When it comes to environmental friendliness, Oregon seems to be doing something right.

One website,, listed Oregon as the second most eco-friendly state in the United States, behind Vermont, in 2015.

But high ranking in eco-friendliness aside, ingraining sustainability is a lifelong feat — because it means altering people's lifestyles. And while turning off the light more than usual or simply abiding by the city's recycling practices is a good start, it doesn't merit a “mission accomplished,” according to some. Pushing the idea of sustainability further than the basics is a focus of businesses like New Seasons Market, which aims to be more than just a grocery store.

Sustainability propelled by a grocery store might seem a little abstract; it's just a place to shop for food, grocery and other menial supplies, right? Interestingly enough, the exclusive-to-the-Pacific-Northwest chain, New Seasons, has found several ways to be much more than that, evolving into a full-on proponent of the environmentally friendly lifestyle.

“We work hard to make sure we're doing everything we can to make sustainable decisions every day. Each of our stores has a Green Team with representatives from multiple departments,” said Holly Turner, communications coordinator at Happy Valley New Seasons.

The Happy Valley location was built using sustainable practices like low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and post-consumer construction materials. These details are readily available to the public on the store's “What We're Made Of” board in the front end of the store.

Beyond the building itself, the store carries many different products that promote eco-friendliness, including brands that are committed to fair trade.

“Our house-brand coffee is a fair trade-certified coffee that we source through Equal Exchange,” Turner said.

The store maintains relationships with many eco-friendly and fair trade companies, from a “100 percent slave-free” chocolate company to an organic banana cooperative that is dedicated to its workers.

“New Seasons Market is all about choice,” Turner said. “We allow our customers to make purchasing decisions that are the most sustainable for their families.”

Earth Day 2016: Food waste because of ‘ugliness’ and more

Although “every day is Earth Day” at New Seasons, according to Turner, the Earth Day holiday on April 22 provides yet another opportunity to shine a light on what they already do on a daily basis. This year, for Earth Day, the store plans to continue to accentuate the topic of sustainability by hosting plenty of activities and lectures that will feature their own in-store experts.

The Earth Day focus this year from the New Seasons’ Promotions Counter tackles a current issue: food waste due to displeasing aesthetics — aka ugly food, especially fruit.

According to National Geographic, about a third of the planet's food goes to waste, often because of its looks. That's enough to feed 2 billion people and could be the key to solving world hunger.

The store will attempt to enforce “no waste” with any produce, even if it may be unsellable because it isn't as aesthetically appealing to consumers, however perfectly fresh and OK to consume.

Furthermore, the store will approach “how to cook for one or two, making the most of leftovers, bone broth and veggie cull broth, freezing fruit and veggies before or at their peak,” and more.

Activities on Earth Day, April 22, are happening at the the Happy Valley store's Solution Center from noon to 3 p.m..

Discussions will include sustainability and fair trade, spring planting, as well as B Corp tastings.

“B Corp tastings are so much fun!” Turner said. “We highlight the products in our stores that are produced by companies that, like us, are certified B Corps.”

B Corps are companies that use business as a force for good, Turner said, adding that New Seasons Market was the first grocery store to become B Corp certified.

Furthermore, there will be a Q&A session with James Fitzgerald, the store's resident beekeeper, who will be in full beekeeping gear for the kids, Turner said.

On-site beekeeper

Six years ago, now-resident-beekeeper Fitzgerald started reading about the colony collapse disorder that is affecting honeybees. Another popular topic right now, this became a huge concern for Fitzgerald.

“It concerned me to lose our pollinators, so I started looking into what I could do. I took a beekeeping class and was hooked. I wanted to keep bees,” he said. He bought hives and spent the following winter assembling and painting them, reading lots of books, and watching YouTube videos.

“I joined a local beekeeping club, Portland Urban Beekeepers and attended their monthly meetings, always learning more,” Fitzgerald said. He then signed up for the Oregon State University Master Beekeeping program.

“During this time, New Seasons announced that they would be placing beehives on two store rooftops. I immediately asked to be part of this venture,” Fitzgerald said.

For the first year, he worked with another beekeeper to manage the rooftop hives, and by the second year he took over the program. He finished the first year of the Master Beekeeper program and has an apprentice certification, and is continuing through the Journeyman course.

Fitzgerald keeps busy with bees at Happy Valley and Fishers Landing, but the program has expanded to include beehives at New Seasons in Sellwood and Seven Corners.

“Many people ask what they can do for the health of our bees and other pollinators. The most important thing anyone can do is to plant bee-friendly flowers and not use harmful pesticides,” he said.

“Honeybees pollinate about 80 percent of our food. Without bees, we have no food,” Fitzgerald said. He encourages those interested in beekeeping to do so, calling it a “fun part-time summer hobby.”

At the Earth Day celebration at the Happy Valley store, Fitzgerald will have plenty of handouts and information on beekeeping and bee-friendly plants.

“It's lovely to have one day where the whole community comes together to celebrate our planet and collectively work toward being good stewards,” Turner said of the store's Earth Day events.

Happy Valley New Seasons Earth Day

• Where: 15861 S.E. Happy Valley Town Center Drive, at the Solutions Center

• When: noon-3 p.m. April 22

• More: Discussions on sustainability, fair trade, spring planting, B Corp tastings and a Q&A with resident beekeeper James Fitzgerald

Ugly food

A new movement has transpired globally against the waste of food — specifically food that is thrown away simply because it is ugly or weird looking, be it a growth or some other cosmetic issue that causes it to be discarded or passed over, when it is actually perfectly fine to eat.

According to National Geographic, a third of the planet's food goes to waste because of this problem, and could be the key to solving world hunger.

The campaign against throwing away ugly food is a hot issue that New Seasons is jumping onboard with this Earth Day, as the topic has dominated headlines and marketing campaigns worldwide in the past year.