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?

Here are some suggestions for staying sustainable in our changing world, based on two of the Co-op’s 2030 goals, Zero Waste and Sustainable Relations.

Staying Zero Waste

Eat Fridge First

The best way to save money and reduce food waste is to shop at your local refrigerator first. An easy practice that I like to use at home is organizing the shelves. Use clear containers to store food - seeing what is in front of you can make a difference. Move that fresh produce to the front to make sure it gets eaten first! Do a weekly fridge clean-up to see what’s hiding in the back. Use a whiteboard to write down meal plans, and keep a running shopping list.

Shopping Strategies

Going to the store for groceries is an essential need - be sure to come prepared. Choose one person to shop for the whole family if you can to reduce exposure. Make a clear list, thinking of what is needed for an entire week or more. You can also order from our Deli online.

Bring sanitizer, gloves, and a mask. Sadly, we can no longer bring reusable mugs, containers, or bags inside, so leave them at home. Be prepared to wait outside if the Co-op has enacted metered entry to ensure safe social distancing.

When leaving the store, sanitize your hands before touching your car door handles. Consider cleaning your steering wheel too.

If you are an at-risk community member, our store hours are reserved for you from 7 am - 8 am every morning.

If you need help with grocery shopping or can help others, check out the City of Ashland’s Adopt A Neighbor program.

Choose Local Products

Now is a wonderful time to support local farmers and producers. Look for local cheeses like feta or fromage blanc from By George. Try out Ton Ton’s hummus on local breads from Rise Up! or the Village Baker. For a tasty and nutritious crunchy snack, Kale Yeah! chips do not disappoint! Ask a Produce clerk about which vegetables are coming in from local farms. Stock up on immune support from Herb Pharm, and make sure to wash those hands with bars of soap from Sappo Hill. You can find local products marked with our green circular “Local” marker.

Don’t forget to order from small stores when possible - before buying a book online from Amazon, call up Bloomsbury books or Powell’s. Choosing small businesses can be a lifesaver for those employees!
What Local Means to the Co-op

Clean Out Your Container Collection

Do you have a shelf hidden in the kitchen where you put all those clean glass jars that you could use for storage? Guilty as charged! Jump into spring cleaning and clear out your containers. Take time to label bulk jars, check expiration dates in the pantry, and recycle what you don’t use.

Recycle It Right

Take a moment to read about what goes in your recycling cart through Recology. Remember that recycling should be clean, dry, and free of food residue. No egg cartons, lids, soft plastic, or items contaminated with food should go into a commingle cart.
For more information, visit Recology.
If you live outside of Ashland or Talent, contact Rogue Disposal.

What can be recycled

Start A Victory Garden

April is the best time to start a garden to grow your own food. Plant starts like kale, lettuce, beets, cilantro, sugar snap peas, carrots, and so much more are ready to go outside! You can find a variety of vegetable starts from local nurseries outside of the Co-op entrance.

Maintaining Sustainable Relationships

Stay Connected

There’s never been a better time to call up friends and family, whether they’re across town or a few states away. A one-on-one conversation can be the perfect remedy to feeling down or overwhelmed. Use online apps to have a video chat, or create a group text with friends. It can be heartwarming to see photos of pets, garden projects, or hear about a book someone is reading. Even sharing frustrations can be affirming - it’s helpful to know other people out there are also having rough days.

Say Hello To Your Neighbors (From A Distance!)

If you’re sheltering at home, most likely your neighbors are too! Welcome those serendipitous moments when checking the mailbox or walking the dog. Say hello and ask how they are doing. Check to see if your area has a Nextdoor neighborhood hub at

Take 10 And Meditate

The most important person to stay connected to is yourself! Give yourself the gift of time, and take ten minutes for a quiet moment. A meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing, or putting attention on your heart.

Focus On Gratitude

Find three things to be grateful for each day. Here’s one - I’m glad that I have toilet paper at my house! Gratitude doesn’t have to be extravagant, just noticed. Be mindful of blooming flowers, laughter, and sunshine. Let yourself enjoy a comedy special, take a nap, or blast some music for a dance break.

More Co-op News

Chatting about community giving with JPR's "Jefferson Exchange"

Recently, Julie O'Dwyer, Ashland Food Co-op board vice-president, joined a panel of guests on Jefferson Public Radio's "Jefferson Exchange" to discuss how the pandemic has led to an even greater need for community giving and support of local non-profits.

JPR logo

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.

Masks Required for All In-Store Shoppers

To protect the health of Co-op staff and shoppers, all shoppers and other visitors on Ashland Food Co-op property must wear face coverings over mouth and nose except when dining in an approved area.

Those who are unable or choose not to wear a mask are welcome to use our recently launched eGrocery online shopping and curbside pickup service as an alternative to shopping in-store.

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.

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.