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.
Why The Zero Waste Community Needs More Inclusivity
By now, most of us have heard the term “zero waste”, which one of the simple ways to put it, means to send little to no items to landfill. Zero waste living is about consuming less, being more conscious about our purchasing habits, supporting eco-friendly companies, and overall reducing our environmental impact. We’ve seen the zero waste community grow immensely over the past decade, especially as the Climate Crisis continues to rise.
But the issue with this community, is the lack of inclusion for our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Big advocates tend to be White, seemingly middle-classed women. A typical day for them consists of them making their weekly batch of almond milk and placing it in their perfectly labeled jars, putting on their $350 dollar dress that was made completely out of plastic bottles, and the plastic free produce they just purchased from their local Farmer’s Market (which of course was only a five-minute bicycle ride from their house). For some, it comes off as an unattainable lifestyle if you are not White and not in the middle-upper class, but that simply is not true.
BIPOC communities have been living zero waste lifestyles for thousands of years. Most cultures live this way without even identifying themselves as “zero waste”, as it’s just something they have always done; repurposing empty containers to store leftovers, hand-me-down clothing, using every part of an animal they just harvested, etc. Thrifting was once only for low-income communities and was only for “poor people” because it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing or “cool”. Now that it has become trendy, everyone is doing it.
Zero waste community members have a responsibility to ensure their environmental sustainability is working towards:
- Ending Fossil Fuel extractions and Fossil-Fuel based products like plastic.
- Getting commitment from agencies and local governments to stop funding false or short-term solutions like waste-to-energy.
- Addressing Food Insecurity and Food Deserts in BIPOC communities.
- Addressing Environmental Racism.
- While Indigenous people comprise 5% of the world population, Indigenous People protect about 80% of the Earth’s Biodiversity in the Forests, Deserts, Grasslands, and Marine Environments in which they have lived for centuries.
- Studies have shown that White neighborhoods have at least 4 times as many grocery stores as predominately Black neighborhoods.
- 58 incinerators, or 79 percent of all MSW incinerators in the U.S. are located in BIPOC and low-income communities. Living near these sites increase the risk of health issues as they release heavy metals and mercury into the air.
These are just some of the many reasons why this community has to be more inclusive if it is to survive and achieve its end goal in protecting Mother Earth.
The movement needs to better reflect more diverse experiences to broaden its audience. BIPOC struggle to resonate with the zero-waste movement when they do not see their own personal environmentalism experiences in conversations. It must go beyond the conversations of what zero waste products you are purchasing and consuming.
To create a more inclusive Zero Waste community, we must follow/spotlight more BIPOC leaders, broaden the topics/issues within the Zero Waste Community, & have current advocates acknowledge how their portrayal of their lifestyle comes off as inaccessible to most people, especially within the BIPOC Community, and change the narrative of what it means to be Zero Waste.
More Resources available here:
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.
Co-op Owner and Shopper Tips for Plastic Free July!
The availability of bulk products at the Coop determines how well I am able to keep plastics to a minimum. Before the covid-19 restrictions, I brought jars, metal bowls with lids, and homemade fabric bags to get all of my herbs, spices, vinegar, beans, grains, oats, flours, nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, tofu, produce (including salad greens and mushrooms), dish soap, shampoo, and more. As I patiently await the return of these items, there are a number of things I can still do in my effort to keep my plastic consumption down.
Many people may think it is time-consuming and even daunting to say no to plastic, but its really just like any habit change – a little challenging at first, but quick and easy once you get some experience.
- Buy in glass: milk, ketchup, mustard, salsa, yogurt, olives, herbs, and spices, etc. This may mean branching out from favorite brands.
- Purchase nut/oat milks in cartons, not plastic or tetrapaks. The empty cartons can go in the city compost (remove plastic spout first), and are good containers for messy or smelly compost items, possibly stored in your freezer until garbage day.
- Make your own iced tea.
- If you drink seltzer water, consider investing in a Soda Stream.
- Make your own yogurt – easy and kind of magical
- Put those fruits and vegetables loose right in your cart. The clerks at the Coop are very respectful of your produce, and you’re going to wash it before eating anyway.
- If you must put produce in a bag (beans, mushrooms, etc.) use a paper or waxed bag. If the bag is not in good enough shape to reuse afterward, you can put it in your compost bin.
- Store leftovers in jars. A couple of corn cobs fit well in a half-gallon mason jar, which can be stored on its side in the refrigerator.
- Use bar soap, unwrapped, or wrapped in paper that you can recycle or compost.
- Consider toothpaste sold in aluminum tubes.
- Get dish and laundry detergents in cardboard boxes that can be recycled.
- To treat stains on clothing, consider a bar of Fels Naptha, or other stain treatment products available in bar form, packaged in paper.
- If you didn’t bring your shopping bags, put everything back in the cart and unload it into your trunk, where hopefully you have your bags and can use those, but if not, tough it out and deal with all of the items when you get home.
- If you order take-out food from a restaurant, tell them you do not want utensils, napkins, packets of soy sauce, etc.
- At the Farmer’s Market, bring your own bags and juggle the produce into it, you don’t need a plastic bag for that one minute from the scale into your bag. You can also bring your plastic clamshells to reuse.
- Do you really need a plastic liner in your trash can? If you’re composting the wet food waste, probably not. Use the inevitable pouches so many foods come in to throw the occasional gross stuff out.
(7/12/20: Unfortunately the Davis Food Co-op is not allowing outside containers such as jars right now because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This page will be updated once the situation has changed and outside containers are allowed in our store once more.)
There is a truth about going plastic-free that none can deny, which is that it takes a certain level of preparation. If you want to avoid reaching for plastic bags, cutlery, or straws out of convenience then you need to have brought your own sustainable version along with you or be willing to go without. And going without isn’t always an option.
But what one quickly realizes is that toting around their own sustainable silverware, to-go ware, and a stash of reusable bags takes up a fair bit of space. This is why it is important to find ways to optimize your strategy for going plastic-free to make it feel as easy for you as possible. That’s where glass jars come in.
Many people find when going zero-waste that glass jars are the swiss army knives of storage whether it’s for dry goods in your pantry or taking your lunch on the go. If you take your coffee and lunch in a couple of jars you can rinse them out and hit the bulk section of the grocery store.
Perfect for taking coffee or lunch on the go
Of course, there are many amazing options for this purpose out there already. From stainless steel tiffins to stasher bags to candy-colored Klean Kanteens, we are certainly living in an age where eco-friendly to-go ware is abundant. So why choose to use a glass container? Because it is extremely cheap and can suit just about any purpose you can think of.
As was stated above a good rinse is all that is necessary to transition your jar from your lunch container to your coffee cup to your shopping vessel. This means that you have less specialized items that you need to buy to go plastic-free and you end up carrying around less stuff.
If you haven’t made a rainbow salad in a jar, pasta salad in a jar, overnight oats, or chia seed pudding before we couldn’t recommend it more. The end result is fewer dishes to wash and a photo-worthy meal.
Great for grocery shopping
A mason jar is typically the perfect companion to shopping in the Bulk section of the grocery store. While the Co-op is not currently allowing outside containers in the store yet, now is the perfect time to be comping up with new strategies for sustainability once the current crisis is over. Once we have made sure that the health of our community has been protected we need to make sure to safeguard the health of our planet as well. And shopping in the Bulk department isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for your wallet. By skipping the packaging you also avoid price markups and can buy the exact quantity of an item that you need without any going to waste.
When shopping in Bulk you’ll want to bring as many jars with you as you can carry. At the Davis Food Co-op, the Bulk section is full of amazing options for grains, beans, nuts, and even candy. You’re sure to find something you didn’t expect that you’ll want to try!
All you need to do to use your jars in Bulk is to write the tare weight, which can be determined with a scale located in Bulk, and the product PLU. There is masking tape for this purpose available in the Bulk Department. They’ll know what to do with all of the numbers at the checkout.
If you’re a pro at bringing your jar and know what your staple items are you can always put the tare and PLU on your jars with a label maker or write them on the lid with a sharpie to streamline the process.
Clear Kitchen Organization
If you use your mason jar to stock up on your favorite treats or staple pantry items at the store, unloading your items is a breeze. No need to open boxes and tear through layer after layer of plastic packaging, all you do once you get home is put your items away in your cupboards. But even if weren’t able to shop in bulk on your last trip to the store your glass jars can still come in handy in your pantry.
Decanting your grocery items into glass jars not only removes the visual clutter of all the packaging but also allows you to better visually assess what you have stocked. Most importantly though, decanting helps you extend the shelf-life of the products you have purchased.
Does this mean I need to go out and buy a bunch of mason jars?
Not at all! There are so many products that are packaging in glass jars you are likely to already be buying that it is likely unnecessary that you’d need to go out of your way to buy jars themselves. From tomato sauce to yogurt or even ice cream, there are many products that are sold in glass jars that would be convenient for you to wash and reuse. If you decide that you’re committed to the #jarlife then by all means buy some for yourself, just don’t forget that you can still find them in great condition secondhand! We also sell many different varieties of glass jars here at the Co-op to suit whatever needs you might have.
We hope that you found these tips helpful, and if you already are aware of the wonder of glass jars then please share this article with someone who needs some inspiration to reduce their plastic use! Share your jar meals and hacks with us on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #dfcplasticfree.
Written by Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist