EcoUnit Partners with Organic Valley to Supercharge Sustainable Consumer Behavior


ecounit logoHow do you effectively shift consumer behavior with minimal cost to you as a business and minimum effort required of consumers? EcoUnit is one company attempting to answer that question.

When we last wrote about them in June, they were testing out ways to reward customers for bringing in their own bags. This earns them EcoUnits, redeemable for anything from store discounts to donations to local eco non profits of choice. As mentioned, the pilot store program was a huge success, a 77 percent increase in reusable bag use in the first two months after launch.

Where are they now?
Doing well, apparently, as the company just launched a program in conjunction with Organic Valley and Oregon/northern California regional supermarket chain Ray’s Food Place.

EcoUnit is building on the bag program it began there, and are now expanding it so that whenever someone makes a purchase of an Organic Valley product, he or she will also earn EcoUnit credits.

Why is this a smart move? For a few reasons:

Beyond the obvious benefit to Organic Valley in increased sales, it takes what may have been merely a commodity item purchase (dairy products) and turns it into a tangible, easily obtainable, meaningful donation to one of four environmental causes in as little as two visits, at no extra cost to the consumer.

For those already familiar with the Organic Valley story (collective of organic family farmers forming a large impact collective brand) this is a short step,  likely to increase loyalty. For those unaware of the back story, this program will both introduce them to a brand and a benefit they may never have considered their purchase making. And, they may also now consciously choose to shop at Ray’s Food Place rather than other stores with the same offerings, with the accompanying sales of other products.

It also makes sense on a branding level, as it’s not an extraneous add on by a brand trying to curry favor with consumers, but a relevant addition to a clear commitment as a business to make a positive impact. Look at Organic Valley‘s site and you’ll see, it has a count, right up top, of pounds of pesticides saved by your purchases. EcoUnit’s program fits, glove in hand.

Turning grocery shopping into a tool for river conservation, tree planting, and for those that need that extra oomph, a chance to win a year of free foods, courtesy Organic Valley seems like something that should be replicated, often. The economic, consumer, and environmental benefits are clear.

Readers: What other consumer behavior change initiatives have you seen out there that we can learn from?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing. || ==> For more, see

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  5. Most mainstream supermarkets give you a 3-5 cent “bag credit” for each own bag you bring. Very few people know about this, and even fewer use it. Repackage as “green” and promote?

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