How You Put The Green In Grocery Shopping

Harris Farm are committed to being part of the climate solution – and so are you by shopping there
By Leanne Archer

From flipping the switch to renewable energy sources to championing regenerative farming and zero food waste, this independent Aussie grocer is stepping up to the plate to help save the planet.

In showing its commitment to protecting the environment (and becoming a climate rockstar), Harris Farm Markets is slashing its own greenhouse gas emissions. The grocery chain has shared plans to reducing its carbon footprint in line with the internationally recognised Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. 

What you talkin’ about?

“We want to have as little impact on the environment as possible and carbon is what we’ve identified as the biggest issue,” says Charbel Daher, General Manager of Supply Chain at Harris Farm Markets. So, to reduce this carbon footprint, they’ve unveiled their three-step, or scope, plan. 

This involves monitoring Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions with the end game of becoming carbon neutral. Voilà!

Scope 1

Steps to a smaller footprint 

When you reach into the HFM fridge for your favourite camembert, you’re most likely thinking about what wine to wash it down with, rather than what’s keeping it at optimum temp. But commercial refrigeration is a big emitter of nasty greenhouse gasses, and Harris Farm has acted on the issue by replacing their old gas-run fridges with more climate-friendly models. “We use something new now with a water-loop system, which is more advanced in regards to efficiency and a lot more environmentally friendly,” explains Charbel. “We started introducing them five years ago, and they’re being put in all new stores and ones undergoing renovation. Eventually, all our stores will have these fridges, reducing emissions considerably.” 

Charbel says other Scope 1 projects being rolled out include timers being placed on air-con units to switch them off between midnight and 4am each day, upgraded curtains on fridges to conserve temperature, and energy-efficient LED lights installed across all stores. 

Scope 2

The big power move 

Let’s get real. To fight climate change, we need to ditch fossil fuel use, like yesterday. Harris Farm knows this, and in January this year it led the way as an Aussie food retail chain 100% committed to renewable energy sources across all 25 stores. They have invested in wind energy (from Sapphire Wind Farm near Glen Innes) and solar power (by Bomen Solar Farm in Wagga Wagga), locking in the price for the next 10 years. This equates to a huge reduction in CO2 emissions of around 170,000 tonnes a year. Winning!

It’s very cool because we’re also supporting the regional community by investing $1.5 million a year in local wind and solar farms.

“In real terms, we’ve saved 2000 homes worth of electricity over the 10 years,” says Charbel. “This is equivalent to 25 million trees per year in carbon offset, which is the size of Olympic Park, and savings of around 25 million litres of water each year.” 

Courtney McGregor, Harris Farm’s Sustainability Project Lead, adds, “It’s very cool because we’re also supporting the regional community by investing $1.5 million a year in local wind and solar farms.” 

Scope 3

Heart and soil

Climate change and soil depletion are the real grim reapers of food security – but, here’s the good news (woot!), they don’t have to be. You see it’s all well and good reducing plastic packaging and shopping with reusable bags, but unless we change our farming practices there’s going to be a lot less food to put in them. So what’s the point?

Something for you to chew on

Food production makes up a massive percentage of the climate-change issue and Harris Farm Markets is tackling it head on. Co-CEO Angus Harris points out HFM’s packaging, electricity and machinery combined make up just 12 per cent of their overall carbon footprint – with the remaining 88 per cent coming from the food they sell. 

“In February 2021 we launched the It’s All In The Soil campaign to inform customers about carbon in the atmosphere and how it relates to soil,” says Angus, who explains the biggest impact is the way food is grown and raised. “We sell food, and food comes from soil, and if you improve the health of the soil, it actually draws carbon down from the atmosphere.  

“When it comes to climate change, everyone loves to throw rocks at agriculture,” he adds, “but it can actually be part of the solution – or the ‘soil-ution’ as we say for a bit of fun.”

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

Out of all the green initiatives launched by Harris Farm, this one has to be their favourite child: regenerative farming. HFM partners with and promotes farmers in their supply chain who use this holistic agricultural method – where chemical nasties such as pesticides, herbicides and petroleum-based fertilisers are replaced with practices that work with Mother Nature, rather than against – which replenishes instead of depletes our glorious soil. Harris Farm stocks around 30 producers at the forefront of this industry. Here are just two of them. 

When you step into any HFM store you know they have committed to 100% renewable energy sources. This investment is equivalent to 25 million trees per year in carbon offset over the next 10 years!

Have your beef and love it, too

One-of-a-kind beef supplier Provenir is flying the flag for ‘meat with morals’. This Aussie business has introduced kinder, more ethical practices for raising cattle – including sparing them from a dreaded trip to the abattoir. Instead, a mobile abattoir is trucked directly to the cattle on their home turf. And happy cows equals happy eating; this is due to reduced stress hormones that compromise meat quality.  

Besides working with farmers who raise chilled-out, grass-fed cows, Provenir – who has supplied beef to Harris Farm since 2019 – are champs when it comes to the environment. By adopting regenerative land management, they counter climate change with a process called carbon sequestration. Say what? This means carbon is drawn from the atmosphere into the soil, which in turn makes it softer and more productive. Now, who wants steak?

The scopes at a glance...

Greenhouse gas emissions have been grouped into three categories or Scopes by the most widely used global accounting tool, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. Here’s a refresh.

Scope 1 covers emissions produced directly from running a business, like fuel burnt from heating and lighting.

Scope 2 is all about what sort of power is purchased and used.

Scope 3 emissions are generated from a business’s supply chain, including the growing of food and what happens to waste.

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