Q&A with ButcherBox’s Evadne Cokeh, VP of Social and Environmental Responsibility

Investing in farmers and soil health while meeting sustainability goals through carbon removal purchases from Truterra

Truterra, LLC, the sustainability business of Land O’Lakes, Inc., recently announced that a leading direct-to-consumer meat brand, ButcherBox, has purchased carbon dioxide removals to offset emissions associated with the shipping and transportation of its home delivery meat subscription service. Why did ButcherBox, a certified B Corporation, decide to work with Truterra amid the landscape of carbon programs available? How does this purchase fit in with the company’s broader sustainability goals? We caught up with Evadne Cokeh, Vice President of Social and Environmental Responsibility at ButcherBox, to learn more.

Truterra: How will ButcherBox’s recent carbon purchase from Truterra help to address the growing emissions impact of transportation?

Cokeh: ButcherBox has been on a journey to understand our overall carbon footprint within our supply chain, including understanding the farming practices that are taking place that contribute to better environmental outcomes. We also have been digging into research on carbon sequestration.
When we first applied for our B Corp certification, we found focusing on our environmental impact was an area of opportunity for us, so we set out to better understand our carbon footprint. Shipping and transportation were the areas where we could both get the most accurate measurements of our emissions and have an impact in offsetting them. It’s an important activity for our business, so we worked with a third-party organization to quantify the emissions in our shipping and transportation, particularly the journey from our fulfillment centers to our customers’ doorsteps. 
Rather than just offsetting those emissions immediately, we wanted to take a holistic approach to our business and identify where we could make improvements. As a first step, we were able to figure out how to reduce the use of air shipments, a significant contributor to our emissions. We also identified how to reduce the number of deliveries that were re-shipped to customers. These two activities lowered emissions, but we were still emitting carbon, so we began to look at carbon offset options like Truterra’s carbon program. We found that carbon offsets could help us move toward carbon-neutral shipping while investing in farmers, soil health, and agriculture. 
Now, we are able to make a carbon-neutral shipping claim, and we’ve also invested in a future in agriculture that is more sustainable and supports farmers. 

Truterra: Why did ButcherBox decide to offset its emissions? How do you see offsetting emissions helping to meet the company’s sustainability commitments? 

Cokeh: Authenticity is an important value for both myself and ButcherBox, and we are not taking a marketing-first approach to our sustainability because we honor this value. Instead, we have honed in on where we can make the most impact and provide consumers with the most accurate information about our sustainability work.
Offsetting emissions – such as through Truterra’s carbon program – is a way to invest in the overall sustainability of the current agriculture system. We have poultry and pork products, and these animals are consuming corn and soybeans. If we can support farmers in their efforts in making row crop operations more sustainable through investment in carbon offsets, this trickles into our overall supply chain. 
We reduced our shipping and transportation emissions, but we couldn’t get it to zero on our own. The electric freight industry is still being developed, and frankly, there are not a lot of options to decarbonize. Purchasing offsets through Truterra’s carbon program gives us a short-term solution to reducing our overall carbon footprint while investing in practices and research methodologies that could improve sustainability in our overall supply chain.

Truterra: The carbon offset market is getting more crowded all the time, and it’s becoming harder to compare the growing list of options. What was at the top of ButcherBox’s list when looking for the best fit in carbon removals?

Cokeh: When we started looking at options for offsetting our shipping and transportation emissions, we were interested in exploring carbon assets that were generated from improved soil health and carbon sequestration on livestock operations. We researched the carbon offset options that were available, but we didn’t feel confident in the methodologies – measurements of carbon assets from livestock operations are more complex and not as developed as other programs. We decided as a company that our next best option was to look at programs focused on row crop operations, and Truterra surfaced as a company that we wanted to work with. We hope that investing in carbon assets in this form will help further the industry and provide a better understanding of the complexities between livestock and soil health. In addition, we invested in a multi-year research project led by Noble Research Institute that aims to quantify soil health metrics for grazing land environments. 

Truterra: Why did ButcherBox decide to work with Truterra?

Cokeh: We wanted to invest in carbon offsets where we could feel good about how they were being tracked, measured, and verified, because it is important to us to know how these offsets are making an impact on the soil and resulting in carbon sequestration. We dug through hundreds of pages of Truterra’s documentation on its program, and we were confident in the methodology and verification that is used in the program.
We also recognized that farmers were at the center of Truterra’s carbon program. Across multiple conversations with Truterra folks, it became clear to us that Truterra had good relationships with the farmers involved in their program and was committed to listening to these farmers. Part of our mission is ensuring a better overall food system for farmers, so Truterra’s commitment to their farmers stood out to us.