Providing high-quality food responsibly and sustainably is the driving force behind Green Chef. We examine every phase of your food’s journey—from sorting to packing to shipping—to ensure each step is taken with the environmental impact in mind. Sustainability, however, is further-reaching than choosing organic produce and meats from sustainable sources. It entails looking in depth at the long-term impact of everything from farming practices to waste management. With that in mind, we’ve eagerly welcomed Jeff Yorzyk as our Director of Sustainability.
Having been involved since before the birth of the sustainability movement, Jeff has a long and prestigious history in the field. Over the course of his career as a consultant, he’s guided over a hundred businesses towards becoming more sustainable and has served as President on the Board of Directors for the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. Below, Jeff shares his journey, describes his role, and talks about the joy of sharing values with Green Chef customers:
Your career path speaks of a lifetime interest in sustainability. What sparked that?
I grew up going on hiking, camping, and canoe trips with my folks. I’ve just always felt a very powerful connection there. It’s one of the things that brought me to Colorado: the ability to get out in the mountains, go backcountry hiking, and really get that experience of the environment and nature.
I had a very strong feeling in my early twenties that this was how I wanted to make my contribution: protecting and preserving the environment. I’ve always kept a pretty flexible career path. I never really set those time-based goals, where I want to be at this place in life by this date. I used a much more simple approach of a set of principles to live by; basically, try and have fun, help others have fun, and make a positive contribution that will outlast me in this world. Just by using that, it brought me to sustainability pretty directly I would have to say.
What is your role at Green Chef?
There are three pieces to that whole puzzle. There’s the “upstream side,” which is our supply chain. I ensure we’re stewarding the values that we share with our customers, not just on organics but on responsible procurement. We ensure the supply chain itself is engaging in sustainable practices. Things like managing soil quality and things that go almost beyond organics. I think the term out there is Organic 3.0: an awareness of where this is all going and ensuring we’re moving in that direction.
Then, if you look at the business, you have Green Chef as our operations where we’re sorting food, packing food, shipping food to customers. Traditionally, there’s a sustainability role there for someone to look at how we’re managing food waste, making sure everything that’s not of suitable quality gets composted, how we’re managing energy. So there’s that operational piece.
And then the third piece is the “downstream side,” which is what happens when the consumer has our box at their door. We really ensure we’re minimizing the environmental burden of that. Making sure everything in that box is as recyclable as it can be, that we’re not wasting materials, so we’re using things as efficiently as we can. We’re making sure we’re minimizing either the impact of that or maximizing the sustainability of that. So I take a very holistic view on the entire business from inputs to operations to outputs.
What is your favorite best practice for those who are trying to be more sustainably conscious?
Looking locally at where they can make change. It’s very place-based a lot of times. You have to look at what the options are, where you are. For example, did you know you can recycle plastic film at your grocery store? Like any plastic film? There’s a huge program with grocery stores and big box retailers out there that most people aren’t aware of for capturing any kind of stretch film! Dry cleaning film, case over-wraps, plastic bags, all of it!
Not all communities have the same profile, the same recycling, or the same food supply. So we create an opportunity for folks to break out of that, which is really nice. Certainly, within Green Chef we have many aspirations, but we look directly to the suppliers we’re working with and working with our customers to drive change in the short-term.
What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
Working to ensure that Green Chef implements the values we share with our customers. Our customers are voting with their dollars when they buy Green Chef. They’re voting that they want higher-quality food, and they have certain values around their food, products, and the environment in general. They see Green Chef as a brand they can trust that shares their values. What I really love about this job is that I get to help steward that within the organization. We very much share those values with our customers, and I’m the lucky person who gets to focus make sure that we’re honoring that commitment.
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