Ellwood Thompson’s Environmental Pledge is to practice what we preach. From the containers that serve our locally sourced food to how our staff sips their coffee, our market operates with two things in mind: our community and the environment.

We not only owe this to you, our patrons, who trust us to maintain our place as 2012’s “Most Environmentally Friendly Business in Richmond,” but owe the planet our pledge as well, as it continues to serve us through our daily operations here at Ellwood Thompson’s. Without our community and the environment serving as our foundation, we wouldn’t be who we are today.

Please join us in our commitment to positively impact our environment. Together we can truly make a difference.

Our Environmental Pledge:

We hereby pledge to create and maintain strict and sustainable environmental standards, personally and professionally.

We promise to serve as an example of how practicing healthy living positively impacts both the community and our planet.

We will reduce, reuse and recycle.

We will commit to and encourage the reduction of our community’s carbon footprint.

We will give back, in every way we can, to our people and to our planet.

Click the links to see how you can join Ellwood Thompson’s in our pledge to give back:

Buying and Sourcing Local Products:

Our market depends on our community to function. We purchase goods from local farmers and producers not only because it contributes to our overall health as humans, but also because it greatly reduces the mileage between our farms to your plate, saving money and the planet simultaneously.

Our strong relationships with local farmers contribute to Ellwood Thompson’s pledge in committing to organic growing practices, sustainable soil treatment, fair treatment of farm workers, and animal welfare.

See our local integrity pin? That means your product travelled no more than 100 miles from Richmond.

No Plastic Bags:

We said “goodbye” to plastic bags in 2008, becoming the first grocery store in RVA to stop asking the question “paper or plastic?”

It wasn’t a difficult decision to make. By using our 100% post consumer recycled paper bags, Ellwood Thompson’s saves 200,000 bags a year, saving you money in the process. As part of our bag credit program, we’ll give you 10 cents for every bag used during your visits — including plastic. As long as you’re reusing, we’re game.

Recycling Efforts:

We love to recycle and it shows. While many businesses in Richmond use third party companies for their recycling, we’ve kept our program in-house since 1989. It all starts with our mindful staff, who make recycling a part of their everyday routine by using our many recycling stations, and who say “no” to paper cups and disposable plates.

Cardboard boxes? Yep! We recycle those, too. We also make it convenient for you to pitch-in with recycling stations throughout the store and inside our cafe and dining area. We like to make a difference – an average of 60% of our grocery store waste is recycled.

Reusable and Compostable Food Containers:

Why waste? At Ellwood Thompson’s, you’re encouraged and incentivized to purchase reusable BPA-free plastic containers, use dishes instead of throw-away containers, and utilize compostable containers for your on-the-go moments. These options are available in our market, hot bar, vegetarian bar, and cafe. Help us lessen our ecological footprint. We don’t like stepping on mother nature’s toes!

A BPA-Free Environment:

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the production of certain plastics that can find its way into your system by creeping into food and drinks when those plastics are used as containers. Your health is our concern, so we don’t welcome BPAs. In fact, we only source from companies that use BPA-free containers, we’ve banned the use of petroleum-based plastic bags, and we use BPA-free thermal receipt tape at all of our registers. And yes — you read all that right!

We also encourage you to bring your own containers for water, bulk items, and food dishes, and provide you with BPA-free to-go and drinking containers. When it comes to BPAs, we run a tight ship.

Rain Barrels:

At our grocery store, you’ll find two large 80-gallon rain barrels attached to our gutters outside. These barrels help us naturally water the plants and herbs that we sell in front of our store without relying on the city’s supply. We hope to spread the word to the RVA community about using rain barrels at home and let everyone know about the Storm Water Tax Credit that the City of Richmond offers. You can save money and save the planet at the same time! As we like to say: “When it rains, it stores.”

Solar Panels:

Renewable energy sources is definitely “one of our things.” On our south-facing roof, you’ll find our growing number of solar panels, installed as part of a program that started in 2012 when we teamed up with Richmond-based company Urban Grid Solar.

Our goal is to eventually have the entire roof filled with solar panels, and we’re well on our way! You can view a live feed of our energy usage and storage by clicking here. For every bit of sunlight we catch, it’s just another step towards reducing our impact on the environment.


Our compostable to-go containers are great, but they are just the start of our composting program. We also compost most of our food scraps and the leftover pulp from our juicers. Often, RVA farmers pick up this compost for their use, so we donate as much as they want. After all, it’s the least we can do. All the leftover compost is then taken to a local company that turns it into the organic “compost tea” fertilizer we sell in the summer months.

Food Waste Reductions & Donations:

As a grocery store we sell lots of food, which means we tend to also produce a lot of food waste. We don’t like to throw out waste like many other stores, though. Instead, we have plans in place to keep that from happening.

Our quarter bin program helps us reduce the amount of food we throw out by offering nearly expired items or food (like bruised apples) to Ellwood Thompson employees for 25 cents. It’s a great deal that helps us distribute food before we have to take it off the shelves.

If there is produce that needs to be taken down, we like to donate it to the animals in Richmond’s Maymont Park. Our Maymont Park food donations give animals a free lunch!

We also make food donations to RVA’s grassroots organization, Food Not Bombs. This local organization helps feed the needy every Sunday afternoon at Monroe park. Click here to visit their website and learn how you can help those in need.

Environmentally Friendly Building Materials:

The architects and contractors we choose to work with help us build our store using locally-sourced and reclaimed materials. You’ll notice we use building materials like heart pine and decorate with things like recycled glass, the latter of which makes up the countertops in Ellwood Thompson’s cafe. We look for durable materials that don’t just boast a “green” image, but actually provide us with a more sustainable way of building.

Besides just our building materials, we like to stay environmentally active by keeping our energy meters low when our lights are on. We do this by using LED and fluorescent bulbs and fixtures that require less energy to run, give us great lighting, and put out less heat. Not only do they save us energy, but these bulbs and fixtures also tend to last way longer than your ordinary bulb. Why would we not use them?


Richmond, VA has a solid bus system, several local bike shops, scooter shops and hundreds of miles of sidewalks. As part of our mission to not only bring people healthy food, but play our part in making RVA one of the most eco-friendly cities in the world, we like to reward those who choose these methods of getting to our store.

Enter our Envirocredit program and we’ll take 25-cents off your purchase when you get to our store by walking, biking, bussing, running, skipping, skating or by any other means of travel that helps reduce emissions. Just make sure to mention your mode of transportation to your Ellwood’s cashier and they’ll take 25-cents off your bill at checkout.

And don’t worry, we have plenty of parking. We provide biking, scooter and moped parking for all of our green-going customers in the community!

Store Signage:

Last — but definitely not least — is our store signage. At first glance it may not seem like such a big deal, but at Ellwood Thompson’s, having eco-friendly signage was a major step in giving back to our planet.

If you take a look around the market, you’ll see lots of signs, the majority of which are made from reclaimed woods and chalkboard. The use of chalkboard helps us recycle our signage by not having to throw signs away every time a deal is updated or a price is changed.

Where most stores don’t think of how much paper waste is being produced by changing signage, we keep our eye on waste because if it impacts us, it impacts our community.