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Economy

One Salad Store’s Sweet And Sustainable Path To The Top

The founders of Sweetgreen in front of a Washington, DC location // Wikipedia

Sweetgreen, a US-founded and sourced leader in fast-casual salads, is going even greener. The company is known for its transparency about each location’s ingredients and has recently announced a pledge to go carbon neutral by 2027. 

As of 2020, the Washington, D.C.-based restaurant had 109 brick and mortar stores — a quick and successful growth from its initial opening in 2007 after being founded by three recent graduates. Each store quite literally puts the writing on the wall, with a large blackboard identifying the exact US farm (almost always sourced regionally, unless absolutely not possible) where the menu items come from. The restaurant chain has garnered praise and subsequent collaboration from industry leaders, like Nancy Silverton, Michael Solomonov, and Mark Bittman — all of whom had “signature bowls” on the menu in select locales for a limited period of time. In the hospitality industry, having a crown jewel of the trade run a product offering under your brand is about as good as it gets. 

The founders of Sweetgreen in front of a Washington, DC location // Wikipedia 

The salad chain extraordinaire’s storefronts are mainly located in urban and suburban areas in the United States, but the organization has expanded exponentially since its founding and shows no sign of slowing down. Sweetgreen is backed by S2G Ventures, an Illinois and California venture capitalist firm that focuses exclusively on trailblazing food vendors with a mission of sustainability across the entire lifecycle of its ingredients. 

A Lower East Side, Manhattan location // Wikipedia 

Over the past few months, Sweetgreen has also partnered with Watershed – a company dedicated entirely to helping large food providers lower or eliminate their carbon emissions and climate impact. While Sweetgreen has always had a strong mission of sustainability, the recent aforementioned partnership signals a new chapter of its self-awareness and dedication to fostering a healthy, long-lasting agricultural industry in the United States.  

The agreement marks a six-year endeavor by the seasonal salad chain to reach net-zero emissions, or carbon neutrality, by 2027. “We believe it’s the right thing to do for our business and the planet,” Nicholas Jammet, Chief Concept Officer of Sweetgreen wrote in a statement. Jammet continued by clarifying the company “[knows] real change doesn’t happen overnight – it’s all the steps in between, the little moments, that can lead to a big impact.” 

The company’s commitment to moving towards cleaner methods comes as part of a flurry of cross-industry commitments to carbon neutrality. From streaming companies to luxury vehicles, 2021 has been overwhelmed with companies announcing their respective plans for sustainable solutions. Sweetgreen takes a notably holistic approach to its carbon neutrality and regional sourcing, setting them apart from other similar companies. “Sweetgreen is working across every element of the food system,” the co-founder of Watershed announced in a statement, “how food is grown on farms, transported to customers, and consumed.” 

As Sweetgreen continues to expand and support more regional farmers with its transparency and product offerings, it also is giving outstanding business opportunities to the many agricultural suppliers that have begun to shift towards sustainable harvesting. 

“We invest in companies that are reducing the use of harmful pesticides,” their website reads, “[and that are] improving soil quality, sequestering carbon, and reducing the impact of animal food production.” 

Photo courtesy of Ella Olsson 

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