The United Nations estimates that our oceans contain more than 8 million tons of plastic! As it breaks down into smaller pieces, it’s mistaken for food by fish and wildlife and causes further harm to the environment. There’s no denying that plastic is a real problem.

Companies have introduced compostable “plastic alternatives” that offer the same single-use convenience but break down in compost facilities. These options often cost twice as much for businesses and still require natural resources to produce, and many cities don’t have compost facilities that take them — so they’re more of a band-aid than a real solution.

Solving the problem starts with choosing reusable items, changing our habits, and changing our lifestyles. Here are some items that make it possible to live without single-use plastics:

To Go Ware – Bamboo Utensil Sets and Snack Stacks
Comes with a convenient carrying case that will fit into your purse, backpack, laptop bag, or car — keep it with you and you’ll never need a plastic fork again! Stainless steel Snack Stacks are perfect for packing lunches or snacks to go, and come in two sizes.

Chico Bags – Shopping Bags
These bags are an excellent alternative to single-use plastic. They’re machine washable and designed to be reused again and again! Look for the classic grocery bag or the cross-body tote in a rainbow of colors.

Stasher – Reusable Storage Bags
Made from silicone, these plastic-free, airtight, dishwasher-safe, non-toxic food storage bags can be frozen, baked, even boiled!

Bee’s Wrap – Reusable Food Wrap
Made in Vermont with beeswax, organic cloth, tree resin, and organic jojoba oil — a beautiful alternative to plastic wrap. They seal over bowls, around a block of cheese, half a lemon, or wherever you’d use typically use plastic wrap. They’re easily washable and reusable and can be composted when they wear out.

Lifefactory – Glass Bottles
This glass bottle with a durable protective silicone sleeve is dishwasher safe and BPA free — a long-lasting alternative to the single-use plastic bottle.

Klean Kanteen – Insulated Containers
These insulated, durable containers are formulated for human and environmental health, designed to last many years, and eliminate the need for single-use coffee cups with plastic lids.

EcoJarz – Stainless Steel Straw Sets with Linen Bag
These are strong, durable, reusable, and easy to clean with the provided brush. They’re even made by a local company. They work with all EcoJarz lids too!

Down to Earth– Plastic Bag Dryer
Perfect for all of those reuable bags and wraps! Made in Canada of birch wood, this dryer lasts for years (ask us how we know), it collapses for easy storage and can sit on the counter or be hung over a sink.

At your Co-op, a major focus of our current and future operations is to minimize the use of plastic. Steps we’ve taken to reduce the use of single-use plastic include: making paper bags available in the fresh produce section and selling reusable produce bags; offering reusable mugs in our café; encouraging customers to bring their own container when shopping bulk or the deli; providing dish-ware and washable or wooden cutlery for use at the hot bar and salad bar; and eliminating the use of plastic shopping bags and incentivizing the use of reusable bags with our Bring Your Own Bag, Use it For Good program.

We recognize there is much more work to be done regarding sustainable practices. This is an ongoing process and we continue to work with our packaging and product suppliers to source innovative solutions that are sustainable and retain freshness. We’re also a member of National Co-op Grocers (NCG), which is looking at this issue on a national level through its Better Packaging Solutions Committee. We care about our impact on the planet and we will continue to work toward greener, more sustainable future.