The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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

Sustainability Series: Bashas’ Family of Stores

Sustainability Series: Bashas’ Family of Stores


January 24, 2010

Bashas’ Family of Stores is an Arizona-based, family-owned grocer that operates Food City, AJ’s Fine Foods, Sportsman’s Wine & Spirits, Eddie’s Country Store and both Bashas’ and Bashas’ Diné supermarkets. With 10,000 employees and more than 130 stores, it is one of the largest employers in the state and a “Best Place to Work in Arizona.” Since the company’s inception in 1932, Bashas’ has given back more than $100 million to the communities it serves. We talked to Kristy Nied, Bashas’ Director of Communications and Public Affairs, about their longstanding pledge to sustainably serve Arizona communities.

How does your business define sustainability?

We define sustainability as conserving our resources, reducing our impact on the environment and helping to preserve Arizona for generations to come.

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

We were recycling in Arizona in the 1970s – before it was the “in vogue” thing to do. We’re committed to conserving energy, water and fuel, in addition to recycling plastic bags, cardboard, shrink-wrap, plastic, paper, metal and other supplies. We recycle more than 25,000 tons of cardboard and plastic materials every year, conserve enough energy annually to power more than 7,500 homes, and use a fuel-efficient program to eliminate 1,775 tons of CO2 emissions annually from our fleet of trucks, a reduction equivalent to removing one-third of our trucks from the road.

Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?

We have the most impact when we collaborate with vendors, suppliers, customers, municipalities, public utilities and our employees on sustainability programs. Most recently, we partnered with the City of Phoenix on a voluntary plastic bag recycling campaign called “Bag Central Station – Where Plastic Bags Belong.” The campaign was designed to reduce the number of plastic bags collected in curbside recycling barrels (as the plastic bags disrupt the City’s sorting machinery) and educate residents about the right way to recycle plastic bags (which is to bring them into their neighborhood grocery store). 

This award-winning program not only resulted in a 20 percent decline in the number of plastic bags found in blue recycling barrels, but it has become a statewide initiative and national model for addressing the plastic bag issue. Rather than operate under plastic bag ordinances, taxes or bans, this voluntary campaign was successful because it changed behavior.

How do you measure your progress?

Every sustainability program and practice has a goal and measurement tied to it.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

The food industry has a corporate and social responsibility to operate with smart, cost-efficient and sustainable business practices.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

Customers expect to shop at retailers that respect the environment as much as they do, and find it disconcerting when they don’t. Any customer-centric business is obliged to hold the same values as its customers or risk being out-of-touch. Not only that, it’s just the right thing to do. 

The choices that businesses make impact the quality of life in the communities in which they operate. As a local, family-owned grocery, we believe it’s important to work together for a cleaner Arizona – for the families that we serve who live here today, and for the many more who will be here tomorrow.

Arizona is home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world – the Grand Canyon. As the last of the 48 contiguous states to join the union, we’ve been attuned to the environment from the beginning. Our state’s population consists of not only longtime Arizonans, but people from around the country and around the globe. As popular as Arizona is for tourists, retirees, young families and those looking for a fresh start, we realize that the world is watching. Our environmental practices, therefore, have ramifications that echo far beyond our borders.  

In upcoming issues, we will feature interviews with food companies that are making strides in their sustainability efforts. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing to get involved please contact Allison Bloom