08 March 2009

Whole Foods Market

Today marks the end of our week long focus on for-profit businesses who support the nonprofit sector. We've seen businesses who have implemented practices that are environmentally and socially responsible, businesses who have been inspired to help champion nonprofit causes, and businesses who work for nonprofit organizations. 

Today's feature, Whole Foods Market, is a chain of markets  specializing in natural and organic products and geared towards socially and environmentally conscious consumers. The company is being featured not only for its business practices, but also for the foundation it established to help the global community.

Whole Foods Market's commitment to community is evident. One of their core values is: 'Caring about our communities and our environment.' This means:
  • Sustainable agriculture- by supporting organic farmers, growers, and the environment through their commitment to sustainable agriculture and by expanding the market for organic products
  • Wise environmental practices- by respecting their environment- recycling, reusing, and reducing waste whenever possible.
  • Community Citizenship- by recognizing their responsibility to be active participants in their local community. They give a minimum of 5% of their profits every year to a wide variety of community and nonprofit organizations.
  • Integrity in all business dealings- by viewing their trade partners as allies in serving their stakeholders, treating them with respect, fairness, and integrity at all times.
Sustainability is a key focus of Whole Foods Market. Their vision of a sustainable future "means our children and grandchildren will be living in a world that values human creativity, diversity, and individual choice. Businesses will harness human and material resources without devaluing the integrity of the individual or the planet's ecosystems. Companies, governments, and institutions will be held accountable for their actions. People will better understand that all actions have repercussions and that planning and foresight coupled with hard work and flexibility can overcome almost any problem encountered. It will be a world that values education and a free exchange of ideas by an informed citizenry; where people are encouraged to discover, nurture, and share their life's passions."

The company has begun implementing this vision "by changing the way we think about the relationships between our food, supply, the environment, and our bodies." The realization of their vision can be divided into following:
  • Holistic thinking in a conventional world
  • Holistic actions for a sustainable world
  • Healthy foods and healthy products begin at the source
  • Sustainability beyond organic food
  • Respect for all forms of life
  • Education and Public Participation
  • Regulation, enforcement, and accountability.

Beyond all this, Whole Foods Markets make a point of giving back to the communities they serve and the global community. At the local level, each store donates to area food banks and shelters. There are also several times a year when the stores host 5% Days,  5% of the day's net sales are donated to a local nonprofit or educational organization.

On the global level, the company has established the Whole Planet Foundation. The mission of the foundation is "to create economic partnerships with the poor in those developing-world communities that supply our stores with product. Through innovative assistance for entrepreneurship - including direct micro-credit loans and tangible support for other community partnership projects - [they] seek to unleash the energy and creativity of every human being [they] work with in order to create wealth and prosperity in emerging economies."

Whole Foods Market provides a large portion of the funding for the loans and underwrites the administrative costs so every dollar donated goes directly to those in need. The company also supports projects that directly relate to organics and environmentally-friendly production methods, animal welfare, sustainable seafood, and healthy families and nutrition.

Finally, should the need arise, Whole Foods Markets accepts donations at store cash registers for regional and national disasters.

Both the Whole Foods Market website and the Whole Planet Foundation website provide a wealth of information. For more information on Whole Foods Market's initiatives and how you can get involved please visit both sites.

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