Vermont's greenest ice cream
Friday, April 3, 2009 - 21:32
I’ve often found that my home state is overlooked. Whether overseas or in far away states, I have often been asked where Vermont is located and, occasionally, what country it is in. Incredulously, I answer next to New York, and if there is still no glimmer of recognition, I say Vermont is the home to Champ of Lake Champlain and the one and only Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
Now I'm sure everyone has at least heard of Ben & Jerry's. (Who could resist the temptations of New York Super Fudge Chunk or the ever-so-hippie Cherry Garcia in the supermarket freezer?) But did you know that this leading manufacturer of ice cream also happens to be a leader on the environmental front?
Ben & Jerry's, along with Dave Matthews Band and SaveOurEnvironment.org, has a campaign called "Lick Global Warming," an effort to raise awareness about global warming and introduce people to ways they can reduce their carbon pollution. This campaign not only teaches people what they can do, but also pressures Congress to take action. The company itself reduces its carbon footprint by investing in carbon offsets, such as planting trees, and investing in renewable energy projects locally and internationally.
Along the same lines, in an effort to fight global warming Ben & Jerry's has recently introduced a new freezer that doesn't use hydro-fluorocarbons which can cause depletions in the ozone, a main ingredient in the rising temperatures of the world. As an ice cream company from a cold state, it's ironic to see them trying to stop warm temperatures, yet it's one hundred times more gratifying than a scoop of Phish Food.
Yet through all of this focus on worldly saving, the company still manages to think locally with roots in their home state's University of Vermont and St. Alban's Cooperative Creamery in a program called the Dairy Steward Alliance. This program sets standards for local farms and issues checklists for them to fill out. Afterwards, these lists are sent to UVM's Center for Sustainable Agriculture, graded, and returned with feedback on how to improve their current farming techniques. This program puts an emphasis on local businesses and helps create better techniques for farming that are more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Vermont's Ben & Jerry's is a huge corporation. Their ice cream is sold worldwide, and yet they still put effort into protecting their environment. Why can't every large company do this? I wonder this every time I dip a spoon into a pint (which tends to be often due to the amazing ease of finding the ice cream on campus) and realize that Ben & Jerry's is one of a kind. With Vermont's greenest ice cream, I know that not only is my stomach going to be very happy, but the environment is, too.
A taste of Ben & Jerry’s green history:
• Founded in Burlington, Vt., in 1978, they started off green by renovating an old gas station and using refurbished and recycled materials.
• 1986: They then began to give their ice cream production waste to local farms to feed to their pigs. Who knew pigs enjoyed ice cream as much as we do?
• In 1988, Ben & Jerry’s created their 3 part mission statement, which began their increase in the recycling of paper, cardboard and plastics from the factory.
• 1989 - The first “Green Team”is born and B&J stand up against recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH).
• In 1992, Ben & Jerry's becomes the first public company to be a part of CERES, which requires them to tell their environmental performance each year.
• 1996: Organically grown cotton is used in all Ben & Jerry's T-shirts
• In 1998, Ben & Jerry’s began to use unbleached paperboard, a more environmentally friendly paper product
Photo: Alyssa Kropp
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