How to stay sustainable with paper products

Have you thought about how sustainable your paper home products are? While the use of single-use plastics has (rightfully) been criticized, some products are made to be single-use - like toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins. With these products, it’s best to examine sustainability by looking at what goes into their production.

While recycled paper is still a worthy alternative to ‘fresh’ paper - reducing or repurposing waste is always a good thing - it’s not guilt-free. Because recycled paper can contain receipts, tickets, food wrappers, and similar materials, BPA plastics show up in many of these products.

Of course, the Co-op works hard to get the most sustainable products on the shelves so you don’t have to spend hours researching. The two most sustainable ‘paper’ materials for hygiene products are bamboo and sugarcane.

Bamboo is grown around the world; kids can usually identify it because of its association with pandas. (Don’t worry - industrial bamboo is a different species that is not taking away a panda’s next meal!) What makes bamboo so sustainable? First, rate of growth: bamboo can grow between a foot and 3.5 feet a day! That’s partly because bamboo is actually a grass, not a tree. Compare that to an oak tree that grows 12” annually. On a large scale, an Agriculture Department study found that bamboo produced 14 tons of fiber an acre, compared to 8 tons for loblolly pine.

Bamboo-derived toilet paper

Additionally, bamboo is known for producing more oxygen than most trees, and sequestering more carbon - so it can be argued that bamboo products are doing more for the environment than traditional lumber/paper sources.

The Co-op carries Bim Bam Boo bamboo toilet paper, and NatureZway’s bamboo paper towels and toilet paper.


Bamboo-derived toilet paper

Sugarcane is quickly becoming a sustainable alternative to traditional lumber, as well. Like bamboo, it’s a grass, not a tree, so it grows rapidly and re-grows within 3-4 months after harvest.

While not as visually recognizable as bamboo, most of us are familiar with sugarcane’s typical usage: to create sugar. But after that sugarcane juice is squeezed out, very high quality fiber is left behind - usually destined for the landfill or burning. But instead, this fiber is being repurposed for processing into paper products. How’s that for Zero Waste?


Ultra Green sugarcane napkins

Most of the sugarcane paper products carried by the Co-op are mixes with bamboo, like Ecos toilet paper and paper towels. You can also find Ultra Green napkins, made entirely of sugarcane fiber.

More Co-op News

Get to know Ashland Emergency Food Bank

The sixth cooperative principle, "Concern for Community," has become even more important since the pandemic began and economies, locally and globally, started to constrict. To address this, the Board of Directors agreed in April to release 100% of patronage dividends and designate Ashland Emergency Food Bank as a donation option for those dividends - resulting in over $20,000 in donations. And with the early launch of Change for Good register round-up, AEFB was a natural choice to receive round-up donations. 

2020 Co-op Election Results

2020 Co-op Election Results

Ashland Food Co-op owners voted for three open seats on the Board of Directors, and for ten non-profit organizations for the Change for Good register round-up program.

Click a name below to read more about that Co-op Board member.

Co-op Owners Step-Up to Support the Ashland Emergency Food Bank!

AFC and AEFB Press Release - Local Strength!

Release Date: 5-26-2020

In April, the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors announced to the community that the Co-op would be returning 100% of the 2019 Patronage Dividend to its owners. The 100% Patronage Dividend return to Co-op owners converted to over $628,000.

The Co-op Board felt in this time of great need it was not the right time for the Co-op to put away funds for the future, but rather to support owners fully so they may have more strength to weather these stormy times.

Free Monday Night Lectures - virtual and recorded

Thanks to the many agile and adaptable experts in the Rogue Valley, the much-loved Free Monday Night Lectures live on - even if everything is moving online.

While we miss seeing community members with a joy of learning showing up at the Co-op Classroom, we hope these recordings teach and inspire you. 


Open letter from AFC Board on Coronavirus Policies

The Ashland Food Co-op has played a critical role supporting our community for nearly 50 years by providing healthy food and a safe place to shop. With the recent COVID-19 shutdown, this support has been even more important and has stretched our organization in ways that we could not have anticipated. We have endeavored to address the needs of both our staff and our customers, hopefully in the most cooperative manner.

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

The Ashland Food Co-op acknowledges and shares our community’s concerns about protecting against the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The safety and health of staff and customers is a top priority for the Co-op. We are taking proactive steps throughout our store to maintain a clean atmosphere to work and shop.

We have consolidated store changes below.

Owner Voting on 2020 Co-op Board & more

As an owner of the Ashland Food Co-op, you are an important decision-maker in the leadership of the Co-op! A vital part of your ownership is voting for the Board of Directors.

On the ballot: Vote for Board Candidates and Change for Good Organizations

Vote for Board Candidates
This year, four candidates are nominated for three Board positions: each elected Board director will serve a three-year term. The candidates are Ed Claassen, Mark Gibbs, Carolina Livi and Julie O'Dywer.

A dozen local favorites to explore this summer

The Co-op has always had a focus on supporting the strong local scene of growers and producers - and in these times, it's even more important. Here is just a small selection of some of our favorites from the area.  Help support local businesses next time you stop by the Co-op by picking one of these products.

Unwavering Spirit in a Time of Change

By Emile Amarotico, General Manager

It’s been two months since my last update on our Co-op community, but it could just as well have been two years ago, or from an alternate reality! Needless to say, life at the Co-op has changed, and it hasn’t been easy for employees or shoppers. But despite the challenges, it has been an inspiring and reaffirming time that reminds us why we love the cooperative enterprise.

Staying Sustainable in A Changing World

By Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator

In the midst of a health crisis, how can we focus on sustainability? Let’s be real - these are tough times!

What does sustainability look like now? I like to refer to the definition of sustainability - meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. How can we meet the needs of the present, while keeping the future in mind?