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

Looking for a green smoothie boost on these hot summer days? After the success of the City of Ashland’s “Straws on Demand” pilot project, the Co-op will no longer offer single-use plastic straws. We provide paper straws upon request and stainless steel straws (which can be purchased for 75 cents at the Deli Counter).


Dine In and Save

Stopping in for a bite to eat at our Deli? You can save 15 cents when you use our in-house durable plates and bowls,or bring in a reusable container for drinks. Don’t forget your stainless steel straw! We also offer reusable sporks for $4.99.

Reusable Produce Bags - Coming soon!

Reduce your use of plastic produce bags and invest in our new reusable produce bags. Find them in the Produce Department mid to late September. These new bags are made from recycled plastic and can be washed by hand. They are large and strong enough to hold your kale, lettuce, or bunch of carrots. Other options include using recyclable paper bags, or washing and reusing plastic bags from home.


Clamshell Recycling

Additionally, we offer plastic clamshell recycling - with some important conditions. The Co-op will only take clean #1 PETE plastic clamshells for recycling that have been originally purchased at the store. One of our produce suppliers brings these recyclable plastics to International Paper for processing. Bring in your clean clamshells to a member of the produce department today!

Glass Containers

For bulk products, you can find clean, reusable glass containers by the hand washing sink, next to bulk liquids. You can also bring in your own clean containers for stocking up. Be sure to measure the tare weight of your container first - we have scales throughout the bulk section. Feel free to ask a co-op employee to help you find the glass containers or measure the tare of your container.

Plastic Wrap

What about plastic wrap? According to a webinar from the Climate Collaborative on bio-packaging and plastics, in the overall life cycle of a product, packaging is one of the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Proper packaging can prevent product loss in transport and food waste at home, which has a greater impact on reducing these emissions. Currently, we are researching options for sustainable packaging that also reduces our use of plastic wrap. Maybe one day you’ll be able to bite into a seaweed-based edible sandwich wrap!

At the Co-op, our first goal for sustainability is to become zero-waste. We are committed to reducing our plastic use to the best of our ability by researching new options and providing the best choices to our owners. The road to zero-waste takes collaboration with producers, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers. We hope that these options provide ways for all of us to make easier choices that leave a positive impact on our local and global community.

More Co-op News

Farm Tour on the Shelves

The Farm Tour shines a spotlight on Southern Oregon - it represents the full range of products grown in the Rogue Valley. The Farm Tour isn't until July 14, but here's a list of tour activities for participating farms that are also on the shelves at the Ashland Food Co-op. Get an early taste of quality local goods!

Planning for Summer... and Smoke

By Emile Amarotico, General Manager

If we are lucky, we’ll only have another seven week smoke intrusion this summer. If we are not, we could be the next Paradise. In less than 13 hours, last November’s Camp Fire wiped out nearly 19,000 structures and more than 80 lives. With community help, we were able to raise over $14,000 to support Chico Natural Foods Co-op’s efforts to feed some of the nearly 20,000 displaced Paradise residents.

The Co-op's "Secret Garden"

Did you know the Co-op employees have a small garden on our campus? Planning and management falls on our fantastic Co-op volunteer: Henry Herting.

Below, Henry shares some background on the garden, what it’s used for, and some additional tales from over the years.

Originally, the need for a kitchen garden arose from having a kitchen classroom in which culinary classes were being held. Visiting chefs have always been invited to use the garden for any ingredients they may have forgotten or items they could use as garnish for their dishes.


Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen

By Mahlea Rasmussen, Education Coordinator

Outside of work I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I find it a soothing space to create nourishing meals and lasting memories. I find it essential to be as eco-friendly as possible and a few changes can transform your kitchen into a sustainable center of your home.

Earth Day Bulk Sale! April 17-21

Save money while working towards a more sustainable shopping experience! The Co-op bulk department is a great "first stop" for your grocery lists - everything from hummus mix to local honey to pet food is available. Plus there's less waste, all the way from shipping to ended up in your shopping cart. 

Check out a quick tour below:

Film festival giveaway

Enter your name and email below to be entered to win two film vouchers for the 2019 Ashland Independent Film Festival.

No purchase necessary. Giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by AIFF. US residents only. Entry will be closed at 5pm PT on Monday, April 15.

The state of plastics

Many Co-op owners and shoppers have shared their interest in reducing plastic usage in the store. From bioplastics, to compostable plastics to recycling options, the Ashland Food Co-op continues to research what works best as we move towards our goal of being a zero waste store. Here is where we stand.

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.