Plastics have become a hot topic. Unfortunately, in recent years, plastic recycling markets have become more limited in their options even with the growing awareness of plastics ending up in our oceans and impacting wildlife and the health of our planet. In fact, it was the picture of a turtle with a plastic straw in its nose that started the movement to get rid of plastic straws altogether. Personally, I see straws as the symbol of a much bigger problem of global plastic waste and single-use plastics.
At our co-op, we’ve been working hard to reduce plastic waste. For example, we don’t have plastic shopping bags readily available for customers to pack their groceries in like many other stores do. We’ve also partnered with Reverse Recycling to recycle all the waste plastic from the products we receive through our distributors. Our bulk and deli Grab & Go items are all packaged in plastics made from recycled plastics and of course, are recyclable themselves. We provide plastic bag and #3-7 recycling for our customers at the front of the store. And I’m really excited that we have an expanded recycling station for shoppers planned in the expansion.
Still, with all we have done, there’s a need to do more! I’m proud to share the latest news about our compostable roll bags which we are transitioning to in our produce, meat and bulk departments. These roll bags are what customers frequently use to package a head of lettuce or bunch of kale. Replacing these with biodegradable bags will significantly reduce plastic waste from our store. Additionally, we now use compostable straws in place of plastic at our beverage bar. And more and more compostable options are becoming available.
Historically, cost and commercial composting options have been significant barriers, but now with demand growing prices are going down. We even have a new commercial composting option available for residents right here in Keene. Elm City Compost can arrange to pick up at your house and will soon be offering a lower cost option with pick up directly from the co-op—more details on this to come!
We love when our customers bring their reusable bags, containers, mugs, and straws to the store—every bit helps! Don’t hesitate to ask a staff member if you have questions about our new compostable alternatives as they are a bit different from their plastic counterparts. We welcome your feedback about how we can continue to solve the issues with plastics in the coming year.