Co-op Members share their climate change concerns

Approx 1000 words.

Thousands of Co-op Members have shared their thoughts on climate change and are helping us to shape our response to the issue. 

In the first of a series of conversations, more than 14,000 members joined in to tell us about their climate change concerns and give us ideas about the kind of solutions they’d like to see happening now. 

The overwhelming majority (98%) of members told us they were concerned about climate change, citing biodiversity loss, global warming, pollution, global inequality, food waste and plastic waste as some of their biggest worries.  

“The effect on people, especially those not causing climate change in less wealthy countries. 

Megan McGough, Isle of Tiree

“The lack of any response to the situation, both from government and from most people in their everyday lives.” 

Paul Edwards, Oxford

“The loss of already endangered species which will have a knock-on effect globally and the changes in climate which will lead to flooding and severe weather.” 

Liane Prescott, Northwich 

“Plastic packaging and the devastating impact it has on our precious oceans.” 

Ffion Hughes, Sale 

“Global food shortages, mass extinction, changes in weather patterns, water shortages, more wildfires, increased levels of famine leading to war and mass migration.” 

Naomi Bullivant, Welwyn Garden City 

“To stop relying on fossil fuels, and find green alternatives (sea, wind, solar power) that don’t damage the planet.” 

Valerie Havard, Fareham

As well as calling for global co-operation to tackle climate change, members told us they’d like Co-op to lead the way by working together with them to combat the issue. 

Members suggested a number of ideas to combat climate change, including the following. 

Food 

As well as more emphasis on sourcing local and seasonal produce in a bid to reduce food mileage, there were also calls for a halt to deforestation.  

“Better support for local produce. Each store could have links with very local producers to sell their products, so less transport mileage.” 

Pam Newman, Surrey 

“Food imports might be labelled ‘red’ for air miles or some kind of carbon rating.” 

Catherine Nichols, Warrington

“More earth friendly processes to get food from field to fork.” 

Sadie Billett, Watford 

“I’d like to see schemes to stop deforestation and others to plant trees.” 

James Fisher, Taunton 

What is Co-op doing already?  

We make sure the ingredients we use in our products are sourced as sustainably as possible, protecting people and the planet. 

We are making sure that all the soy we use in Co-op food products is covered by zero deforestation and sustainable soy credits. We are also working with our suppliers to make sure that 100% of the soy used to feed animals in our supply chain is zero deforestation and sustainably sourced by 2025. 

All our palm oil is certified by one of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Schemes, meaning we’re part of the fight against deforestation. 

More information on how we source sustainably can be found here: Sustainability – Co-op 

Plant-based eating 

To minimise their impact on the environment, members would like to see more people eating less meat and dairy products by switching to plant-based diets. 

“Encouragement for us all to adopt vegetarian and vegan diets, thereby reducing the damage caused by producing meat on an industrial scale.” 

Clare Chapman, Ivybridge

“I’d like to see more high quality, ethically produced vegan food.” 

Anna Currado, Billingshurst 

What is Co-op doing already?  

Our ever-expanding GRO range offers plant-based alternatives covering breakfast, lunch and dinner for those looking to cut down on meat and dairy, or for those who adopt a vegan diet.   

Energy 

Members noted the importance of educating and investing in alternative, low carbon and renewable energy sources and the need to reduce fossil fuel usage. 

“More opportunity to use greener fuels and financial support to help get them.” 

Gemma Bosson, Newcastle 

“End to extraction and burning of fossil fuels.” 

Leilah Botham, Oxford

What is Co-op doing already? 

We’ve invested millions of pounds in carbon saving solutions such as LED lighting, better fridges and cooling systems.  We use 100% renewable electricity, including sourcing from 5 UK wind farms we helped to develop. 

Plastics and recycling 

Reducing plastic waste and recycling is a key priority for our members. Many would like to see less plastic packaging and easier, more accessible recycling solutions too. They’d also welcome a switch from single use plastic carrier bags to paper bags instead. 

“A recycling revolution, so that nearer to 92% of all our resources could be recycled.” 

Christopher Hall, Wrexham

“Reducing the plastic on food and get rid of plastic bags and go back to paper bags.” 

Ben McGrath, Carnoustie

“Use 100% recyclable packaging. This may mean for example turning to glass or tins rather than plastic and cellophane.” 

Shelley Hollingsworth, Bristol 

What is Co-op doing already? 

We have committed to ensuring 100% of our own brand packaging will be fully recyclable this year. 

Transport 

To reduce their carbon footprint, members would like to see an increase in green energy technology including electric vehicles as well as accessible and affordable public transport. 

“More emphasis and grants for electric vehicles.” 

Mal Swift, Southport

“All new builds to have some solar energy. More hydroelectric power and electric vehicles especially public transportation.” 

Joelle Shonfeld, Horley 

What is Co-op doing already? 

We have made a commitment to replace our entire home delivery fleet with electric vehicles by 2025. 

Members also suggested hosting online events to discuss aspects of climate change and use noticeboards in our stores to promote Co-op’s commitments and progress. There was even a call to understand what practical actions members can take to transition to low carbon lifestyles to help fight the climate crisis on a personal level.  

Our next steps 

It’s great to be working together with members on this project and it’s fantastic to see so many are passionate about the effects of climate change. Although we are working on some of our members’ suggestions already, we know there is still a long way to go. The amazing feedback and ideas will help us to understand our members’ priorities in our climate response.  

Following the initial findings and steer from members in January, we would again like your help as we move forward into stage two of our project. 

Our latest discussion is on sustainable diets and exploring what members choose to eat and why. You can get involved in this conversation here. 

There are always opportunities for Co-op Members to get involved in shaping our Co-op. Join In on your online Membership account. 

Aruna Bahia 
Ethics and Sustainability Planning Officer