Reducing Waste at Eat Local Grey Bruce
Sustainability is one of our core co-operative values at Eat Local Grey Bruce. One of the ways we put this value into action is through our waste reduction initiatives – we care greatly about our environmental footprint and invest notable effort into reducing our overall waste.
Did you know that despite the size of our operation, we generally only have one bag of garbage per week? We do generate a couple of bins worth of recycling per week, mostly paper, and continue to work on bringing this amount down as well.
We are most proud of how we’ve managed to offset food waste. We often say that ELGB is as much about building relationships as it is about moving food, and our food waste reduction efforts put this philosophy into action.
We partnered earlier this year to become the home of the Meaford Community Fridge. This program is an initiative of the Community Garden Network of The Sustainability Project, and makes use of a fridge donated by the United Way of Bruce Grey (artwork by Billy Goodkat). Food for the fridge is provided by a combination of community food and garden programs, local gardeners, and ELGB. Members of the community are welcome to come and drop off goods, or take what they need, no questions asked. The fridge is replenished on a weekly basis, with goods that will not last into the following week dropped off at OSHaRE, a community meal program based in Owen Sound, along with any items at ELGB that are nearing expiry or are still fresh but will not remain saleable the following week.
Some of our produce that is past its prime and not ideal for meal programs gets used as animal feed. We do generally have a small amount of composting on a weekly basis – usually part of a standard Meaford green bin’s worth. We continue to aim to catch these items prior to them reaching this state and emphasize offloading as much as possible to be used in the previously mentioned initiatives.
The pandemic saw us have to shelve our beloved green bags in favour of paper bags for a time. A phased approach to return to more sustainable order packaging options is on the horizon! We are finally ready to call our green bags home – it has been fun seeing the many ways they’ve been in use out in the community over the past couple of years, however we know that several of you have been patiently waiting to return these bags – the time has come! Please feel free to leave them out for your next expected delivery, leave them at the drop spot location you make use of, drop them by our warehouse in Meaford, or get in touch to make arrangements.
We hope to make use of our classic green bags as freezer bags by later this year. Their insulative properties certainly make them more suitable for this purpose than paper bags, and we’re sure that folks won’t mind accessing their goods via zipper as opposed to wrestling with staples.
We will be continuing to use paper bags for all other goods for the time being. We were able to source new delivery bins using funds from the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund. While we currently only use these bins to hold paper bags of orders in our van, we hope to pilot use of our bins at select drop spots at a future time (orders will be packed in bins, and folks can bring their own bags to transport goods home, leaving the bins at the drop spot). Use of bins for home deliveries will be reserved for a later time, once we have the capital funds required to purchase more bins and a suitable tracking system, and the resources lined up to roll the system out. Our upcoming Community Bonds Campaign aims to raise capital for these and other important initiatives!
Bulk Dry Goods
After quite a wait (including a fortuitous delay due to contractor availability that meant we didn’t invest in upgrades in our old warehouse prior to our having to relocate) we are finally getting ready to launch our improved dry goods packaging! Under this new system, plastic clamshells will have gone the way of the dinosaur, with reusable mason jars and paper bags taking their place. Stay tuned for announcements in the coming weeks – we anticipate launch of the program later this fall.
As a non-profit co-operative, we are happy to engage membership participation and are happy for volunteers. If you would be interested in joining our Waste Reduction Committee, or helping with these initiatives at the warehouse level, please send a note to Jeannine, our Executive Director.