Grace gets top marks for being environmentally friendly
"Extremely surprised, we are extremely surprised," gushed Angella Grandison-Reid moments after colleague Dadre-Ann Graham, van sales representative at GraceKennedy, had collected the award for Best Environmentally Friendly Exhibit/Product on Sunday at Expo Jamaica 2016 inside the National Arena.
The winning booth, which had a wide range of Grace products on display with promoter Brithney Clarke standing in as 'shopkeeper' at Aunty Maisy's One Stop Shop, and a working kitchen in full swing from the other end, was well designed and seemed to be constructed from high-end material.
Not so, at least not with regard to the construction material, Grandison-Reid, the consumer services manager, divulged.
"If you look at the booth, you will realise that everything is from what we could find around the factories and the distribution centres. We refurbished it and we said we will spend back the money on ensuring that our consumers are engaged - our lines are very, very long. So this is not a big, expensive booth, because the money is really to meet our consumers' needs and so forth, and we still want to be aesthetically pleasing," she told The Gleaner.
Though finding it hard to contain her excitement over the award, the consumer services manager was still able to share pieces of the company's environmental awareness and action journey, which had led to the win.
"We believe that we must not only invest in the local economy in terms of raw material for our food and beverage line ... . So all the material for the booth is recycled wood," Grandison-Reid said.
"The counters we have used repeatedly, and, of course, we change the top and fix it up a little. The fridge was earmarked for dumping and we said to the contractor, 'Go and make a frame for it, go and make a case for it' and so forth because we believe in ... ensuring that we care for the environment."
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
It was only after a very close second look that it became clear that the side panels for the display cooler were, in fact, made from plywood, but the sturdiness of the benches, smooth finish of the floor, as well as attractive countertops, gave no clue that they had started life elsewhere.
The GraceKennedy executive offered this take: "It only goes to show that we are leading by example, that you can use things found in Jamaica that are just as beautiful that you can get from looking at the environment that you can use, so that you don't have to depend on so much imports."
She was, however, minded to explain that yesterday's win was only the latest chapter in an ongoing environment-friendly commitment by the company, which was started in Jamaica in 1922.
"We are involved in coastal clean-up, you name it. We are doing the recycling Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica project because we take the environment serious. If you do not care for the environment in a sustainable manner, then generations to come are not going to have anything, you understand?
"So that's what's important to us. The light bulbs are LED that they have used before, because we believe in energy conservation as well, so everything is all about conserving, reducing and reusing."
To this end, the company is now looking at using more environmentally friendly packaging material.
"We have to talk about biodegradable material, so we are looking on the packaging format as well."