Reducing packaging waste is an enormous global challenge.
It is overwhelming and stressful to see photographs of giant islands of plastic packaging floating in the ocean while we continue to see more and more plastic packaging on store shelves.
According to Reuben Muni, from Greenpeace, “the global recycling system is broken and fixing it will require the cooperation of the wealthy countries that produce so much of the waste and the countries that import it.” How is the grocery industry responding to consumers’ requests to eliminate plastic on store shelves? The U.K. is further along than Canada or the United States. If the enormously powerful grocery industry in the United States would take a lead on addressing plastics in packaging we would begin to see large scale change in the supply chain and ultimately, what is offered on store shelves.
In the meantime, we all know that real change begins at home and the power of individuals coming together can generate strong waves of influence.
We asked Brianna Capra what her what advice is for someone looking to live a more regenerative life.
Brianna has been a Menomonie Market owner since she was born, and has been living a regenerative life as long as she can remember, here’s what she said.
What do you suggest for someone wanting to reduce their packaging and waste?
- #1 Reduce. Ask yourself if this is something you need. Treat yourself to new toys and treats occasionally, but they often come in frivolous, beautiful packaging. If you can, do without.
- #2 Make choices based on packaging. Go for the options that are packaging free or made of low-impact materials like paper, glass, bamboo or metal that can be recycled.
- #3 Buy from the bulk department. Bring your own container and only get what you need, which keeps things fresh! When you forget to bring a container, choose a paper bag over plastic.
- #4 Get down with DIY. Figure out what you can make yourself. Sauerkraut or bread? So easy! Corn chips? Not so much, thus the downfall of every well-meaning shopper.
What systems do you use when shopping to maintain a low-impact life?
I shop for items that use little or no packaging like produce and bulk items. I choose milk in a reusable bottle and shampoo in a recyclable bottle. I look for things that are already recycled like Preserve toothbrushes. I
also make my own almond or cashew milk, it’s super easy! If something comes in a package that is going to be trash, I typically skip it. Except corn chips, I need those.
How have you integrated reusable products in your life outside of grocery shopping?
- Hah! Where do I start? My husband and I built our house out of mostly salvaged or resale materials. Some of our appliances were salvaged too. Our clothes, dishes, art supplies, and furniture are either hand made, secondhand, or purchased with intention. We separate our waste items into these categories:
- • Things to feed the chickens
- • Compost
- • Recycling
- • Burnable paper
- • Un-recyclable & un-reusable
I choose to live this way; I could buy new stuff if I wanted too, but I don’t need to.
How is MMFC Responding to concerns about plastic?
On April 1, 2019 we will no longer bag your groceries in plastic, unless requested. Our default will be our recyclable paper bag or an empty box. Better yet, bring your own reusable bag and and secure a contribution to one of the non-profit organizations featured in our Hill O’Beans program (see page 9).
We will continue to support the National Cooperative Grocers (NCG) excellent advocacy work in environmental sustainability. See www.strongertogether.coop/advocacy.
A new staff work team is forming at MMFC to focus on auditing internal practices and identifying incremental improvements in our systems and sourcing.