#PlasticFreeJuly: Plastic Utensils at Seward Co-op

ImageIn the spirit of #PlasticFreeJuly, Seward Community Co-op is taking steps to improve environmental impacts in our delis. Want to step up your sustainability habits? Please consider using your own utensils or dining in with our reusable dishes. Taking your meal to-go? Plastic utensils are available—if you need them—on the way out the door or by request at the Deli Counter.

Similar efforts have boosted conservation at the co-op. Since the introduction of the bag charge, we have used 24 percent fewer paper grocery bags year over year. That’s 139,400 fewer bags that left our stores June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018, compared to the previous year!

Why Not Compostable Utensils?

Seward Community Co-op staff puts a lot of thought into purchasing decisions. We rely on a set of priorities to determine the kind of utensil, container or wrapping to buy and consider an item’s functionality, cost, environmental impact and appearance to shoppers.

Reusable items are the most sustainable option, though we recognize our customers have diverse needs and often value convenience. Our second best option to help serve shoppers are recyclable materials. While the plastic utensils we offer are recyclable, we cannot ensure they are being recycled. According to the city of Minneapolis, plastic utensils don’t make it through city recycling facilities and end up as garbage.

Our third best option: compostable items. While composting is an important part of diverting waste from landfills, compostable products are used only once before being processed into soil. That’s a lot of energy and investment to manufacture and break down a single-use item. Compostable products also have limited uses and are often made of genetically modified corn.

More Ways to Conserve

The co-op provides many opportunities to improve your environmental impact while you shop. Consider bringing your own reusable shopping bags, dishes and containers. We offer an extensive bulk section, bulk wellness products, bulk kombucha on tap, unwrapped produce, a discount for using your own coffee mug and more. We also work with many farmers and producers who value environmental stewardship.

Please note that while the Minnesota Health Department does not permit Seward Co-op to allow folks to use their own reusable containers for the hot bar, salad bar and soup, people are welcome to make their food on the plate provided by the coop and then transfer it to their own container after paying.

Try #PlasticFreeJuly. Pledge to focus on reusable items or go completely plastic-free at plasticfreejuly.org.