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Vital Green

Welcome to Vital Green! Our pioneering program does 4 good things:

  1. Fights global warming by offsetting the impacts of shipping.
    Click for details.
  2. Employs innovative SeaSaver™ boxes for most of our shipments. Click for details.
  3. Enables recycling of foam shipping cubes via our innovative free CubeCycle™ program. Click for details.
  4. Promotes sustainable foods and business practices, and supports organizations dedicated to sustainability. Click for details.

The story behind Vital Green™

Since our first day in business — long before earning certification as a "B Corp" — we've sold only sustainably harvested seafood, donated a portion of our profits to planet-protecting programs, and tried to go "green" in other ways. Read on to learn more, or see the summary below.


Randy Hartnell,
Founder/President and former Alaska fisherman


Keeping our "carbon footprint" as small as possible

A rigorous, independent life-cycle assessment of the carbon footprints associated with wild-harvested and farmed fish produced encouraging news.

Studies from Swedish and Canadian universities found that frozen, air-shipped seafood like ours entails fewer carbon emissions, compared with farmed salmon or non-frozen wild fish. (See "Frozen Wild Fish Found Greener than Farmed Salmon or Fresh Wild Fish".)

In 2010, we started using 3-Day Ground for many West Coast shipments, maintaining quality by simply adding a bit more dry ice to shipments.

Then, in 2012, we started trucking goods from our Washington base to a Virginia facility, from where we ground-ship orders to most East Coast addresses. Because trucking burns much less carbon per pound versus air shipments, this initiative cut our carbon emissions quite substantially.

And the global warming effects of your shipment will be offset by our support for a carbon-sequestration project.

Offsetting our carbon emissions by reducing wood-burning
Working through NativeEnergy, Inc., we're helping support the Ethiopia Clean Water Project.

Vital Choice is providing upfront funding for the installation of water filters that will reduce greenhouse gas pollution and bring clean air and water to Ethiopian families.

Ethiopia’s Sidama Zone is famous for its distinctive, fruity coffee. But two thirds of its 250,000 people drink from unsafe water sources and most lack sanitation.

Waterborne illness is a leading cause of death for young children, and untreated water is dangerous to people of all ages.

The people of Sidama also suffer the effects of widespread deforestation, caused in part by the need to burn wood to boil water, which creates lung-damaging indoor pollution and contributes to climate change.

The Hydraid® BioSand water filter offers a safe and practical alternative to boiling of water. It uses centuries-old slow sand technology to remove waterborne pathogens. Installation is easy, there are no moving parts, and no electricity or plumbing is required.

For example, coffee farmer Bogola Kaeso, her husband Daro Barenga, and their nine children have all suffered from typhoid and diarrhea after drinking raw water from the river nearest their home.

As Bogola says, “Since we have been using the Hydraid filter nobody is getting sick. Our kids spend more time in school and Daro and I can focus more on our coffee farm.”

In addition, this project will:
• Pay local staff to oversee program operations and water testing.
• Create a permanent knowledge base about water sanitation in the area.
• Establish local oversight and monitoring to ensure proper filter construction and use.

Jet-related warming effects are also being offset
Our contribution takes into account the added warming effects of jet emissions at high altitudes … an effect called "radiative forcing".

Jet cargo and passenger planes cruise at high altitudes, where carbon emissions exert greater positive radiative forcing effect than would the same emissions at ground level.

We choose to cover the estimated additional warming associated with Vital Choice air shipments ... a choice that doubles the cost of our annual carbon-offset contribution.


About our carbon-offset provider

NativeEnergy, Inc. is a for-profit company partly owned by the non-profit Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (COUP), an organization of Native American tribes.

NativeEnergy uses a unique "help build" model that enables carbon-offset clients like Vital Choice to help finance the construction of new renewable energy projects that need additional upfront funding.

By purchasing a share of a project's long-term offsets, we can help overcome market barriers that discourage the development of high-quality renewable energy projects, and thereby help reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.

To learn more about global warming and see links to independent information, visit NativeEnergy.

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About our SeaSaver™ packaging

Since Vital Choice began shipping frozen foods in 2002, we've been committed to environmental sustainability in all aspects of our business.

One of our biggest challenges has been finding eco-friendly shipping containers that can match the affordability, light weight, durability, and insulating properties of expanded polystyrene (EPS or "Styrofoam").

Most of our shipments now use SeaSaver™ packaging, which feature a soft, flexible, post-consumer-recycled cotton fiber pad covered with a tough, moisture-resistant film, both of which are 100% biodegradable*. The pads keep our dry ice and your frozen food very cold within a 100% recyclable cardboard box.

To learn more, see our April, 2017 newsletter article, SeaSavers Cut Plastic Ocean Pollution.

A minority of our shipments still employ EPS foam shipping containers, which are very light-weight (97% air), thereby sparing shipping-related fuel and emissions. Tiny pellets from degraded EPS can harm birds and marine life, so we will eliminate these boxes entirely as soon as is feasible. In the meantime, you can use the CubeCycle™ program described below to recycle our EPS containers.

*The pads and film have been verified biodegradable according to the ASTM D6400 standard and in accordance with the 2013 Federal Trade Commission Green Guidelines. The inner and outer films contain a non-toxic additive that promotes biodegradation in landfills, as tested by ASTM 5511, ASTM D5209-91, and ASTM D5338.98.

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CubeCycle sends your Vital Choice foam shipping cubes for recycling ... free!

Almost no municipal recycling programs accept the foam (extruded polystyrene or EPS) containers that we and thousands of other firms use to ship perishables.

Foam containers are relatively eco-friendly to start, as we explain below (click here).

But we weren't satisfied, and developed CubeCycle™ – America's first practical EPS-recycling program, to make Vital Choice a greener place to shop.

After many months of working with FedEx and plastics recyclers, our unique, innovative CubeCycle™ program helps our customers recycle their foam shipping cubes, at no cost.

Here's how to CubeCycle™ your Vital Choice foam shipping containers. We recommend that you copy or print these instructions for reference as you proceed through the process.

To view nearby FedEx drop-off centers and obtain a FedEx shipping label for your cube, CLICK HERE.

You'll be taken to a page labeled Vital Green Step #1.

Fill in the information fields, then click "Continue".

You'll be taken to a page labeled Vital Green Step #2, where you'll see a list of FedEx drop-off centers in your area.

IMPORTANT: To avoid a FedEx pick-up fee, you must take your cube to a drop-off center.

  1. COPY THE FEDEX ADDRESS NEAREST YOU*, then click the link provided to view and print your shipping label.
  2. You'll be taken to a FedEx.com Web page titled "Print Your Labels". Click the purple button labeled "Print Selected Labels". (Ignore everything else on the page, including the purple box labeled "Scheduled a Pick-Up for this Order?", as FedEx will NOT pick up your foam cube.)
  3. You'll be taken to a FedEx.com page that displays a pre-addressed shipping label for the nearest recycling center. Upon arrival at this page, you will see a pop-up message advising you to print the label and place it in an Airbill pouch. This is not necessary. Click OK to close that pop-up message.
  4. Print the page using an inkjet or laser printer. After printing the label, you can close your browser. You do not need to click "Continue" or return to Vital Choice.
  5. Cut out the shipping label portion of the page, which is everything above "Piece Description - Packaging".
  6. Remove all old labels and tape from the cube. Use clear packing tape to secure the lid to the cube, and to secure the FedEx shipping label to your clean cube. Cover the FedEx shipping label completely with tape, leaving the bar code fully visible for scanning. (NOTE: Ignore the instructions below the label telling you to pack the items inside another box, as this is not necessary.)
  7. Take your foam cube to the nearest FedEx drop-off center. To avoid a wasted trip, please confirm your chosen drop-off center's hours of operation before you go, by calling it or visiting FedEx.com to find the center's hours.

NOTE: After step 5, you will receive a reminder email from FedEx, which you can ignore and delete.

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Our green partnership with Vital Choice customers

To make shopping as "green" as possible, retailers and shoppers need to partner up. Here's what we do, and what you can do:

Our Part – what Vital Choice does to maximize sustainability

Vital Choice earned certification as a "B Corp" in August of 2014, partly in recognition of our green policies and practices:

  • We source ONLY sustainably harvested seafood species, and natural and organically grown farmed products.
  • We process our seafood near the source. (Some seafood is shipped thousands of miles for processing in distant countries.)
  • We offset the global warming effects of our shipments to customers by funding projects that either reduce carbon and methane emissions, or convert methane into renewable energy.
  • We use innovative recyclable/biodegradable SeaSaver boxes for most of our shipments.
  • Wherever possible, we adopt post-consumer paper and non-toxic, vegetable-based inks for packaging and printed materials.
  • Most of us work in home-based offices, eliminating commute-associated carbon emissions.
  • We donate thousands of dollars annually to environmental organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Marine Stewardship Council, the Raincoast Research Foundation, the National Resources Defense Council, and others working to protect our planet.

Your Part – suggested steps to support sustainability

  • Reduce the number of shipments you receive by placing fewer, larger orders instead of more small orders. This typically lowers your cost per pound … try combining your orders with those of friends and other family members!
  • Compost the biodegradable pads inside our SeaSaver packages, and recycle the cardboard boxes. Reuse any EPS shipping cubes you may receive as storage boxes, coolers, building toys (over age 6), and planters. Or use our CubeCycle program (described above) to ship your cube to the nearest recycling center, FREE. (You can also find an EPS recycling center by clicking here.)

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