Whole Foods recently launched a national branding campaign, "Values Matter." A typical TV commercial touts Whole Food’s commitment to organic and sustainable farming and closes with the claim that Whole Foods is "America's healthiest grocery store."
Since our launch in May 2014, Greenwash Action has been working on multiple fronts to challenge greenwash and defend leadership in the green building sector.
Action: Our open letter to the board of the Green Building Initiative (GBI) attracted an impressive list of signatories from the environmental and green building communities and was mailed to all 17 directors and the GBI president.
So why does Whole Foods support Green Globes, the building certification program the chemical, timber, and vinyl industries support because it turns a blind eye to toxic chemicals? How much do “Values Matter” to Whole Foods when it comes to green building?
When asked these questions, Whole Foods' management responded that Green Globes is "much more expedient and cost effective" than its better-known rival, LEED (LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, has been attacked by the chemical industry because it promotes healthier buildings and building materials). They said that Whole Foods supports both LEED and Green Globes, but store construction is managed regionally and 3 of 5 regions had opted to use Green Globes instead of LEED.
In 2013, Whole Foods tilted strongly towards Green Globes and its parent organization, the Green Building Initiative (GBI), when Kathy Loftus, Whole Foods' Global Leader of Sustainable Engineering and Energy Management, joined the GBI board of directors. Her co-directors include senior executives of The Vinyl Institute and the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, as well as timber giants Stimson Lumber and Plum Creek.
Loftus and Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb apparently fail to recognize that Green Globes was set up to provide cover for manufacturers of toxic plastics and chemicals and producers of clearcut lumber. Whole Foods perpetuates the myth that Green Globes is equivalent to LEED, even as Green Globes’ backers have sought to ban the use of LEED for public construction and slandered it in the media because it shines a bright light on chemicals of concern and promotes sustainable forestry.
Tell them that Whole Foods and the GBI need to stop pretending that Green Globes is equivalent to LEED. Ask them to take a stand against attacks that promote monopoly in green building certification. Demand that they make it their official policy to address and avoid toxic chemicals in the built environment.