With the end of Plastic Free July, we wanted to give a quick recap of how it impacted the Davis Food Co-op
As you can see in the charts below:
- We reduced the number of plastic products carried at the Co-op by 2.2% in the month of July, compared to the month of June.
- Plastic product sales decreased by 2.1% for the month of July, compared to the month of June.
- For our Fiscal Year of 2023, we have reduced the number of plastic products carried by 0.6% compared to FY 2022.
- For our Fiscal Year of 2022, plastic product sales have decreased by 12.5% compared to FY 2022.
For the month of July, we offered 2X rewards for Owners who purchased items from the Bulk Department.
Owners increased their bulk purchases for the month of July by 106.44%, compared to 2022.
Research shows that 88% of participants made one or more changes that have become new habits and a way of life.
The Davis Food Co-op encourages customers to go beyond the month of July and continue their plastic-free journey.
By consistently making seemingly small changes, we accumulate significant impacts over time.
In conversations about environmental sustainability, it’s common for plastic to play the part as a universal villain.
Indeed, the harmful environmental impacts of plastic pollution are well-documented and significant. And while we spend the month of July recognizing Plastic Free July with calls to reduce our reliance on plastic, it’s critical to remember that the ability to completely avoid plastic consumption is a privilege that not everyone shares.
Plastic pollution not only disproportionately affects marginalized communities, it also greatly affects their ability to reduce plastic use due to socioeconomic circumstances. Undeniably, plastic has been so deeply woven into the fabric of our societies because it’s cheap, durable, and convenient. Because of this, communities in economically distressed regions often depend on plastic for its accessibility and affordability. To expect these communities to prioritize plastic reduction over immediate economic concerns is not only unfair, but also unfeasible.
This begs us to question – Who truly has the ability to avoid plastic use? The answer shouldn’t be surprising. Those who are best suited to afford to live a plastic-free lifestyle typically enjoy a certain level of economic stability and live in environments where plastic-free alternatives are readily available. They have the privilege to make this choice – a choice that is not universally accessible.
This is not a justification for complacency. Rather, it is a call to broaden our understanding and work towards true inclusive sustainability. Just as with our discussions on climate change and its disproportionate effects on marginalized groups, the dialogue on plastic consumption should also include its social and economic dimensions.
The discourse around plastic use reduction must include plastic-free options that are affordable and accessible to all communities. Green initiatives need to extend their reach beyond the privileged and include those on the front lines of plastic consumption. And most importantly, we should never shame people who make the decision to purchase plastic products. While we may be in a position to avoid plastic consumption, it is unfair to assume that everyone has that same luxury.
Inclusion is a key to a truly sustainable future. This blog serves as an invitation for us to widen our lens and recognize the privilege inherent in our consumption choices. It calls upon us to be advocates for change not just in our actions, but in our understanding of sustainability and the challenges faced by others in achieving it. The pursuit of sustainability should not be a luxury, but a necessity, and it must be done so through a process that holds those in power accountable so that it can be a pursuit that includes us all.
There are many excellent organizations that work at the intersection of environmental justice and social equity. Here are a few that you can learn more about:
Green For All is an organization that fights for a world that is green for all, not green for some. They work at the intersection of the environmental, economic, and racial justice movements to advance solutions to poverty and pollution.
The Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Program, one of the oldest environmental organizations in the U.S., has a program specifically dedicated to promoting environmental justice and reducing health disparities by engaging leaders in communities that are most affected by pollution.
WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that People of Color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders aims to serve as a resource to increase the capacity of philanthropy to support just and sustainable food and agriculture systems. They offer various resources and avenues for involvement.
Indigenous Environmental Network was established by grassroots Indigenous peoples to address environmental and economic justice issues, and to empower Indigenous communities towards sustainable livelihoods and preserving their cultures.
We believe that taking care of yourself and the planet can go hand in hand. Below are five easy, zero waste self-care recipes that can be easily added to your daily routine.
• 4 tbsp organic cocoa butter
• 2 tbsp pure refined organic shea butter
• 1 and a half tsp safflower oil
• 1 ½ tbsp tapioca starch
• 5-15 drops of essential oil(s) of your choice
1. Melt the cocoa butter and shea butter on low heat.
2. Then, add the safflower oil and the tapioca starch, and mix well.
3. Once the mixture cools down, add your preferred essential oil. (To cool it down faster, you can transfer it to another container or add it to the fridge for 5 minutes)
4. Next, pour the mixture into a silicone mold, or if you don’t have it, you can use metal tins.**
5. Put in the freezer for an hour and a half (or a bit longer, if you put it in the fridge), and then take out of the silicone mold/tins.
• ** Make sure to line the tins with paper, so you can easily take the lotion bars out, once they get solid.
• It’s best to store it in a tin, in the fridge.
• This recipe makes 2 medium bars or 3 smaller. Adjust recipe as needed.
Caffeine Eye Serum
• 1/4 cup ground organic coffee
• 1/3 cup sweet almond oil
• 2 Tbsp castor oil
• dropper bottle
• cheesecloth or nut milk bag
1. Combine the sweet almond oil and the coffee in a glass jar.
2. Cover with a lid and let sit on the counter for a week to infuse.
3. Using your cheesecloth or nut milk bag (that’s what I used), strain the infused oil into a bowl, you might have some small coffee residue that gets through and that’s just fine.
4. Add the castor oil to the bowl and stir to combine.
5. Use a funnel to pour the oil into your dropper or roller ball bottle.
If you use a roller ball, store it in the fridge so the roller ball gets cold and then use it as needed for puffiness — the cold ball will increase effects! Perfect to use first thing in the morning!
Rose Water Toner
• Organic rose petals (4 stems total)
• 1.5 liters of distilled water
1. Remove petals from stems and run them under lukewarm water to remove any leftover residue.
2. Add petals to a large pot and top with enough distilled water to just cover (no more or you’ll dilute your rosewater).
3. Over medium-low heat, bring the water to a simmer and cover.
4. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes or until petals have lost their color.
5. Strain the mixture into a large bowl to separate the petals from the water.
6. Discard petals and pour water in a clean glass jar to store.
7. Add rose water to a spray bottle and spray mist directly onto face throughout the day or use a reusable cotton round to remove dirt and other residue.
• 2 Tbsp Fractionated Coconut Oil
• 1 Tsp Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap – Unscented Baby
• Few Drops of Vitamin E Oil (optional)
• 1/3 Cup Distilled Water
• Reusable Cotton Rounds
• Small Glass Jar (I like a wide-mouth pint-sized mason jar!)
Add ingredients in glass jar and Shake.
Boom, done! Shake jar right before each use.
• Some folks find that coconut oil can clog their pores, so feel free to swap that out with jojoba oil.
• I prefer to use rose scented Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. Rose is gentle and hydrating for the skin and it smells delicious!
• Keep your reusable cotton rounds in the container so they are ready to go or simply dunk one when you are ready to use the cleanser.
• You can also add a few of your favorite essential oil drops. Lavender, rose, jasmine, and/or chamomile are great for sensitive skin.
• 2 1/2 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
• 2 1/2 tbsp unrefined shea butter
• 1/4 cup arrowroot starch/flour
• 1 1/2 tbsp baking soda
• 10 drops lavender essential oil
• 2 drop tea tree essential oil (optional)*
1. Place coconut oil and shea butter in a glass bowl or jar and place the bowl/jar inside a medium sauce pan.
2. Add water to the saucepan (enough to surround bowl/jar but not to overflow it) and bring to a boil.
3. As water is heating up, stir coconut oil and shea butter and continue to do so until it melts.
4. Once melted, add in arrowroot starch, baking soda and essential oils.
5. Place in a small glass jar (or pour into empty deodorant stick(s)) and allow to cool at room temp or in fridge until it’s reached a solid state.
6. Cover with lid until use.
7. Spoon out a pea-sized amount with a wooden scoop or with fingers and rub between fingers before applying directly to underarms.
If this is your first time around using natural deodorant, your armpits may require an adjustment period while making the switch. Start by using this DIY Natural Deodorant 1-2 days a week and slowly increase.
Find all of these ingredients at the Davis Food Co-op!
With the end of Plastic Free July, we wanted to give a quick recap of how it impacted the Davis Food Co-op
As you can see in the charts below, at the Co-op:
- We reduced the number of plastic products carried at the Co-op by 1.3% in the month of July, compared to the month of June.
- Plastic product sales decreased by 6.3% for the month of July, compared to the month of June.
- For our Fiscal Year of 2022, we have reduced the number of plastic products carried by 12% compared to FY 2021.
- For our Fiscal Year of 2022, plastic product sales have decreased by 3.3% compared to FY 2021.
While Plastic Free July is over, for many, the journey of reducing plastic waste is just beginning. Research shows that 87% of participants made one or more changes that have become new habits and a way of life.
The Davis Food Co-op encourages you to try something new and stick to it beyond Plastic Free July. With some minor lifestyle changes, we can make a bigger collective difference than we think.
Resources to continue plastic-reducing habits:
If you have any suggestions or feedback on how we can reduce our plastic consumption at the Co-op, please fill out a Suggestion Form.
What is Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. The movement has inspired 100+ million participants in 190 countries and our involvement in Plastic Free July is to help provide resources and ideas to help you reduce single-use plastic waste everyday in any way that you can. You making a small change will collectively make a massive difference to our communities and planet. You can start by choosing to refuse single-use plastics in July (and beyond!) when and where you can. Best of all, being part of Plastic Free July will help you to find great alternatives that can become new habits forever.
It is not lost on us that promoting Plastic Free July at the Co-op while we still carry so many plastic products could seem contradictory. Cutting out plastic entirely in today’s day and age is difficult for anyone, especially a grocery store. However, we believe in the change that can be made from people banding together. After all, we are a cooperatively owned business and that is the whole point of our foundation. The products that we carry are dependent on what our Owners and community shoppers choose to purchase and that is how we will always guide our decision making. With a focus on sustainability in our Ends, we will also always look for plastic free alternatives first in our purchases for the store. So while we may not be able to go fully plastic free, we vow to do all that we can this month to do so, and that is our pledge.
Use the information in this blog to remove the plastic from your personal care routine! You can find these products in our Wellness Department as of the time this blog was written. You can also opt to save some money and make your own plastic-free personal care products*! All of the recipes feature ingredients available from our Bulk Department or ingredients packaged in glass.
Hand soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, laundry detergent, dishwasher concentrate, shower gel, and Dr. Bronner’s all-one soap are also available in bulk from the Wellness Department. Bring your own jars from home to fill up! You can also reuse old plastic lotion and shampoo bottles.
At the Co-op: Araceli Farms Lavender Scrub
This local scrub is made with Dead Sea salt, sugar, shea butter, coconut oil, and essential oils. The glass and metal packaging is reusable (great for shopping bulk!) and recyclable. Araceli farms is woman- and Latinx-owned.
DIY: Lavender Scrub
- 1 cup organic granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp softened coconut oil
- 5-10 drops lavender essential oil
- Optional: ½ tsp dried lavender flowers
Place sugar in a small container with a good-fitting lid. Add the coconut oil 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring in between. The consistency should be similar to wet sand, so if you achieve that before 3 tablespoons are added, stop there.
Use scrub after showering or soaking in the tub to remove dead skin. Pat skin dry and gently rub in scrub in a circular motion all over your body. Rinse well. Store in a glass container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Booda Butter Naked Coconut Cream Deodorant
This is a fragrance-free deodorant made with baking soda, coconut oil, shea butter, tapioca flour, and cocoa butter. It is handmade with organic ingredients. Some folks with sensitive skin can experience irritation from baking soda. If this is you, you can try our baking soda-free DIY version below!
DIY: Tea Tree Oil Deodorant
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup arrowroot powder
- 10-20 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10-20 drops lavender essential oil
Soften coconut oil with low heat. In the summer, ambient room temperatures are usually high enough for coconut oil to be soft. In a small bowl or glass jar, mix together coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and essential oils. Apply to dry underarms as needed. Store in a glass container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Auromere Ayurvedic Mint Toothpaste
This toothpaste uses a blend of ayurvedic herbs like neem, licorice, peppermint, and spearmint. Fine clay acts as a gentle cleanser in this toothpaste. It’s formula is also highly concentrated so each jar lasts longer than conventional toothpaste because you use less each time you brush.
Bonus! You can also find plastic free floss (Senza Bamboo 100% Plastic Free Silk Floss, MamaP Vegan Dental Floss) and toothbrush (Green Panda Bamboo Toothbrush) options in the Wellness Department.
DIY: Minty Toothpaste
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 4 tbsp baking soda
- 10 drops spearmint essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
Soften, but do not melt, coconut oil with low heat. In the summer, ambient room temperatures are usually high enough for coconut oil to be soft. Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly until completely combined and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a glass jar with a good-fitting lid. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Booda Organics Suds of Love All-in-One Soap Bar
This soap bar works as a body wash, shave cream, and shampoo! It’s made with olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and sodium hydroxide and is formulated to soothe dry, itchy skin and scalp.
You can find dozens of plastic free bar soap options at the Co-op! Many come from local vendors as well.
DIY: Honey Citrus Body Wash
- ⅔ cup liquid castile soap such as Dr. Bronner’s
- ¼ cup raw liquid honey
- 3 teaspoons sweet almond oil
- 30 drops sweet orange essential oil*
- 20 drops lemon essential oil
Combine ingredients in an old body wash bottle or glass jar. Mix or shake to combine. Gently shake before each use. This recipe has a shelf life of up to one year!
*Sweet orange and lemon essential oils are energizing. For a calming blend try lavender and chamomile.
At the Co-op: HiBar Solid Shampoos, Camamu Shampoo Bars, Moon Valley Herbal Shampoo Bars, Acure Shampoo Bar
With such a variety to choose from, look for a shampoo that best suits your needs.
DIY: Basic Shampoo
- ¼ cup distilled water
- ¼ cup liquid castile soap such as Dr. Bronner’s
- ½ tsp sweet almond or grapeseed oil
- Optional: 20-30 drops essential oils*
*Some winning combos include eucalyptus and tea tree, peppermint and tea tree, & sweet almond and lemon, but you can go with your favorite!
Combine ingredients in an old shampoo bottle or glass jar. Mix or shake to combine. Gently shake before each use. Use within 1 month.
DIY: Dry Shampoo
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- For red hair: 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- For brown hair: 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- For black hair: 2 tbsp activated charcoal powder (this is not available plastic free at the Co-op)
- For blonde, silver, or white hair: 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- Optional: 6 drops essential oil of choice
Combine ingredients in a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Apply to roots in between washes. Use a makeup brush or your fingers. Work through strands with a comb. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: HiBar Solid Conditioners
HiBar Solid Conditioners come in three formulations: moisturize, volumize, and maintain. These bars are safe for treated or colored hair and are free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and silicone.
DIY: Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioning Rinse
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 16 oz water
- 16 oz spray bottle
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and gently shake. To use: spray shampooed hair with conditioner until hair is thoroughly saturated. If you have long hair you can pour about ¼ cup directly onto strands, avoiding your scalp. Rinsing is optional. If your hair is dry, rinse out and apply coconut oil to ends every 7-10 days.
*It’s always a good idea to test a small amount of any new product on your forearm to see how your skin reacts. Rub a small amount of product on skin and wait a few hours before using more.
It’s Plastic Free July and we’re taking the opportunity to talk about environmental racism and the disproportionate effects of plastic pollution on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. While environmental racism refers to the disproportionate effects of environmental hazards on people of color in general, this blog will focus on plastic consumption and pollution in relation to communities of color in the United States.
Greenaction, a grassroots environmental justice organization, defines environmental racism as, “the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race.” Environmental racism is caused by intentional neglect, a lack of institutional power, and low land values among low income communities of color.
As we discussed in our blog about the intersection of environmental, social, and economic sustainability, individuals and communities with privilege and power cannot afford to ignore social and economic sustainability in favor of environmental stewardship. It is through environmental, social, and economic justice that our communities will become safe and promote the wellbeing of everyone and especially Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women, folks with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ people, poor people, incarcerated populations, migrant workers, and individuals experiencing homelessness.
Every part of a plastic’s journey from production to consumption to disposal negatively impacts communities of color. Plastics start underground, approximately 1-2 miles below the surface, as fossil fuels like natural gas and oil. In order to get natural gas to the surface, companies drill into the ground and inject a mix of water and chemicals into the rock. This forces the natural gas upward in a process known as fracking.
Fracking sites pose a serious health risk to neighboring communities. In addition to drilling through or near groundwater reserves and improper wastewater disposal, fracking releases dangerous chemicals into the air. A 2016 study from the American Journal of Public Health found a correlation between the proximity of fracking wastewater disposal sites and the proportion of people of color living in that area of Texas. A study from 2018 found that Pennsylvania power plants (coal, oil, and natural gas) are disproportionately located near marginalized communities with lower incomes, lower education levels, higher economic stress, and/or more people of color. In Pennsylvania, the asthma hospitalization rate for Black children is 5 times higher than white children. Latinx children were hospitalized at rates 3 times higher than white children. In fact, Black people across the country are exposed to more air pollution than white folks. According to research from 2019, Black people bear a “pollution burden” of 56% (excess exposure compared to consumption).
Formosa Plastics is currently lobbying to build a refining center on the banks of the Mississippi in St. James Parish in Louisiana where 87% of residents are Black. You can donate to RISE St. James to help the community protect itself.
Oil and natural gas pipelines similarly impact BIPOC communities. Indigenous activists are calling for an end to pipeline projects which threaten water safety and sovereignty. Pipelines can leak slowly over time or rupture, polluting land, air, and water with highly volatile compounds. While the number of these kinds of incidents has decreased since 1996, the number of major incidents has increased. Major incidents involve serious injury, death, fires, and explosions. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and childhood leukemia are serious health concerns for communities near pipelines. You can read more about pipelines here.
Once raw materials are turned into plastics, they are aggressively marketed to low income communities of color and sold at disproportionately low prices. This is possible because plastic refining corporations receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies (in fact, plastic production is subsidized every step of the way). Low prices keep demand for plastics high. Non-BIPOC consumption of plastic harms communities of color as well. In addition to endangering communities living near production facilities, buying plastics gives more political power to the fossil fuel industries and does nothing to combat how the industry treats its BIPOC workers or communities that host production facilities.
An April 2021 survey of energy sector employees from across the country found that Latinx and Black folks are underrepresented in the fossil fuels and that 8 out of 10 white employees surveyed described themselves as supervisors or having leadership roles. White energy sector workers also reported higher overall career satisfaction than any other racial or ethnic group. Black employees noted prejudice and racial bias as the biggest challenge in the workplace.
BIPOC communities are also chosen as landfill and incineration sites for plastic disposal, both of which endanger the health of those living nearby. According to Denise Patel, U.S. Program Director at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, 79% of municipal solid waste incinerator facilities are located near BIPOC communities. These sites release heavy metals like lead and mercury directly into the air. Water contaminated by landfills leaches into groundwater and runoff can harm local waterways, water sources, and recreation spaces. The Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown, AL accepts waste from 33 states including toxic coal ash. The neighboring town is 90% Black and residents have reported increases in cancer, respiratory diseases, and mental health issues. Residents filed a Title VI Civil Rights complaint with the EPA, which was dismissed in 2018. State courts, federal agencies, and the company that owns the landfill have repeatedly failed the residents of Uniontown, whose median household income is about $15,000.
When asked how we can improve our waste management systems to mitigate the disproportionate burden BIPOC communities bear, Denise Patel answered, “From a solutions perspective, I think there is an incredible opportunity to allow EJ (environmental justice) and BIPOC communities to lead and inform policy.” Supporting the work of environmental justice organizations with monetary donations is one way to ensure BIPOC voices are leading this conversation. You can also use less plastic! Small changes make a big difference. Thanks to our community’s participation in Plastic Free July, the Co-op sold 7,000 more plastic-free products in July 2020 than July 2019. Here are tips about going plastic free on a budget, plastic free recipes, and tips on shopping plastic free at the Co-op.
Find the full list of organization you can donate to here.
Good news: Plastic Free July isn’t about being perfect, it’s about trying your best to make small changes that will benefit all of us! Whether you’ve decided to go plastic free for the rest of the month, or just for tomorrow, take the Plastic Free July pledge and join millions of people trying their best too.
Between social media and targeted ads it can feel like going plastic free requires purchasing a bunch of fancy glass jars and reusable silicone kitchen gear. Good news again: this is definitely not the case! This blog will spell out how to go plastic free on a budget.
Many companies are making the switch to sustainable packaging, including using glass or compostable material. While this is important and necessary, these items can come at a higher price. Avoid packaging altogether and shop the Bulk Department! Because these items come free from packaging (and for a few other reasons), bulk food is cheaper than packaged food. You can find our current Bulk Department offerings here.
Use Glass Jars (but not new ones!)
You definitely do not need to go spend $100 on brand new mason jars. If you look in your fridge, you probably have glass jars of all shapes and sizes (I’m looking at you, jar full of olives from 5 months ago). These just need a quick rinse before they’re ready to use. Soak in hot water with soap and distilled vinegar for 5-20 minutes to get any labels and residual adhesive off. And then they’re ready to use! Glass jars are great for stocking up on bulk items, taking leftovers to work, taking leftovers home from restaurants, and using at cafes.
You can also buy glass jars secondhand, sometimes for cents! Head to your favorite thrift store to see what’s in stock and feel free to experiment with sizes and shapes. A huge mason jar for $.50 is totally worth it if you buy 4 pounds of lentils at a time.
Use Cutlery You Already Have
Those travel cutlery kits are cute, but not necessary if you have forks, spoons, and knives at home already! Wrapping them in a cloth napkin or kitchen towel from home means you have something to store them in after you’ve used them. You can even make your own kitchen towels, napkins, and rags from material you already have.
Put Your Plastic To Use
A plastic zip-top bag can be used multiple times before heading to the landfill. If you already have single-use plastic bags at home, it’s silly to toss them before using. Zip-top bags can be rinsed, washed, and dried by hand many times before they no longer function (e.g. they’ve torn). Use these to shop the bulk department or as food storage at home before buying something new.
DIY Cleaning Products
Along with the assumption that “going zero waste” is expensive, many folks think it’s more time consuming too. While this is somewhat true (e.g. you need to spend more time sorting your waste properly), you’re probably here because you care about the health of our community and planet and understand that we all need to create new habits to be more sustainable. DIYing can take more time, but in this case, you’ll also save some money! Read our Natural Home Cleaning blog with 15+ DIY cleaning recipes.
Buy Second Hand, Then New
A lot of this blog focuses on using what you already have, which is a good mindset to have when considering how you can reduce your waste. Always use what you have first. Whether it’s cheap, fast fashion, a case of plastic water bottles in the garage, or glass tomato sauce jars, use these items before buying something new. If you are looking to buy something, look for it second hand at the thrift store or online. When it is time to buy something new, invest in quality items that will last a long time and put people and planet before profit.