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

Food waste at the Co-op

By Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator

How many times in the past month have you reached back in the fridge to snack on some fresh strawberries only to discover… mold?! In the United States, 40% of food is wasted every year. Luckily, how we address food waste can have a major impact. According to Paul Hawkin’s Drawdown, reducing food waste is #3 on the list of best ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. At the Co-op, we use the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy as a guide to bettering our own practices.

Wellness Secret Weapons

There are still plenty of colds and viruses making their rounds, and we want to help you better defend against them!

In January, we asked on social media what kind of secret weapons you use in the winter to stay healthy. We had a lot of responses, so we'll start with the All-Stars.

With your initial recommendations, our Wellness team reviewed the suggestions and picked the products with the highest quality standards and best feedback. Check those out below.


Mushrooms for wellness

You may have heard about the fascinating discovery that trees can communicate with each other. What’s the secret? The mycelia - tiny strands of fungus - in the soil form a vast underground network through which trees send chemical signals to their neighbors.

The mycelia differs from the fruiting body of the mushroom, which is the reproductive component that contains spores and is thought to be higher in Beta Glucans.

What to do with all this citrus?!

So you grabbed a few too many extra oranges and grapefruits and lemons (and some finger limes, and some satsumas…), and rather than watch them go bad, we want to provide you with some ideas on how to reduce waste. You’ll also get to enjoy citrus in a lot of new ways!

There are many guides and recipes across the internet (like this one by our friends at Grow Forage Cook Ferment), so here are a few ideas to get your creative and citrus juices flowing.

Update from the General Manager: "Food for Paradise" campaign

Ashland Food Co-op's General Manager, Emile Amarotico, ends 2018 on a very uplifting note with a report back on the "Food for Paradise" donation campaign. Watch the video below, or read on for an extended written update.

Hello, this is Emile Amarotico, the general manager of Ashland Food Co-op with an update on the Co-op’s Food for Paradise initiative.

5 Fresh Ways to Save at the Co-op

We’ve all been there: your bank account is looking thin after a month of celebrations, but you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to save up for a big purchase later in the year

Now’s the time to make some changes to your spending - but that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality goods at the Ashland Food Co-op.

These are some lesser known ways to save at the Co-op. Think of them like ordering off the secret menu. 

Savings Level: $

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.