SPUD and Blush Lane are partners and pioneers of healthy-living in Calgary, focusing on local, organic and sustainable groceries. They boast B-Corp status, and are a member of the National Zero Waste council. Plastic-Free YYC talked to Becky from Blush Lane to learn about the company philosophy and how it drives their environmental practices.
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How was Blush Lane and SPUD.ca inspired to start as a business? In what ways has the company grown since the beginning?
Blush Lane started as a stand in the Calgary Farmers’ Market by Rob and Zenya Horricks. Since then Blush Lane has evolved and now operates four natural foods stores in Calgary and one in Edmonton. Blush Lane is especially passionate about supporting local growers and producers because we’re also part of the farming community ourselves. Since 2006, we’ve run an organic orchard in Keremeos, BC, where we grow tree-ripened fruit and veggies and work with the local organic community to make organic produce more widely accessible.
Blush Lane and SPUD.ca joined forces in 2017 to provide its customers with the awesome healthy-living brands they’ve come to love in a convenient online grocery store for all their local, sustainable and organic grocery needs!
Founded in 1997, SPUD.ca offers all the amenities of a traditional grocery store with the added convenience of online shopping and free delivery across Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria. Today, SPUD.ca is proud to be a certified B Corp, meaning they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. This commitment is etched into their charter, solidifying the values on which the company was founded. All of the products SPUD.ca carries are certified organic, natural, or locally and sustainably made. SPUD.ca was founded on and continues to operate on the belief that getting local, organic food delivered to your door is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to improve health, protect the environment, and support the local community. Plus it saves you time, money, and makes eating healthy a breeze.
Spud Delivery operates in 4 cities. What was the biggest challenge in implementing this concept in Calgary?
The weather. Unpredictable, changes multiple times/day, and the ranges are huge (-30C in winter will freeze produce, and +30C in the summer will turn produce to soup). Maintaining quality is always our biggest challenge to deliver on our promise to our customers, especially in a sustainable manner that doesn’t add more single-use packaging into the environment.
What sustainability trends do you anticipate your company adapting to in the next year, 5 years, and 10 years?
5 years – all private label packaging is packaged in reusable packaging that customers can return to be washed and reused.
10 years – full elimination of single use plastics. Doing this within 5 years would be great but we have so many vendors that use single-use plastic, it would be crazy to eliminate it all in five years…although we hope we can!
What’s your favourite thing to order from SPUD?
I love all the local products we source and knowing that I am supporting farmers, producers, artisans and bakers within my own community. The stone fruit we get in the summer from our Blush Lane Orchard in Keremeos, BC is also to die for.
Which products are hardest to source for you and why?
High quality produce is always the toughest. Shortest shelf-life, and in Canada (and Alberta specifically), we have such a short growing season that much of our produce is imported at different times during the year.
Have you ever had criticisms? What were they and how did you deal with them?
- Pink Bag Takeback Program – Some customers wonder why we use these types of bags in the first place. They are resealable, keep food fresh and are lightweight – which means reduced transportation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. At this time there are very little comparable alternatives for packaging that provide the same benefits.
- Food-X* and our partnership with Walmart, a grocery store that often isn’t perceived to have sustainability values. However, “sustainability works best when shared.” By working together, we can help them improve their operations and be more conscious about their environmental impact.
*Food-X is our brand new warehouse facility in Vancouver.
With so much greenwashing out there, how does SPUD | Blush Lane maintain trust with its customers?
One way we maintain trust with our customers is through our communication, specifically through our Annual Reports. These reports showcase our accomplishments for the year and provide accurate and measurable results.
What is your philosophy around waste and plastic? How does this translate into company policy?
One of our favourite quotes is from Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
If Calgarians are to reduce plastic, we need to support and establish a consumer experience that does not rely on the existence of plastic. What does this look like in reality? It means establishing a circular economy model: a system where packaging is reduced and reused; where recycling is only the last resort and recycling systems in place are actually compatible with the materials that we are using. We need a circular system where material can be recycled into the same product or packaging, or into something similar.
At Blush Lane, we support a circular economy through some of our reusable container programs which encourages customers to bring in their own containers to use in our bulk section.
And At SPUD, we optimize reverse logistics in order to provide customers’ orders in reusable bins and freezer jackets. By doing so, we are able to take back our packaging, wash it and reuse it.
SPUD is a certified B-Corp and a member of the National Zero Waste Council. Why is this important?
B Corporations are using the power of business to do good things for both people and the planet. The certification is such a powerful tool because it is run by an independent 3rd party known as the B Lab. This ensures that when you see the B Corp certification displayed by a company you can trust that they have gone through an extensive audit to prove the benefits that they are bringing to the world.
For SPUD, our benefits come in the form of our low-emission delivery model, our use of reusable packaging, our commitment to sourcing local and supporting local businesses, and our community outreach in the form of food donations and customer-supported bin drives.
For more information you can visit https://bcorporation.net/directory/spudca
If you had to encourage customers to begin a zero-waste lifestyle in one sentence, what would you tell them?
Don’t be afraid of imperfection, just by trying you are already being part of the solution.
As a leading player in the world of clean, healthy living, what are some things we can look forward to from SPUD | BLush Lane in terms of sustainability?
Expanding a circular economy model into our operations: https://about.spud.com/pac-cdn-leadership-award/
We are launching a second pilot of the Reusable Takeout Container program in Alberta with another local office customer in July. Assuming the program runs successfully, we will make the program available to all SPUD customers to enjoy. We are excited to soon provide another opportunity for our customers to participate in the zero waste movement.