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.

The choices begin with shopping for your food. It is important to stay organized so you don’t end up over-shopping or purchasing items you already have. This can lead to food waste - the USDA found that Americans on average each waste a pound of food per day. To avoid this, create a list on a chalkboard or white board and take a photo, so you know just what to purchase.

Don’t shop when your hungry. Although all of us have been there and heard this before, we are much more likely to purchase unnecessary items when our tummies are doing the talking.

Leave your reusable tote bags in the car, so you don’t leave them at home. After unloading your goods, run out to the car one more time and throw your bags in the back seat. That way you won't be caught without them next time you hit the market. Some estimates put the average 'lifespan' of a plastic bag at just 12 minutes.

Shop in the bulk and produce departments to avoid packaging and bring your own containers. The beautiful thing about bulk is that it goes far beyond food items: shampoo, dishwashing detergent, pet food and more are available. Because you can bring your own containers to fill, you're skipping the single-use packaging that many products on the shelf come in. 

When shopping for produce, I choose a bag made from recycled plastic bottles available for $0.50 in our produce department. For dry goods, a muslin cloth bag is also available for the same price. For flours and liquids, I bring my own glass jars and bottles.

Shopping for herbs and spices with your own containers is especially advantages as you can save as much as 95% on the goods you buy. Remember: every time you purchase an item in a container, part of the cost is paying for the container itself.

At home some other ways to make your kitchen more sustainable is by growing your own herbs and making your own products. This doesn’t have to be overly time consuming. Herbs, rosemary, oregano and thyme are easy to grow and require minimal time.

Having a stock container in your freezer can significantly reduce your waste and save you money. Most vegetable scraps can be used such as carrot ends, celery and onion. After boiling the stock vegetables you can compost them as long as there is no meat product or oil used.

Replace soft drinks with infused water you make at home. Fill a pitcher with refreshing citrus, mint or cucumber. Not only is this good for your budget, but it's good for your waistline by reducing unnecessary sugar intake.

Another item found commonly in kitchens and easily eliminated is paper towels: it’s easy to sub in some worn out, clean t-shirts and cloth napkins.

And finally, when you're serving dinner, create smaller plates. Those who are hungry can always go back for more, but you will end up throwing out less uneaten food.

The benefits of a zero waste kitchen go beyond the trash compactor. You will find yourself saving money and eating clean. “The zero waste lifestyle is not about complicating your life; it’s about simplifying.” - Bea Johnson.

More Co-op News

Compostable Bags

The Co-op has been asked if compostable plastic bags are a viable alternative to the standard plastic bags offered in the produce and meat departments. 

For several reasons, compostable bags are not in line with the Co-op’s goals and standards. 

Not compostable at home

Sustainability Update: Energy efficiency and zero waste

Energy Efficiency
We are happy to announce that we are a member of the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management program. This is a free program available to customers of Avista and Pacific Power, which offers awesome incentives including a paid internship!

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.

Board elections are open!

We are grateful for the engaged community that supports the Ashland Food Co-op. We're a grocery store owned by you (with a few thousand of your friends). But your ownership isn't just coupons and discount; you help shape the future of the Co-op through the election of the Board of Directors.

This year, seven candidates are nominated for four board positions: two will serve a three-year term; one will serve a two-year term; and one will serve a one-year term. Additionally, the current board has proposed three by-law changes for approval.

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.

 

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.