CHANGES ARE A-BLOWIN' in the gift card section at Whole Foods Market.
Since early 2006, the supernatural retailer has purchased wind power credits to power all its offices and stores. It's now extending the same opportunity to consumers. In early November, the 187-store chain started offering $5 and $15 gift cards in 76 stores, located near checkouts or in its Whole Body departments.
The gift cards, from Renewable Choice Energy in Boulder, Colo., gives consumers the chance to help the United States move from fossil fuel-powered electricity to wind-powered electricity.
“Whole Foods thought it would be a great stocking stuffer, and launched it in time for the holidays,” said Ted Rose, Renewable Choice's director of business development.
When shoppers buy a $5 card, Renewable Choice puts 250 kilowatt hours of wind-generated electricity on the power grid on the customers' behalf. A $15 card buys 750 kilowatt hours — enough to power an average home for a month.
Whole Foods' executives asked Renewable Choice earlier this year to develop a “tangible way” for consumers to embrace wind power, and Renewable Choice came up with the gift card, Rose said.
While the chain has an exclusive agreement with Renewable Choice to sell Wind Power gift cards through the end of the year, the company is in talks with all types of retailers to carry the cards, Rose said. Consumers can also order gift cards from Renewable Choice's website.
As expected, the back of the gift cards serve as an educational platform. Renewable Choice explains how wind energy credits work and the value of purchasing “clean electricity” over electricity powered by coal and gas.
“The whole point is not to just sell the product, but educate people about a whole area of their lives that they may not have given thought to,” Rose said.
An educational poster is also placed near the cards, and Whole Foods' associates have a list of frequently asked questions about wind energy and the gift cards that they can give consumers, or use themselves to answer inquiries.