Be a Zero Waste Hero in Four Easy Steps

By Stephanie Koerella, Education Coordinator

Reducing our waste has continued to be of greater concern for Rogue Valley residents, especially since January, when options for recycling became even more limited. While the Ashland Food Co-op is ramping up our efforts to reduce waste as a business, there is a lot that our community can do at home to help the cause.

If going zero waste in your home is overwhelming, my advice is this: Don’t worry! Simply start small with these four easy steps. One of these steps is both easy and incredibly impactful, to “Share What you Learned”, so really it’s just three steps.

Stop Throwing Your Money Away 

It may surprise you that 20% of the food we buy never gets eaten and is thrown in the trash. Throwing out food is a double-whammy; not only does it waste resources that go into making the food and transporting it to our home, but the price adds up. It’s like throwing your dollar bills right into the trash can. Being smarter about food helps save our planet’s precious resources. For example, did you know that throwing out two overripe bananas (approx 1 lb) is equivalent to turning on your shower for 42 minutes straight? That’s how much water is wasted with the tossing of two bananas!

  • Zero Waste Hero Exercise: Make a waste audit! Write down everything you throw out (at home and work) for two weeks straight. Notice any trends of what you frequently throw out and buy less of those items in the future. This helps you save money and precious resources.

Buy In Bulk

By refusing to pay for packaged goods, you’re buying just food, not the carton. If you’ve taken my free Co-op class, Eating Right When The Budget’s Tight, you’ll know you can save an average of over 50% when you buy the same items in bulk. The co-op’s bulk section hits all of your family’s needs: herbs/spices, grains, beans, granola, nuts, flours, oils, vinegars, honey, dish soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and more. You’ll never have to buy a plastic bottle of dish soap or a pound of pasta in plastic again.

  • Zero Waste Hero Exercise: Bring your own container and say no to plastic bags forever. We can save plastic bags from the oceans AND save money? Happy days! (For more info on how to weigh your glass jars, check out the scale in our bulk section or ask a friendly staff member.)

Bamboo Utensils

Your Flatware On-The-Go. Keeping a set of bamboo utensils in your car can help save the planet? Yes! You’ll find that once you have bamboo utensils in your car, you’re able to say “no thanks” to plastic forks and spoons. You’ll be enjoying your summer ice cream or to-go salads sans-plastic. The world will thank you for taking this one simple step towards less waste.

  • Zero Waste Hero Exercise: Put Down The Plastic Straw. Several companies are making reusable straws out of glass, stainless steel, and other materials, so you’ll never have to drink and discard again.

And Most Importantly, Share What You Learned

These practices may seem small, but when you add them up, you’ll be blown away at how much waste you avoid in a day, a week, a month, and a year. We all want to reduce our footprint, and be better stewards of the environment. Here’s your chance, spread the word!

More Co-op News

4 Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste

It’s the New Year, our favorite time for goal-setting, making positive resolutions, and shifting our impact. One of the Co-op’s goals is to become a Zero Waste facility. Our staff works to divert as much food waste as we can - and we hope our member-owners will join us in this goal too.

Understanding CBD

The world of CBDs is continuing to grow, adding to our already vast assortment of medicine available, and sometimes adding to the questions we have about it. We asked our Wellness team to answer the five most common questions about CBD here at the Ashland Food Co-op.

How is CBD different from what I might find in a dispensary?

Meet Cooking Class Instructor Charlie Douglass

Many talented local chefs share their expertise in the Co-op Kitchen. Charlie Douglass is no exception. As the former Master Chocolatier at Harry and David, Charlie knows a thing or two about chocolate and candy making. 

Tell us how your love of cooking and food began.

Meet Cooking Class Instructor Tiazza Rose

From bread baking to Moroccan cooking, many talented local chefs share their expertise in the Co-op Kitchen. We'd like you to meet a few of them. Tiazza Rose has been teaching the Ashland community the art of Moroccan cooking for years. If you haven't taken a class from Tiazza yet, you should. Here's why.


Tell us how your love of cooking and food began.

We'll cook. You feast.

Spend more time relaxing with friends and family this holiday. Order the Deli’s ready-to-heat and serve Thanksgiving meal without all the fuss. We make everything from scratch and all recipes use the highest quality ingredients.

Choose from three options:

Give the Gift of Good Food

During the month of November, Co-op shoppers can nourish their own families and help fight hunger in the Rogue Valley. We’ve teamed up once again with Smart Chicken® for the Smart Giving Holiday Challenge.

Here’s how it works.

  • For every 10 pounds of Smart Chicken® you purchase from the Meat Department or the Deli, Smart Chicken® will donate one pound of chicken to a local non profit

We're All Turtles

By Dean Williamson, Board of Director

My grandmother loved to talk. Oh, could she talk! And she had one expression that I’ve always really liked. “If you come across a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be pretty sure it didn’t get there by itself.”

Love Local with the Local Guy

Throughout September, we will be celebrating all things local. And no one loves local or is more local than our Temporary Demo Coordinator, Brighton Litjens. He was basically raised at the Co-op, has a strong passion for local farmers and producers and loves delighting shoppers with delicious samples and great deals. Who better to tell us about loving local than the "Local Guy" himself?

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Meet Board of Director Trine Ostergaard

Trine Ostergaard is a newly elected Ashland Food Co-op Board of Director. She brings a world, literally, of experience to the table and has a sincere passion and love for the Co-op. We are thrilled to have her aboard and asked her to answer a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Meet Board of Director Dean Williamson

Dean Williamson is a newly elected Ashland Food Co-op Board of Director. He brings to the table a plethora of co-op experience and a love of chocolate chip cookies. We are thrilled to have him aboard and asked him to answer a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Staff Picks: Favorite Local Products

September is Love Local Month!  All month long we’re celebrating our local farmers and vendors with demos, events and more. Here are some of our staff's favorite local products.


How Can I Reduce My Plastic Use at the Co-op?

By Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator

Plastic pollution today is a global dilemma. Did you know that more than 40% of plastic is used once, then tossed? In 2015, 79% of total plastic waste ended up in landfills or the environment. How can our co-op help reduce the amount of single-use plastics? Luckily, we offer a variety of options for owners.

Stainless Steel Straws

Meet Pachamama Coffee Cooperative

By Lauren Taber, Pachamama Coffee Cooperative

Pachamama Coffee Cooperative started in 2001 with a few simple questions in mind: what would it look like to take Fair Trade a step further? How can coffee farmers be in direct relationship with end consumers in the United States?

We found that the answer was even simpler: cooperative ownership. Pachamama Coffee has been 100% farmer-owned since day one, and is currently owned by 140,000 small scale family farmers across the coffee producing regions of the world.