To Buy or Not To Buy?

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Issue 268
September/October 2011
What Comes Next?


To Buy or Not To Buy?

issue cover 268

Cover: Ai Weiwei, April 2009. Photograph copyright: Elisa Haberer

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Can supermarkets ever be good for the environment?

Photograph: Barn Owl Centre in Gloucester, courtesy The Co-operative

Photograph: Barn Owl Centre in Gloucester, courtesy The Co-operative

In the midst of relentless news about the serious decline of Britain’s farmland bird species and bee populations, it’s encouraging to hear about a supermarket that is actively working to provide wildlife habitat on its own farms. The supermarket is, of course, The Co-operative – the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by shareholders but by its 6 million members – and since most of us use supermarkets on a regular basis, it’s good to know that at least one is working with Nature, not against it.

The Co-op’s new ‘Habitat Heroes’ venture has been established on six of its farms (the Co-op is also the UK’s biggest farming organisation, with 50,000 acres), providing owl nesting boxes, an artificial otter holt, bee corridors, wild-flower meadows, bat boxes and water-vole protection (whereby the farm manager staggers ditch clearance to allow the voles time to reproduce).

Sourcing groceries from a company that conserves Nature in this way can surely assuage a little of our ‘supermarket guilt’?

Lorna Howarth is Development Director at Artists Project Earth.

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