(This is an edited version of a letter sent to the managers of the major grocery stores on the Sunshine Coast.)
We, the undersigned, are members of Roberts Creek Cohousing, which consists of 31 households of Sunshine Coast consumers and shoppers. Some of us buy our groceries principally at regular supermarkets, some mainly at health food and organic stores. But we all applaud steps taken towards less plastic and less waste: e.g., kudos to IGA for discontinuing the routine use of plastic grocery bags at the till.
We acknowledge there are barriers to making major changes. But we believe the barriers must be overcome, and that this is an opportunity for Sunshine Coast grocers and consumers to become leaders in this important battle.
A few suggestions for changes, some easy, some more complex:
• Supply small paper bags instead of plastic for dry bulk foods.
• Offer more paper bags for produce.
• For bulk fresh produce, provide free or low-cost non-plastic string bags.
• For packaged fresh produce, find suppliers who package in non-plastic net bags
• Have a scale for customers to weigh and label their own empty containers, for use in an expanded bulk food section.
• Or stock (for purchase) re-usable containers that are permanently labelled with their empty weight.
We’d love to see your stores eventually include more “zero waste” systems: liquids (dish detergent, hand soap, vegetable oil) available for bulk refillable containers. Those of us who shop at supermarkets would like to see “standard” products (not only natural or organic) sold this way.
The other aspect of grocery shopping on the Coast where we’d love to see change is in the shocking amount of fresh food that’s discarded. We strongly support any initiatives to reduce this waste: separate, lower-priced bins for produce that would otherwise be dumped; donation of such produce to food banks or charities or even livestock producers (for animal feed). Fortis BC’s bio-gas program is another possible destination for food that would otherwise be dumped.
We believe it is time for positive action, and grocery shopping is one routine activity where every individual and every store can make a difference.
Jane Mossop (and 34 other individuals), Roberts Creek