Our Environmental Programs

Our Environmental Programs

We share this beautiful planet, and we need to work together to protect it! Here are a few of the ways Kowalski’s is working to manage food waste and trash as well as some ways you can extend earth-friendly practices at home.

Second Harvest Heartland logo Second Harvest Heartland logo

What We Do

  • Donate fresh, leftover food items to local food banks. At the end of the day, we donate all of our fresh, perishable foods to Second Harvest Heartland to help children, families and neighbors facing hunger in our communities.
  • Distribute leftover food items ideal for livestock to local farms. After a few days some of our produce may not be appealing to you, but to some of the local farm animals, it's delicious. That's why we donate these perishable food items to Barthold Farms.
  • Recycle 100% of all cardboard materials. All of our cardboard boxes are baled and recycled by our local partners: Pioneer Paper Stock in Minneapolis and WestRock in St. Paul.
  • Recycle 100% of all plastic containers, bags, shrink wrap, paper and cans. Any and all plastic containers, bags, shrink wrap, paper, tin and aluminum cans are recycled using the services of Eureka Recycling in Minneapolis and Merrick, Inc., in Vadnais Heights. Merrick's recycling program diverts nearly 1 million pounds of plastic from local incinerators and landfills every year, recycling it into composite wood for maintenance-free decking and patio furniture.
  • Offer recycling, composting and waste-to-energy bins in our cafés. You can help us reach our sustainability goals by separating your food waste into the proper bins when dining in-store. Watch our video below for a quick how-to-sort guide.
  • All other collected waste is compacted and sent to local energy recovery centers throughout the Twin Cities area. Click here to learn more.
  • Offer a 5¢ refund per bag. The great thing about our bags is that they can be reused time and time again. We don’t want to see our bags in the landfill. That’s why we gladly offer a 5¢ refund for every bag you bring in and use to bag your groceries. You can even opt to donate your refund to Great River Greening, a nonprofit working to restore and conserve our Minnesota lands and waters.


What You Can Do:

  • Reuse plastic and paper bags. Reusing both plastic and paper shopping bags significantly reduces emissions and waste.
  • Use canvas or vinyl shopping bags for your groceries. Our reusable bags are reliable and durable. Sturdier than paper or plastic bags, they hold up better over time and allow you to carry a lot more, meaning less trips to your car – and less waste.
  • Recycle plastic bags and wrap. We partner with Merrick, Inc., to offer plastic bag recycling in our stores. Look for the recycling bins near the front of our stores to drop off plastic shopping bags, bubble wrap, plastic bubble mailers (with labels removed), bread bags, newspaper sleeves, plastic toilet paper packaging and clean food storage bags.

Check out our video below for an overview of our bag recycling and reusable bag programs.

Man on a beach holding up a reusable water bottle with the words Life Without Plastic printed on the side Man on a beach holding up a reusable water bottle with the words Life Without Plastic printed on the side
  • Recycle or limit your water bottles, or choose to use a refillable water bottle made of a refill-safe material. Add a water filter to your faucets at home to ensure a clean supply of drinking water.
  • Compost your food waste or participate in a residential food scraps program. About 20% of our trash is food waste. Composting is an environmentally friendly way to reduce waste in landfills while putting your food scraps to good use. And composting isn't just for gardeners! If you live in the Twin Cities, you may be able to sign up to participate in your county's or city's food scraps drop-off program. A growing number of cities are even launching curbside pick-up programs for food waste. Learn more about food scraps recycling in your county: Ramsey, Washington, HennepinAnokaDakota, Carver or Scott.
Kitchen Compostable Waste Kitchen Compostable Waste
Installing LED Lightbulbs Installing LED Lightbulbs
  • Buy local. Purchase locally grown food when possible to support independent, local farms and the environment. They use fewer resources on the way to your plate, and they're usually fresher, too!
  • Reduce hot water use. Wash your clothes in cold or warm water, rinse dishes in cold water and wait to run the dishwasher until it is full. These simple practices can save up to 500 pounds of CO₂ per year.
  • Use compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb or LED light bulb lowers your carbon footprint.
  • Turn off electronics. Turning off your electronics when you're not using them saves thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Some appliances and devices use electricity even when turned off, so unplug those used infrequently for even greater efficiency.
  • Adjust your thermostat. Moving your thermostat down 2 degrees in the winter and up 2 degrees in the summer could save 2,000 pounds of CO₂ per year.