Gina Molby, New Pi Cedar Rapids Center Store Supervisor
Earth Day is the perfect time to re-evaluate your environmental footprint and find new ways to reduce waste. It's mind-boggling to consider the environmental impacts of the items we use every single day. New Pi offers a plethora of options to help you be kinder to the planet by replacing disposables with long-lasting alternatives. By making these simple changes with Co-op products, you are making a commitment to fostering important changes that will benefit our planet.
What’s the problem with plastic?
• Producing plastic bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year.
• The energy we waste making 1.5 million tons of plastic for water bottles each year would be enough to power 190,000 homes.
• It takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
• Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic each year. We throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Only 8% gets recycled.
• Bottling water produces more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.
• Plastic bottles require up to 700 years to dissolve.
• There are over five trillion pieces of plastic, weighing more than 250,000 tons, floating in our oceans. That's more than 700 pieces of plastic per person on the planet.
One alternative is Klean Kanteen cups, tumblers, bottles, and canteens, which are durable enough to reuse for years and years. The lidded drink-ware is double-wall vacuum insulated to achieve top thermal performance, keeping drinks hot for up to 30 hours, and cold for up to 100 hours. Klean Kanteen’s chip-resistant surface comes in a variety of colors and finishes to match your personal style. Most importantly, switching to Klean Kanteen helps reduce plastic pollution, making the earth a cleaner place for all living things.
• On average, a school-age child bringing lunch from home generates 67 pounds of non-food waste per school year (that’s 40,000 pounds of food packaging waste per school).
• Americans throw away over 100 billion plastic bags every year.
• Packaging accounts for 32% of all household waste in the U.S.
• 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in the U.S.
• Plastic straws and utensils often cannot be broken down by recycling machinery due to their small size and shape. This means that more plastic ends up in our ecosystem, even when we recycle.
• Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day. Many of these straws end up in the ocean, polluting water and hurting or killing marine life.
• Studies predict that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, and 99% of sea birds will have ingested plastic.
• Every year, Americans use 120 billion disposable cups. If all those cups were placed end to end, they would circle the equator 333 times.
Stasher reusable silicone bags offer an alternative to plastic bags and containers that you can feel good about. Silicone is a non-toxic natural resource made from silica, which is found in sand and contains no fillers or byproducts. Resilient, non-porous, and sustainable, silicone can be thought of as soft, durable glass. Just as food (think pasta sauce) can seep into and stain porous plastic food containers, plastics can seep into your stored food. By switching to silicone, families can reduce their dependency on plastic containers, keeping their food safe and making the earth cleaner. Stasher bags are microwave-, oven-, and dishwasher-safe, and very fridge-friendly. (And there are no lids to lose!) They come in a variety of sizes, and use a pinch-seal design to provide airtight food protection.
For taking food on the go and storing leftovers, U-Konserve offers non-leaching, non-toxic, stainless steel containers, which are certified free of BPA, phthalates, and lead. These waste-free containers are ideal for kids and adults alike, offering divided compartments for portion-controlled meals away from home. Switching to reusable food storage options decreases your impact on the environment and reduces the devastating amount of trash that ends up in our landfills and oceans due to food packaging and storage. It also saves you money on unnecessary disposable packaging.
To-Go Ware reusable bamboo utensils are perfect for packed lunches, picnics, and travel use. Sustainable bamboo is convenient and easy to clean. Most importantly, replacing traditional straws and plastic cutlery helps to keep plastics and microplastics out of our ecosystem.
• In the U.S. alone, over 1 billion toothbrushes (that’s more than 50 million pounds of waste) end up in landfills every year.
• Traditional toothbrushes are made from a combination of plastic, rubber, and nylon, none of which are biodegradable. Thus, they remain in landfills and in the ocean, washed up on our beaches and even consumed by marine life.
Green Panda bamboo toothbrushes are made exclusively from sustainable, naturally renewable resources, making them 100% biodegradable and compostable. Their toothbrush bristles are naturally antimicrobial and verified BPA-free. Even the packaging is composed of purely plant-derived material. Green Panda considers their products “cradle to cradle,” meaning they come from the earth, and will return to the earth.
• On average, women use around 11,000 pads and tampons in a lifetime. In the U.S. alone, 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are thrown in landfills each year.
• The feminine hygiene product industry generates over 200,000 tons of waste per year, 90% of which is plastic.
• The majority of feminine hygiene products and their accompanying products such as applicators, packaging, liners, and fastening materials are not biodegradable.
• Most feminine hygiene products use non-organic cottons that have been saturated in pesticides and insecticides, and processed bleaches and other chemicals harmful chemicals such as dioxin and chlorine. These are then soaked up by the earth and released as pollution into underground water and air.
• While organic, chemical-free cotton is biodegradable, it is incredibly slow to break down.
• The majority of applicators are made of low-density polyethylene, which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade.
Diva Cup menstrual cups are eco-friendly, chemical-free, reusable, and cost-effective, meaning a healthier body and a healthier ecosystem. The Diva Cup can be worn for up to 12 hours, meaning a cleaner, more convenient menstrual cycle. Made of durable silicone, the Diva Cup can be used for a year or more when cared for properly, saving money normally spent on single-use sanitary products. In addition, the use of a silicone menstrual cup is said to reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome, a bacterial illness caused by over-wearing traditional absorptive products.
• While paper bags are significantly more environmentally friendly than plastic, constant disposal of paper still takes up space in landfills and uses resources to recycle including collection, transportation, and conversion.
• Only 10-15% of paper bags get recycled.
• Paper bag production takes a significant amount of energy use and carbon emission. Making 1,000 paper bags is equal to burning 15 gallons of gasoline, which takes 6 trees one full year each to counteract.
You’ll find multiple varieties of reusable bags at our registers and around our stores. Whether you want an insulated bag, a nylon pouch Chico bag to clip to backpack or stash in a purse, or a New Pi-branded bag to show the Co-op some love, you’ll be saving paper with every trip.
Forget your bags at home or in the car? Swing by our Bag Library to grab one of the cloth or paper bags donated for your convenience. Extra bags? Donate them here! Give a bag, take a bag, save a bag!
Shop our fabulous and economical bulk bins with reusable containers, reducing waste and eliminating the need for costly packaging. Buy one of our glass jars or bring in any container of your own from home and simply stop by a register before filling it up. We’ll weigh your receptacle, and then be sure that weight is subtracted when you check out. We proudly provide a huge variety of products in bulk, such as grains, flours, nuts, beans, granola, honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, kombucha, cold brew, coffee, and much more to fill your containers and your stomach.
Finally, you can rest easy knowing our New Pi’s deli provides you with compostable utensils, cups, to-go containers, and napkins. We believe in working to bring about the change we want to see in the world.
Sources: the-green-panda.com; ukonserve.com; plasticpollutioncoalition.org; zerowastehome.com; twistclean.com; nationalgeographic.org; pacinst.org; motherearthliving.com; ourlaststraw.org; simpleecology.com; forestecologynetwork.org