The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Eco Hatchery

Eco Hatchery


September 27, 2009

The Milwaukee-based Eco Hatchery offers energy-saving toolkits and web-based tools for tracking the environmental, energy and financial savings of individual households and entire communities. Their Eco Starter Kit helps a typical U.S. household lower utility bills by $260 per year, save 7,000 gallons of water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 tons. Co-founder Andrea Nylund talked to us about the importance of working together toward a common goal.

How does your carbon calculator work and what are the benefits?

Eco Hatchery's carbon calculator measures the environmental impact of daily routines, from household energy use to travel and diet. (

As users input their data, the calculator displays a rolling carbon footprint total, showing the connection between specific lifestyle choices and greenhouse gas emissions. The calculator also provides information to help users make educated decisions about the alternatives available for reducing their footprint. Some may find that a change in diet suits their lifestyle better than changing the way they commute.

A unique advantage of Eco Hatchery's carbon calculator is the community feature. As community members take action to cut carbon emissions and save energy, they can track their progress online, see how it impacts the community's collective footprint, and compare their footprint to the community average.

How have you been able to merge commerce with sustainable business practices?

To the greatest extent possible, we employ sustainable business practices. We compare the alternatives available and cross check information to ensure that the services and products we deliver adhere to our principles. All of our printed materials are on recycled paper. Rather than using petroleum derived packing materials, we utilize excelsior from a sustainable aspen grove that can be reused, used as mulch, or simply composted.

What are the challenges of applying residential energy efficiency and conservation initiatives to the commercial sector?

People have different reasons for wanting to save energy. Some prioritize the environment while others are driven by the money savings. Whatever the motivation, the actions usually are the same.

We developed the carbon calculator and the energy-saving toolkits to help individuals cut through all the conflicting information that’s out there and go straight to the solutions. In general people want to do what’s right but they also favor convenience, so we have married the two.

For companies, the challenge often is to educate and inspire employees, so that they are engaged in sustainability efforts at the workplace. For many companies, the carbon footprint of their employees significantly exceeds the carbon footprint of the company’s operations. Companies offer our eco kit to employees and customers to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. An added advantage is that environmental practices learned at home translate to habits and commitments that employees bring back to the workplace.

Why is the concept of “collective action” so important to the green movement?

Many people find it difficult to make changes when they feel that their potential impact is small and insignificant. When they join forces with others and are able to see real, measurable results – it's very rewarding. A desire to improve the environment typically is not motivation enough to find the time and focus to take action. Seeing how they compare to a relevant group of peers can be a key motivator, and working with others becomes a very positive social benefit.

What can retailers learn from your success?

Selling environmental products and services is not simply about promoting environmental benefits, nor cost benefit to the consumer. Anything that a retailer can do to build community consciousness and social networks will help to drive buy-in, participation and results.


In upcoming issues, we will feature interviews with companies that are taking innovative steps toward the creation of sustainable products and services. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing please contact Allison Bloom at