Wakefern Associates Help Their Stores and Communities Go Green

On any given day at your local ShopRite, store associates are working hard behind the scenes to make the building, its operations and the local community more sustainable.

ShopRite stores are home to more than 100 Green Teams, groups of associates constantly on the lookout for ways to increase recycling, reduce energy use and contribute to environmental causes.

At the seven ShopRite stores in southern Connecticut owned by Harry Garafalo and his wife, Ann, the Green Teams monitor recycling practices to ensure what can be recycled is recycled. Green Team members check garbage cans for recyclable items and put them into the proper recycling container. It is not simply a matter of recycling paper, cans, and bottles, but rather a wide range of other items including flower shipping containers, empty pill bottles from the pharmacy and even wooden crates.

Green Team members also help shoppers understand what they can recycle in their community. “As the state of Connecticut has transitioned into offering curbside recycling, not everyone knows what is recyclable, and some people need help reading the labels. We have the ability to educate customers, at no cost to the city,” said Garafalo.

A partnership to plant 25,000 trees

The 2019 grand opening of the Garafalos’ newest store in Cromwell, included a ceremony to celebrate the launch of ShopRite’s partnership with the nonprofit organization One Tree Planted, and Kimberly-Clark that will plant 25,000 trees in ShopRite communities this year. The first tree, planted at the opening, came from a local greenhouse that has been in business for more than 40 years. The greenhouse owner specially selected a species that would thrive in the area.

Green Team success stories span ShopRite’s footprint

Green Teams at ShopRite stores are tackling a variety of projects that benefit their communities. Some work on finding ways to increase recycling by building partnerships with companies such as TerraCycle, which specializes in recycling items like toothpaste tubes, aerosol cans, balloons and sneakers. Green Teams also participate in environmental cleanups through partnerships with Clean Ocean Action, which focuses on improving the quality of marine waters off the coasts of New York and New Jersey, and other groups.

Green Team membership is voluntary, but Garafalo believes the teams encourage all associates to be more environmentally conscious. “After talking about our sustainability efforts and the Green Teams, I have actually had associates send me pictures of how they now recycle their plastic, paper and bottles,” he said. “One was skeptical about sustainability, but he now recycles, looks for bottles in the trash, and has stopped using Styrofoam, which makes me very happy.”