and help out in the community. We’re hearing so many great stories from the day, which we’ll soon share here on The Grazing Mind… but in the meantime, check out a few snapshots of what went down:

Kris LaFirenza helping clear a community garden plot at Boulder's Growing Gardens. The organization's mission is to enrich the lives of Boulder County residents through environmentally sustainable gardening programs that empower people to experience a direct and deep connection with plants, the land and each other. www.growinggardens.org

Tyler Holm pulling weeds at the Shoenberg Farm in Westminster, Colo. The Farm creates a community performance venue for music, theatre and film, and provides an ideal location for a year-round Farmers’ Market

Deanna Bratter and Sarah VanHouten plant trees and shrubs in a wetlands preserve near Boulder, Colo.

One of the larger WWFC groups at Feed Denver, helping build an urban farm plot in a parking lot downtown. Feed Denver’s mission is to foster local food security and sustainability through the development of urban farming by providing innovative tools, techniques and training for individuals, organizations and disadvantaged communities. www.feeddenver.com

A new brand new bag

Ok, I think I’m at risk for becoming the “plastic bag blogger.” I don’t want to typecast myself. I want freedom to be the funny sidekick who blogs about crazy incidents with compost or the underestimated  girl next door who writes about ingenious emission reducing technology. Please don’t pigeonhole me as the mom who writes about sandwich bags.

That said, I’m once again writing about plastic sandwich bags. A little while ago I told you about my struggle to reduce the waste produced by packing my sons’ lunches every day. Today, I read about Ziploc teaming up with the geniuses over at Terracycle to repurpose any and all Ziploc products (bags, reusable plastic containers and their little blue lids) into coolers and trash bags. Collect them, send them in, and let the magic begin.

They will even send any K-12 school collecting the bags two cents per piece. Teach your kids about reducing waste, get them involved in recruiting their friends, help their school reap the rewards.

Terracycle also makes candy wrappers into tote bags, and drink pouches into backpacks and laptop cases. Soon you will be able to outfit your whole house with the “waste” from your kids’ lunch boxes.

See… you don’t have to totally change your lifestyle to make a difference? Sometimes plastic bags are a necessity. But now you can alleviate your own guilt and reduce the landfill burden by tossing them in the mailbox instead of the trash can.

Habits

I read an article a few months back about a student who’d developed a video for a film and climate change course. His piece noted that despite his own sustainable efforts (he recycled, carried his own water bottle, turned off the lights, etc.), the emissions created by a trip to D.C. for a political science class, negated everything he’d been doing. “While I would like to think these small, conscious efforts make a difference, the truth is I know they don’t.” He’s right… but I disagree:

Habits, no matter how small, formed over the course of an entire lifetime, can add up and make a real difference.

Take last week when I reported on our Zero Waste program. It’s a cool story about how our company is working to eliminate waste in one fairly large location. But in the grand scheme of things, compared to all the outputs caused by the production of all our products, does it really make a difference? It’s a legitimate question, but before I answer it, it’s important we consider our Mt. Crawford plant in Virginia.

As WhiteWave’s largest facility, how Mt. Crawford goes about manufacturing our products is incredibly important. Everything they do is at a fairly large and intense scale. With this in mind, the plant took a comprehensive waste, water and energy assessment last year. And based on the results of that assessment, it’s clear that some new practices are making some pretty significant impacts.

To help cut down on water usage, Mt. Crawford invested in high-tech tools like stack economizers and condensation controls, the goal being to save more than 30 million gallons annually. The plant is also in the process of installing energy efficient lighting throughout the facility, which, when completed later this summer, will not only use less energy, but also potentially save us $10-15k per year. On top of it all, the plant recycled nearly five million pounds of waste last year that would otherwise have been sent to landfills.

So, was it worth it? In this case, it seems, undoubtedly, yes. With our Zero Waste program in Broomfield, maybe not so much. A better question is would one program have been possible without the other? The fact is, both are very much connected, and together, paint a bigger picture. And what that bigger picture reveals—what numbers of individual projects fail to capture—is that these programs collectively shape our company’s culture, and how we do our jobs.

One program’s influence over one group of people at WhiteWave, say corporate headquarters, makes investing in more efficient and sustainable practices at our plant not only more possible, but more plausible. What we learn from employing new practices in Mt. Crawford gets applied to our Jacksonville plant, to our logistics audits, to our packaging design, and so on.

So, as easy it is to feel discouraged about the irrelevance of a single act, or program, or one person’s change in behavior, it’s important to remember that these actions aren’t mutually exclusive. In the grand scheme of things, they all add up. They all matter.

Plan B

I was listening to an archived episode of This American Life last week. One of the segments featured a failed writer who had to take a telemarketing job as a way to make ends meet. This career option wasn’t part of the “plan”, which was the theme for the show, Plan B. The episode was great. The characters had, for a variety of reasons, no other choice, and it was that choice that ultimately changed their lives, often for the better. The same idea is discussed in this Good magazine blog entry on Lester Brown. Head of the Earth Policy Institute, Brown is both alarmist and optimist when it comes to the future of the planet. From climate change, to food, and our dependence on oil, he’s got a plan… and calls it “Plan B” (“Plan A” being our current, unsustainable path).