START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Wait, Whose Idea Was It to Keep Produce in Open Coolers, Anyway?


Green Lifestyle  (tags: environment, eco-friendly, energy, business, conservation, green, greenliving, health, humans, Sustainabililty, shopping, society, sustainable, protection )

JL
- 684 days ago - takepart.com
Grocery stores are burning through electricity to please customers with chilled, open-air meat and produce displays.



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

Comments

JL A. (272)
Monday January 7, 2013, 10:14 am

Wait, Whose Idea Was It to Keep Produce in Open Coolers, Anyway?
Grocery stores are burning through electricity to please customers with chilled, open-air meat and produce displays.
By Jason Best
January 3, 2013
Comment
Wait, Whose Idea Was It to Keep Produce in Open Coolers, Anyway?

Pictured: Significant, unnecessary energy waste (Photo: Andersen Ross/Getty Images)

We live in world of hybrid cars, compact fluorescent light bulbs and burgeoning wind farms. So why is it that we don’t think twice about all that electrically cooled air continously spewing from the refrigerators at the grocery store? In other words, if the future is now, why is it we’re still shopping for boneless chicken breasts like it’s 1953?

It’s a question we couldn’t help asking after coming across this article from the Guardian, which reports that one large grocery chain in the U.K. has embarked on something of a revolution (at least in terms of the grocery biz). Are you ready for it? The Co-operative is putting doors on its refrigerators. (Gasp!)
See More Actions
Take Action! Take Simple Steps to Reduce Your Energy Use

This may not sound like a big deal, until you realize that if every grocery store in the U.K. installed doors on their refrigerators, it would save roughly double the amount of electricity produced by Europe’s second largest coal-fired power plant.

Even as we’ve been dutifully carting our own bags to the grocery store, it never quite dawned on us what energy hogs all those open refrigerators are—but the produce display status quo is essentially like leaving the door on your kitchen fridge open all day, every day. Yeah, you’d expect a pretty big electric bill at the end of the month.

Huge, in fact. Grocery stores in the U.K. use a full 5 percent of the country’s electricity, much of that for refrigeration. By putting doors on the refrigerators in all new stores and retrofitting many others, the Co-operative is saving $80 million a year on its power bills.

So why aren’t all grocery stores seeking more...closure? You guessed it: the fickle customer.

Can we just pause a moment to ask: Who are these people? Are they of the same ilk as the mythical “undecided voter”? Because it seems whenever some sort of simple, environmentally responsible change like this is floated, businesses always cite masses of skittish and seemingly dimwitted “customers” as their top concern. We really want to meet one of these people who would all of a sudden stop shopping for meat or produce if they had to strain themselves to open a refrigerator door.

To wit, a spokesman for another top supermarket chain in the U.K. told the Guardian: “Fridge doors are unpopular with most customers and therefore we have no plans at present to introduce them.”

“Most customers”? Seriously?
Related Gallery
Capturing the Power of WavesCapturing the Power of WavesCapturing the Power of WavesCapturing the Power of Waves
Tapping Into Tidal Power: 5 Ways the Ocean Could Energize Our FutureSee Full Gallery

And there’s this from a spokeswoman for another chain: “Customers tell us that [fridge doors] make it difficult for them to shop, and we’re finding in busier stores that the doors stay open most of the time with little or no advantage. We believe there are other things we can do to make an impact.”

As for the Co-operative, the chain’s director of property, Dave Roberts, tells the Guardian that while the company was initially concerned about the impact the doors would have on sales, “[W]e found that because we put LED lights around the doors, customers said it brought the product to life. In no places where we have put doors on the fridges have sales gone down.”
SIGN UP FOR FOOD, INC. EMAIL UPDATES
Terms & Conditions

Related stories on TakePart:

• Americans Don’t Know Squat About Energy Issues

• Aisle Not: Why One Woman Quit Grocery Stores for a Year

• Take Action: Play Sans Electricity

Jason Best has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council. He writes about food, sustainability and the environment.
 

Nancy M. (202)
Monday January 7, 2013, 10:59 am
Always wondered about that. Especially when my sprouts sprout fungus. Energy savings would be massive.
 

JL A. (272)
Monday January 7, 2013, 11:03 am
You cannot currently send a star to Nancy because you have done so within the last week.
 

Kenneth Davies (0)
Tuesday January 8, 2013, 1:05 pm
noed - once again the cooperative is an innovator
 

Dianna M. (16)
Tuesday January 8, 2013, 2:19 pm
Yeah, I remember when grocery stores started having "open refrigerators" here in Nebraska. I questioned even then how it was supposed to save energy--especially in summer, when the air conditioners in these places were cranked up so high that I was practically blue when I left.
 

JL A. (272)
Tuesday January 8, 2013, 3:02 pm
I was pleased to find butter & other dairy behind doors in a MN grocery store last month.You cannot currently send a star to Dianna because you have done so within the last week.
 

Kathleen R. (138)
Tuesday January 8, 2013, 3:36 pm
noted & read
 

Suzanne L. (150)
Wednesday January 9, 2013, 9:56 am
TY for the article. Like others, I have wondered about this and other aspects of grocery stores re energy consumption and waste for a long time.
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 9, 2013, 10:25 am
You cannot currently send a star to Suzanne because you have done so within the last week.
 

Lin Penrose (92)
Wednesday January 9, 2013, 11:31 am
Noted, thanks J.L.A. As other have commented, I too, have wondered about the 'Open-air Farmer's Market" style. Not only is energy wasted, but so many air-borne particles carry diseases from customer traffic and other sources. Then you have the produce sections who mist, using more energy and water that may also contain mysterious & dangerous contaminants.
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 9, 2013, 2:37 pm
Excellent points Lin! And those misters seem to lead to faster molding on many fruits and vegetables, too (contributing to food waste)...
You cannot currently send a star to Lin because you have done so within the last week.
 

Shirley B. (5)
Wednesday January 9, 2013, 4:14 pm
I agree, those misters watering even packaged greens (which have airholes so the produce can breathe) contribute to faster spoilage. Our market has put all the yogurts and such behind doors however they are using the old shelving for other dairy etc. so, I don't think saving energy was their main motive.
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 9, 2013, 5:00 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Shirley because you have done so within the last week.
 

Melania Padilla (179)
Friday January 11, 2013, 10:59 am
Love this website, thanks for posting, noted
 

JL A. (272)
Friday January 11, 2013, 12:19 pm
I do, too, Melania.You cannot currently send a star to Melania because you have done so within the last week.
 
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story


Loading Noted By...Please Wait

 

 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.