Eco-Friendly Boise Businesses
By Chelsea Chambers
The Earth is what we all have in common.
– Wendell Berry
In the grand scheme of things, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate our place in the world. We must look at our role and understand our impact. As humans, we all leave our mark, we all use resources and create waste. That is an unavoidable truth. But perhaps what is more important, is how we aim to reduce our negative impacts, as individuals and as a society.
Boise businesses have a great responsibility to help preserve and protect our natural environment. With more success often comes more impact, more waste. But thankfully, there are some incredible people out there guiding their businesses toward a more eco-conscious future and taking steps to reduce their impact, all the while delivering fantastic service to a rapidly growing population.
Boise Fry Company
So much more than just fries (with burgers on the side), Boise Fry Company (BFC) has made a promise to the Treasure Valley to make environmentally conscious and sustainable choices when it comes to where they source their food, the products they purchase, and how they run their daily operations.
“BFC started with the mindset of being mindful of our planet and our resources. We’ve always recycled our oil, used biodegradable to-go ware and opted for washable plates and utensils,” shared Brad Walker, CEO of Boise Fry. “About four years ago, we partnered with Idaho power to replace all our lights with LED, which consume far less power. We source responsibly for all our products and look for ways to eliminate a carbon footprint with our vendors.”
But beyond just being environmentally conscious, BFC has made it their mission to also be community-conscious. “One of our favorite things to do is partner with the community on nonprofit nights. One Tuesday a month at each store (as often as possible) we donate 20% of sales to a local nonprofit. We’ve sponsored multiple co-ed sports teams, offered discounts to service industry and healthcare workers. During the height of the pandemic, we made it our mission to feed those in need. We’ve also always sourced as local as possible to support local farmers and business owners.”
“It’s been our mission to provide our team members with better than average pay, health and dental insurance, cell phone plans, gym memberships, free meals, retirement paid time off and now hazard pay. The heartbeat of a business is its cultural buy-in—top to bottom—and we’ve dedicated ourselves to the pursuit of that and we’ve been blessed and rewarded with the crew we have. There’s no doubt that our community and eco efforts wouldn’t be possible without all of their belief in what we are doing,” Brad concluded, praising his dedicated staff.
Form & Function Coffee
“Being eco-conscious is just part of our daily conversation,” said Form & Function co-owner, Scott Seward. “It’s just who we are and what we do.”
Scott, and his wife Kate, started Form & Function in 2016 at the Boise Farmer’s Market but settled into a brick and mortar in December 2017. Community support and sustainable product sourcing has been at the top of their list since the company’s inception.
“We place a really big emphasis on waste. We order our products weekly, to minimize spoilage and unnecessary waste. We’ve also gone through several different kinds of straws in order to get rid of plastic, we are currently using paper straws,” Scott continued.
“And all of our beans are sustainably sourced, often from farms that support larger global initiatives like building schools, etc. We would rather pay more for our coffee beans, know who the farmers are, and understand how they operate, rather than taking the cheap route. We also make all of our own flavored syrups, chocolate, and cashew milk. We are experimenting with making other milks as well, like almond.”
“While COVID has affected our HuskeeCup Swap program (HuskeeCups are made using the waste husk byproduct from coffee production), we hope to get it back off the ground again during normal times.”
Their namesake—Form & Function—places importance on the craft, style, and art of coffee-making (the form) and their place within the supply chain, ensuring that they are operating sustainably and to the best of their ability (the function).
The Boise Co-Op has been a leader in sustainability and community support since their inception in 1973. And now, with more than 30,000 members, they truly are a force for good in the Treasure Valley.
“We’ve made some big changes here in the last few years, especially when all those changes with recycling happened,” said Director of Marketing, Mo Valko. “We had someone from the City of Boise come in and evaluate all the water bottles on our shelves. We now only stock bottles that fit the recycling standards in Boise,” which really cuts back on overall community waste. “We also updated all of our deli-product packaging to non-petroleum based materials.”
But beyond switching up to more sustainable products, both Co-Op locations will now be running on 100% renewable energy! “We’ve been working closely with Idaho Power to make this happen, but for the remainder of 2020, our grocery stores will be ran solely on renewable hydro-electric power. And in 2021, we will make the transition to 100% Idaho solar energy!” Mo shared, excitedly.
Part of their ongoing mission is to support local and the Co-Op does it in a big way. With over 270 local supplies (local is defined as 150 miles or closer), they are the largest distributer of local goods in the Treasure Valley. In fact, 10% of their overall sales come from local goods, which equates to more than $4 million dollars in the last year. That’s $4 million dollars directly back into the pockets of local farmers and other businesses!
Back in March, they also started their Register Round-Up Program, where shoppers can round up their purchases to support local initiatives like the Food Bank, ACLU Idaho, and various bicycles nonprofits. Since then, they’ve raised more than $7,000, and matched nearly $4,000, bringing the total donations from that program alone to almost $11,000 in less than six months!
A huge shout out to all of the amazing Treasure Valley businesses that are doing their part to support the local community and the planet as a whole! Thank you!