No food system can be sustainable if it requires more resources than it yields. We take environmental responsibility very seriously, going beyond Fair Trade and Organic certification to work toward becoming a carbon positive business.
Certified organic farming assures preservation of the land and safety of the people who farm it. It eliminates the use of petroleum-based fertilizers, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering. Without these foreign inputs, soil quality, food flavor and farmer health are all greatly improved.
All of our coop partners maintain their fields within the American and European standards for organic certification. Transitioning to organic farming can take years, and often causes temporary losses in yield as the farmers and the land adjust. Programs like organic agriculture training at Rice Fund Surin, our Thai rice partner cooperative, give farmers vital support and encouragement as they make the change.
Farmers participate as guests at Rice Fund Surin’s
monthly organic agriculture training sessions
All of our co-op partners also have specialists on staff to assist and train member farmers in sustainable methods, and to help them achieve diversity in their fields and their diets. Endemic farming is an important part of this training; reintroducing ancient traditions helps to preserve local culture while improving yields, as these methods often come from centuries of hard-earned experience. Alter Eco currently supports:
46,600 acres of organic farmland
Tractors, factories, trucks, boats, offices: they all require energy to function. Much of this energy still comes from the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas, which release carbon dioxide (Co2) into the atmosphere and contribute to extreme weather patterns that imperil everyone on earth – especially our food producers.
As part of our commitment to environmental sustainability, we have calculated our carbon footprint, and continue to make bold steps to reduce and offset our impact.
We work with our French partner, Pur Projet, to calculate our emissions on an on-going basis. Using ADEME and GHG protocol methodology, we analyzee our entire operation, from field prep to planting, harvesting, processing, freight – even the energy used in our offices and your grocery store. You’ll find all the details in our 2010 Carbon Report.
As a San Francisco Green Business, we are continually refining our daily business operations to reduce our environmental impact. This includes office composting and recycling, energy-saving light bulbs, water conservation, reduced paper use, and subsidizing public transportation for employees.
Co2 mitigation is a tenet of organic agriculture, achieved through agroforestry practices and other crop diversification activities like inter-cropping. For example, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) reported that inter-cropping cocoa with other trees mitigates 11 tons of carbon per hectare per year. For Alter Eco that translates to:
207,856 tons of CO2 mitigated since 2007
Our ultimate environmental goal is to be a carbon positive business, offsetting more than we emit. To this end, we partner with Pur Projet on reforestation projects to identify opportunities within our own supply chain. Our partners in the Peruvian Amazon ACOPAGRO cooperative,,strategically plants native trees in the forest, naturally sequestering Co2, replenishing the forest canopy, increasing biodiversity, protecting against soil erosion, and preserving the fragile ecosystem that provides their livelihood. So far, they have planted more than 2,000,000 trees. Since 2008, Alter Eco has funded the planting of: