Plastic Free July 2023 Recap 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:

  • 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.

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Co-op Owner Waste Reduction Tips

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.

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Make and Maintain your Own Beeswax Wraps!

Beeswax wraps are a great way to eliminate or limit plastic use in the kitchen. They make great bowl covers and can even replace ziplock bags! We have some premade in our Kitchen section of the Co-op and at the end of this blog, you can learn how to refresh them and keep them usable!

Wash your wraps with cold water. Using soap and a sponge will cause them to deteriorate faster, so only use if necessary. Often times, rinsing your wrap is enough! Do not use hot water or a scrub brush, it will cause the wax to come off the cloth.

Materials:

  • Cotton fabric
  • Beeswax pellets or block
Use a cheese grater to turn a block into pellets

Three methods:

  1. Oven and Cookie sheet 
  2. Paintbrush and Pot or Crockpot
  3. Parchment Paper and Iron

Cut your fabric into various sizes; 6” X 6”, 8” X 8”, or any special sizes you may need, I have a special 12” X 16” wrap for my 9” X 13” pyrex dish.

Oven and Cookie Sheet method

  1. If you are using a block, use a cheese grater or knife to finely chop
  2. Preheat oven to 300F
  3. Place a wrap or two, however many will fit without touching on your sheet and sprinkle some of the beeswax pellets on top. (see photo)
  4. Place in the oven for 30-50 seconds, until the pellets have all melted then remove from the oven. 
  5. Do not let the wraps cool on the pan. Carefully pick them up by the corners and place on a cooling rack (cookie cooking rack or collapsable clothes rack workes well).
  6. Once cooled (which only takes about a minute!) inspect to see if you added enough wax. The wrap should be coated lightly on both sides, with no bare spots.
  7. I think it is helpful to crumple them in a ball a few times and flatten back out before first use. 
Sprinkle the cloth with pellets, the more your use the thicker the wax coating will be

Crumble in a ball after it has cooled the first time you use it.

Paint Brush and Pot method

Beeswax cools very quickly, this method does not work well in the winter! The wax cools too quickly on the brush. Do this method in a warm place.

  1. Place the pellets or block in a double boil pot set up or a crockpot. 
  2. Once melted, use a paintbrush to lightly coat both sides of the wrap. 
  3. Once cooled (which only takes about a minute!) inspect to see if you added enough wax. The wrap should be coated lightly on both sides, with no bare spots.
  4. I think it is helpful to crumple them in a ball a few times and flatten back out before first use. 

Parchment Paper and Iron method

  1. If you are using a block, use a cheese grater or knife to finely chop
  2. Place a piece of fabric on a piece of parchment paper, sprinkle some pellets on top and then top with another piece of parchment. 
  3. Iron on low for 15-20 seconds or until all the pellets have melted.
  4. Let them cool for a few seconds then place on a cooling rack (cookie cooking rack or collapsable clothes rack workes well).
  5. Once cooled (which only takes about a minute!) inspect to see if you added enough wax. The wrap should be coated lightly on both sides, with no bare spots.
  6. I think it is helpful to crumple them in a ball a few times and flatten back out before first use. 

How to Keep your (handmade or store-bought) wraps coated and sticky!

After a while, your wrap will gradually become less stick and have less beeswax coating. You can simply recoat it! The oven or parchment paper and iron methods work the best for re-coating!

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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Types of Green Washing and How to Avoid being Green-washed

Types of Green Washing

Green by Association

A company slathers itself in environmental terms and images so that the product seems to have environmental benefits. Products will use neutral colors or images of greenery, but in no way trying to improve their product.

Lack of Definition

A product advertises an environmental claim that sounds good but is too vague or general. Look out for terms like “green” “environmentally-friendly” “sustainable” without any explanation or certifications clearly displayed.

A common lack of definition you will see is the “Please recycle” symbol with no number associated. Shelf-stable liquid cartons, juices boxes, tetra packs, etc. are not recyclable in Davis. These packages are made of paper, plastic, and foil that need to be separated(using a lot of water!) in order to recycle. The materials in the cartons are also not likely to be used in the same process, instead, it is “down-cycled”. The plastic can be made into benches or rigid plastic plates that are not able to be recycled again.

Huggies: Pure & Natural

This line of Huggies is covered with green leaves and neutral tones. These diapers are made with organic cotton, aloe, and are hypoallergenic. However, there are still disposable diapers made with plastics in the fabric. These are landfill items and in no way benefit the environment or even coexist with it.

Tetra Pak Launches New Packaging Material Effects to Help Brands ...
Lack of Definition and Outright Lying: They claim to be recyclable but are only recyclable in a few counties in the entire USA
These fall under Lack of Definition and Green by Association

Unproven Claims

When environmental claims are made but the company will not or refuses to back them up.

Forgetting the Life cycle

Choosing one aspect of the product’s environmental life cycle/profile while ignoring significant effects that are not environmentally friendly. Reusable products are great, but if they are made out of silicone, they are not recyclable in Davis and are difficult to recycle if your county accepts them! Think of what will happen to your item once it tears or breaks? Can it be fixed? Can it be recycled or composted? If not, then it is not a truly sustainable product. The packaging is a big one for this type of greenwashing! Is your sustainable product packaged in filmy plastics? Does the company truly rally for environmental responsibility if their “sustainable” product is packaged in landfill materials?

Arrowhead Water

These disposable water bottles are made with smaller caps, which means less plastic. This is not lying but is not “being green”. This is still a disposable water bottle and this is not going to get recycled in most counties in the USA and all over the world.

Bait and switch

When a company heavily advertises environmentally friendly attributes of one of their products while bulk manufacturing other products that are harmful to the environment.  

Tom’s is owned by Colgate

Although Tom’s of Maine brand is very transparent about ingredients, many of their products are not commonly recyclable. They have a program through TerraCycle, where you can send in your old tube and deodorant sticks. However, there currently is no available space in their program to start your own collection and this program is a financial barrier for many since you are required to mail in a large box and pay the postage. Colgate has no information on their website about their environmental efforts and it is estimated that 400 million toothpaste tubes are discarded every year in the United States alone. That is a lot of unnecessary landfill.

Burt’s Bees and Green Works are owned by Clorox Bleach

Similar to Tom’s, Burt’s Bees packaging is recyclable through TerraCycle which may be a financial barrier for some. The environmental effects of bleach are controversial, better to be safe than sorry! Choose a product you know is safe for your health and the environment.

Green Works is a tough one! The product is safe and ingredients are transparent. There is information on the product on how to successfully recycle. However, at the end of the day purchasing this product supports Clorox Bleach and is therefore still green-washed.

Rallying Behind a Lower Standard

When a product earns a third-party certification that validates them but the trade association has influenced the development of the relevant standards or actively lobbies against them. Avoid the Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade USA certifications, unless paired with other certifications. These certifications have gaps in their requirements that allow only one step in the process to be fair.

Outright Lying

Companies will bend the truth to sound better. For example, referring to palm oil as vegetable oil to avoid the unsustainable relationship.

Unfortunately, less than seven percent of the total production of palm oil is certified as sustainable, as most companies refuse or are unable to pay the cost associated with less-destructive farming practices. When purchasing an item that contains palm oil or palm tree derived ingredients be sure it has the Palm Done Right certification.

Questions to ask yourself and tips before purchasing a product

  • Don’t just assume something is truly natural because there’s a pretty sticker on the front label that claims so.
  • Ask questions! Be skeptical! Who owns this company? Is it a big corporation? Where do they source their ingredients? Are the ingredients hard to find?
  • Get familiar with companies, labels, and ingredients that you trust.
  • Support smaller, independent, or local brands as much as possible.

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Shopping Plastic Free at the Co-op

We all know that we could do a little more for our planet every day.

One common way people choose to put the planet first is by avoiding the consumption of products that contain environmentally harmful plastics. However, cutting out plastic entirely in today’s day and age is difficult for anyone, especially a grocery store. While this may be the case, we do 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 to do so, and that is our pledge. 

 

What is Plastic Free July?

Permanently going Zero Waste can feel daunting for many of us, especially once you realize just how much waste each of us is generating every day. That’s why Plastic Free July is all about making small, sustainable changes to your daily routine. PFJ is a global movement each July that is meant to inspire people to do their part to reduce plastic waste. It encourages people to realize the role that they play in keeping their communities clean and the environment healthy. 

Instead of trying to make a permanent lifestyle change, you commit to avoiding single-use plastics just for the month as a first step. You don’t even need to quit using all plastic, committing to no longer using just plastic bags or straws is enough and maybe can even show you how easy it is to adjust to more sustainable habits. 

Learn more about PFJ to be part of the solution to plastic pollution here

Plastic Free Blogs

Plastic Free July 2023 Recap at the Davis Food Co-op

Plastic Free July 2023 Recap 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: 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....

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2022 Plastic Free July Recap at the Co-op

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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...

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We all know that we could do a little more for our planet every day. One common way people choose to put the planet first is by avoiding the consumption of products that contain environmentally harmful plastics. However, cutting out plastic entirely in today’s day and...

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Composting Guide

Compost can be used as a fertilizer for your plants and garden with no risk of burning like with synthetic fertilizers. It also contains many beneficial microorganisms that keep away plant disease.

There are two types of home composting, Hot Composting and Cold Composting. Cold composting takes very little effort but will take much more time to produce compost. Hot composting requires more effort but will produce compost much quicker. Here is guide for the two:

Cold Composting

What you will need:
  • A large bin or hole in your yard
  • Worms (if you are digging a hole in your yard you wont need to buy many)
  • Dried yard trimmings (leaves, small pieces of wood)
  • Paper or egg cartons (and egg shells!)
  • A little healthy nutrient dense soil
  • Food Waste (can be added as you produce)

Food Waste:

Stick to leafy greens and produce with low acidity:

  • Banana peels
  • Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach, etc
  • Carrots, beets, and other roots

Avoid high acidic produce:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks

Instructions:
  1. Prep your bin or dig your hole. 
  2. Add yard trimmings and paper to the bottom on the bin.
  3. Then add your nutrient dense soil and worms. 
  4. Add food scraps as you acquire them.
  5. Mix the compost pile whenever or never. 
  6. It will take 6 months to a year to get completed compost

Hot Composting

What you will need:
  • A large bin or hole in your yard
  • Worms
  • Dried yard trimmings (leaves, small pieces of wood)
  • Paper or egg cartons (and egg shells!)
  • A little healthy nutrient dense soil
  • Food Waste (can be added as you produce)
  • Water

Food Waste:

Stick to leafy greens and produce with low acidity:

  • Banana peels
  • Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach, etc
  • Carrots, beets, and other roots

Avoid high acidic produce:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks

Your pile should maintain 1 part food waste and 2 parts dried yard trimmings. A healthy pile will 141F to 155F. This temperature will kill all weed seeds and disease pathogens.

Instructions:
  1. Prep your bin or dig your hole. 
  2. Add yard trimmings and paper to the bottom on the bin.
  3. Then add your nutrient dense soil and worms. 
  4. Add food scraps as you acquire them.
  5. Mix the compost pile 2-4 times a week. Check the temperature during each mix.
  6. It should stay damp, add water if needed.  
  7. It will take at least a few weeks to make compost.
  8. Use it in your garden and mix it in with soil when repotting indoor plants!

Written By Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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Staff Fair Trade Picks

Throughout the month of May, we celebrate Fair Trade products and the partnerships that produce them. In-store we will have signage for our staff’s favorite Fair Trade Certified items, and we will update this list throughout May with any new favorites that we find!

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is both a philosophy and a business model. It keeps small farmers and artisans an active part of the marketplace by fairly compensating them for their work, and through various labeling systems allows consumers to shop in a way that aligns with their values.

It also:

Raises the incomes of small-scale farmers, farmworkers, and artisans

Equitably distributes the economic gains, opportunities, and risks associated with the production and sale of these goods

Supports democratically owned and controlled organizations

Promotes labor rights and the right of workers to organize

Promotes safe and sustainable farming methods and working conditions

“Matr Boomie makes such cute accessories that you can feel good about buying because you know that you are supporting a good cause. They pay the artisans that they work with very well and reinvest a portion of the profits back into their communities.”

Karla, Wellness and General Merchandise Manager

“I love the rich flavor of this tea, it has notes of bergamot just like a proper earl grey should!”

Derlina, Front-end Supervisor

“Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil is an amazing product because of how versatile it is! I use it in baking, to make my own toothpaste, and as a lotion during Spring and Summer to help keep mosquitoes away!⁠”

Madison, Education and Outreach Coordinator

“Divine uses only Fair Trade Certified chocolate from farms owned by their farmers, so you can feel good about indulging in these bars. The white chocolate strawberry and milk chocolate toffee are my favorites.”

Matt, Bulk Department

 

“Coffee is what keeps me going and I love that I can support the farmers that produce it by buying from conscious companies such as Equal Exchange and Pachamama.”

Rocio, Operations and Facilities Manager

“A high-quality olive oil is great for entertaining or using in special meals, I like this one for its flavors of almond and spices. La Riojana is an Argentinian farmer-owned co-op that is the biggest exporter of Fair Trade wine in the world.”

Roberto, Front-end Supervisor

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Staff Sustainability Picks

In celebration of Earth day we thought we would share some of our staff sustainability picks with you!

Ryan from our Deli department loves our selection of glass jars! They’re a great storage option that look pleasing in your pantry and help you buy in bulk. These jars in particular have a vacuum seal that keeps out bacteria.

Rheanna from our Produce team loves using beeswax wraps instead of traditional cling film. Beeswax wraps are washable and are a great way to keep foods fresh and covered. They’re also a great choice for carrying snacks! We carry a variety of wraps with eye catching prints in our store.

Madison from our Marketing team is a big fan of this Booda Butter deodorant that comes in a glass jar. This deodorant is made with pure, organic ingredients and the sustainable packaging that it comes in makes it a part of your self-care routine that you can feel great about!

Aster from our Deli team is a fan of the Stasher bags that we carry. These bags aren’t only great for storage but a perfect choice for marinades and sous vide cooking as well!

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