“Doing the right thing for the community has always been a founding principle of Jimbo’s,” says Stephanie Morris, sustainability coordinator for the natural grocer with four stores currently open in the San Diego area.

Founded by Jim “Jimbo” Someck in 1984, Jimbo’s has only sold 100% organic produce from the start and is committed to reducing food and packaging waste as well as feeding people nutritious food.

While sustainability has always been part of Jimbo’s “culture and ethos,” says Morris, in 2020, the grocer launched a formalized sustainability program to track its food donations and waste reduction. In 2020, its stores donated 34 tons of food. It has also seen over 6 million bags reused since 1999, when it started its Wooden Nickel program that encourages shoppers to reuse their plastic, paper and cloth bags.

When Jimbo’s flagship location at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center in Carmel Valley opened in 2019, it was home to the West Coast’s first plastic-free water aisle with refillable water station. Its other stores have recently followed suit, eliminating single-use plastic. “With the elimination of single-use plastic bottled water, we weren’t sure if it would dig into sales,” says Kelly Hartford, director of marketing for Jimbo’s, who reports that it hasn’t. “We went for it, and we were rewarded. It speaks to our customers who look to support businesses that support sustainability.”

Meanwhile, Jimbo’s Free Box food waste reduction program benefits staff and the planet. The program gives its staff the opportunity to consume safe and delicious food the grocer can’t sell (usually because of sell-by dates). They can consume Free Box items on-site for free or take them home for just 5 cents. “It’s a great way to try new products,” says Morris, adding what can’t be consumed is composted.

A focus on regenerative agriculture, or what Someck calls “organic-plus,” is well underway for the grocer, who plans to roll out a comprehensive regenerative program for its customers and staff in early 2022.

“Because we were founded on natural and organic, non-GMO from the start, we’ve had a great foundation for our sustainability journey,” Morris says. “We’re committed to supporting our community and creating a more safe and sustainable future.”