With roughly 1.8 billion shopping bags used and discarded in America every week, Palmer’s Market in Darien is making its corner of the country a bit more eco-friendly.
For the past ten years, Palmer’s Market has found creative ways to reduce its environmental footprint through a number of initiatives spearheaded by the market’s co-owners Greg Palmer and Cindy Palmer Dean. The market is encouraging customers to do the same.
“This process has proved to not only benefit the environment but has also helped our business economically,” said Greg Palmer. “From something as simple as providing reusable cups and mugs to employees to replacing all of our florescent lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs, Palmer’s is committed to reducing our environmental footprint.”
In addition to offering customer drop-off for plastic bag recycling, checkout staff at Palmer’s recently attended training to pack the store’s paper and plastic bags more efficiently and effectively for customers, leading to use of fewer disposable bags.
On Earth Day, this Sunday, April 22, the store is giving away one Palmer’s reusable bag to every customer. For those who already own reusable bags or plan to stock up, remembering to bring the bags to the store is half the battle, according to Cindy Palmer Dean.
“When I unpack my groceries I either put the bags back into my car or I put them where I have to trip over them so I don’t forget them,” Cindy said. “The other important thing with reusable bags, is they should be washed every few uses. Our bags are washable, but if the ones you have are not, wipe them out with a disinfecting cloth.”
Customers are stepping up to the challenge.
“Last week alone we sold 200 of reusable bags and we saw dramatic decrease in bags we were using in the store,” she said. “It’s working!”
Any supermarket —with its refrigeration sections, kitchens and brightly-lit aisles — isn’t the picture of energy-efficiency. But Palmer’s has worked the change that. With the help of Eversource, fluorescent bulbs in the store were changed to LED. And, while the market does not have an enclosed dairy section, it is using “night shades” over those areas when the store closes, in order to reduce energy loss.
Customers who enjoy the complimentary coffee at Palmer’s may have noticed that styrofoam has been replaced with more eco-friendly paper cups. Behind the scenes, Palmer’s staff now use mugs instead of foam cups and plastic water bottles were replaced by water coolers. Palmer’s also recycles all of its cardboard and paper — totaling more than 300 tons per year.
“We couldn’t believe how many extra large foam cups were were going through each day before we made that change,” Cindy said. “We’re also working with a couple of manufacturers on getting rid of the foam trays in our meat department by using alternatives like bamboo and plant-based material.”
The store-wide efforts continue to grow and staff love seeing the customer engagement.
“I know we all have real concerns about protecting our planet for future generations,” Cindy said. “If everyone just makes one, small change it can make a huge difference!”
Palmer’s Market is located at 264 Heights Road, Darien, right across from the Noroton Heights Railroad Station.