The Nature Conservancy, the Billion Oyster Project and Whole Foods Market to raise awareness in protecting our oceans and oysters

Event at Whole Foods Market Columbus Circle aims to educate consumers on the many reasons to love oysters

New York, NY, 2016-Feb-12 — /EPR Retail News/ — From coast to coast, The Nature Conservancy is working to restore and rebuild populations of wild oysters. In February and March of 2016, Whole Foods Market and the Conservancy—two organizations dedicated to protecting our oceans and oysters—are working together to raise national awareness of this urgent conservation work. Right here in New York City, just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Billion Oyster Project is joining in—making it an all hands on deck effort to show some love for this important bivalve.

This collaborative effort is being celebrated with an in-store event, “Eat, Shuck, Love,” at Whole Foods Market Columbus Circle – On Tap. On Friday, Feb. 12th, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. The Nature Conservancy, Whole Foods Market and the Billion Oyster Project (BOP) will host an oyster happy hour with $1 oysters and drink specials at the store’s On Tap Bar. The event will also offer attendees an opportunity to learn more about oysters and the health of New York Harbor.

“Oysters are amazing creatures. They filter water, provide habitat for other wildlife, and oyster reefs help protect us from storm surge,” said Bill Ulfelder, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in New York. “New York was once the richest oyster grounds in the world, and we have the opportunity to help bring them back for people and nature. And sustainably harvested, oysters can provide a good livelihood for many. We are delighted Whole Foods has provided The Nature Conservancy and the Billion Oyster Project with an opportunity to reach consumers and share why oyster restoration and water quality work should remain a key conservation priority.”

Oysters act as “ecosystem engineers” of bays and estuaries, filtering impurities from the millions of gallons of freshwater that flow into the ocean. An individual adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, which means a healthy one-acre reef has the potential to filter approximately 24 million gallons of water per day.  These hard working shellfish also provide a natural buffer against storms and sea-level rise. Oyster reefs and beds create habitat for various sea life, such as small fish, blue crab and shrimp, contributing tremendously to the economic vitality of local fisheries and helping maintain a diverse marine environment.

“The Billion Oyster Project is so excited to have The Nature Conservancy join us as one of nearly 100 partners in our effort to restore New York Harbor,” said BOP co-founder Murray Fisher. “Restoring a self-sustaining oyster population in the New York metropolitan community was always an ambitious goal, and one that we can’t achieve alone. But today the prospect for a future with a beautiful, abundant and accessible New York Harbor just significantly improved. The Nature Conservancy’s national reach and experience in oyster restoration in a variety of settings means that this partnership is one of the most powerful that we could have formed. We can’t wait to get to work applying the lessons from the Conservancy’s dozens of other oyster restoration projects to our work here in New York Harbor.”

This event comes just one week after the partnership between the Conservancy and the Billion Oyster Project was formalized. BOP’s students and staff will be working with the Conservancy on ongoing research and monitoring as the two organizations move forward in the effort to restore reefs to the Harbor.

“This science initiative will not only take steps toward better understanding what it will take to restore the health of NY Harbor, it will also provide a greater understanding of shellfish restoration in coastal cities like Miami, Boston, and Houston,” Ulfelder said.

Despite the widespread decline of wild oysters, consumers can still feel good about eating oysters, provided they select the right ones.

“Not only are oysters delicious, healthy and easy to prepare, eating Responsibly Farmed oysters is part of the solution for reversing trends in dwindling wild oyster populations around the country,” said Carrie Brownstein, seafood quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “Oysters’ popularity is on the rise, so it’s extremely important that we provide shoppers access to responsibly sourced options they can trust. Whole Foods Market ensures that all mollusks offered in our stores are coming from farms that meet our rigorous standards, including prohibiting pesticides, monitoring water quality, protection of the coastal environment, evaluation of sediments on the seafloor, traceability from farm to store and third-party audits to prove standards are being met.”

In addition to this and other events around the country, Whole Foods Market is planning to support on-the-ground oyster habitat restoration throughout North America. Stores in Seattle, Oakland, Austin, Atlanta and New Orleans will all be hosting various activities including wine and oyster pairing events, “shuck-offs,” and other special promotions.

All the more reason to love oysters this Valentine’s Day: according to a new study in the Journal of Applied Ecology, just one acre of restored oyster reef provides 1.5 tons of extra fish and seafood per year.

To learn more about society’s love for oysters and the many ways they love us back, visit

For more information on events in your local Whole Foods Market, visit  

To learn more about the Nature Conservancy/Billion Oysters Partnership, visit
Rachel Winters,
The Nature Conservancy

Susannah Black,
Billion Oyster Project

Michael Sinatra,
Whole Foods Market

About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit us on the web at

About the Billion Oyster Project
Billion Oyster Project is an ecosystem restoration and education project aimed at restoring one billion live oysters to New York Harbor by the year 2035, and engaging hundreds of thousands of school children through restoration based STEM education programs.  Students at New York Harbor School have been growing and restoring oysters in New York Harbor for the last six years.  They have learned to SCUBA dive safely, raise oyster larvae, operate and maintain vessels, build and operate commercial-scaled oyster nurseries, design underwater monitoring equipment and conduct long-term authentic research projects all in the murky, contaminated, fast moving waters of one of the busiest ports in the country.  Together and with the help of many partners these students have restored over sixteen million oysters. Fifty-four schools have partnered with the project to provide authentic, place-based science and math lessons through the lens of oyster restoration.  Each year, thousands of students participate in these learning opportunities.


The Nature Conservancy and Wegmans Food Markets celebrate Earth Day all month long with an April 2015 initiative designed to protect lands and waters

ROCHESTER, NY, 2015-4-1 — /EPR Retail News/ — Want to help nature? There’s a bag for that! Once again, The Nature Conservancy and Wegmans Food Markets are celebrating Earth Day all month long with an April 2015 initiative designed to encourage more sustainable behaviors and raise funds for protecting lands and waters.

Last year, Wegmans and The Nature Conservancy worked together on a recycling initiative in honor of Earth Day that succeeded in recycling 220,000 pounds of plastic bags and film—25 percent more than what was recycled at Wegmans stores in April the year prior.

This April, we’re taking it one step further, encouraging use of reusable bags as the best choice for the environment over plastic or paper. To show commitment to caring for nature on multiple levels, Wegmans will contribute 25¢ to The Nature Conservancy for every pound of paper and plastic bags saved, with a minimum contribution of $10,000.

Pounds saved will be calculated based on pounds of plastic and paper bags used in April 2015 compared with pounds of plastic and paper used in April 2014. Funds raised will support The Nature Conservancy’s conservation work in Central and Western New York, where Wegmans is headquartered.

”By each of us taking little steps every day, we can have tremendous positive impact on our environment,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans manager of sustainability. “Breaking old habits and creating new ones is hard, which is why we are once again working with The Nature Conservancy this April to raise awareness about this issue and to reward our customers’ efforts to do the right thing.”

“The health of our lands, waters and communities depends upon responsible actions and good stewardship,” said Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy’s chapter director in Central & Western New York. “Support from Wegmans is unique because it helps the environment twice—by encouraging an everyday action that helps preserve resources, while also providing essential funds for local conservation. We are thrilled to once again work with Wegmans, its employees and customers to protect and restore important places.”

The goal is to inspire people by showing them that small personal choices―like using reusable bags―can make a big impact for local communities and the environment at large. Globally, plastic and paper bags have a significant ecological impact. Their production, transportation and disposal contribute to climate change, and bags can pollute rivers, beaches and parks if they are not recycled properly. Wegmans has a well-established year-round program for recycling bags, but would like to see more of its customers converting to reusables as the most sustainable option.

“We’re optimistic that together we can significantly reduce the amount of bags we use and generate an exciting contribution for conservation,” said Wadsworth. “This initiative is a great way for our people and customers to celebrate Earth Day, and help take action in their community to create a healthier and more sustainable world all year long.”


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is an 85-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for 18 consecutive years, ranking #7 in 2015. The company also ranked #1 for Corporate Reputation, among the 100 ‘most-visible companies’ nationwide in the 2014 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient ® study.

Contact Information:  
Kate Frazer, The Nature Conservancy, Central & Western NY communications manager, 339-222-2014
Jo Natale, Wegmans’ vice president of media relations, 585-429-3627