Open Line: September 12-16, 2011- Pre-Cycle to save the environment

by Christine Wied

It has been estimated that every day Americans waste enough food to fill up the 90,000-seat Rose Bowl Stadium. Only about 3% of food scraps are composted. The rest ends up in landfills where it may rot and produce potentially harmful methane gas.

In addition to what we throw away at home, grocery stores that are carrying more and more prepared foods and wider varieties of foods due to customer demand, often must dispose of perfectly good food items due to health and safety regulations and potential liability issues at the end of each day or marked expiration date. In most stores, the rotisserie chickens and baked goods that are made in-house are only kept for one day and thrown away that night if not sold. Some items can be donated to food banks but those are usually non-perishable foods.  Packaging can contribute to the waste not just in the materials themselves but because the amount in the package may be more than is needed or can be used.

One store soon to open in Austin, Texas in.gradients is trying to take a different approach by eliminating packaging altogether. They call it “pre-cycling.” Customers are asked to bring clean containers from home. The containers are weighed and labeled. The customers fill their containers with just the needed amount then take the containers to the counter to pay (tare weight deducted).

Here in Ventura, we have the Re-Fill Store on Main Street where you can purchase cleaners, soaps, shampoo and other personal care items put into your own reusable, refillable containers. Because we are using our earth’s resources far faster than they can be replenished and depleting some resources altogether, more stores such as these may be our future to help us live more sustainably and economically.

Contact: Christine Wied,

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