The Nutrition and Education Committee’s Monthly 3-Question Survey

Photo by Alejandro Adam. From, posted on August 22, 2016

May’s Survey Topic: Bulk Department Labeling, Pamphlets, and Powders & Mixes

Please click here to go to our survey!

The Nutrition and Education Committee (NEC) posts a new survey in the Co-op Voice each month. We are looking for more of your input to help make your Co-op everything you want it to be.

In this month’s survey, we are focusing once again on the Bulk Department. We would love to see our customers utilize the products there, to the greatest extent possible. Bulk Products are not only healthier and less expensive than most packaged and processed products, they also create less waste. Reducing waste is one of the main principles our Co-op is founded upon, and we are doing everything we can to help ensure its success.

During the course of several of our recent surveys, many participants noted that they would like to have access to more information about the products in our Bulk Department. The Bulk Manager, Tom Gillespie, came to our latest NEC meeting and he is full of good ideas on how to do this. One of the first things he asked us to do was to help him collect information about some of the Products in the Bulk Department that are located under the Powders and Mixes sign on the back wall and on the end cap at the back of the Spice Aisle. There are lots of interesting products back there, from Sea Vegetables to Mushrooms to Nutraceuticals and more… We want to know if you use them, how familiar you are with them, and what information you feel is most important to have on the label or in an informational pamphlet nearby. Please take our survey to weigh in and let us know what your thoughts are.

March’s Survey Results

The first question in March’s survey asked if our respondents would be likely to use the clean used containers that the Bulk Department is now offering freely for re-use. Located on the shelf below the Bulk Oils, they are washed, sanitized, and pre-weighed by the staff there. This was a service provided by the Bulk Department in the past, to help reduce waste. Every time we fill a reusable container, we prevent one more plastic bag from getting buried in a landfill, floating in the ocean, or killing a beautiful creature. Many of our respondents were glad that this practice was reinstated, and most said yes, they would gladly use those containers. Please click here to see the full results of the survey.

A few of our respondents had concerns about the cleanliness of a re-used container, and that’s understandable. But, just as the Bulk Department washes and sanitizes the bins, jars, scoops, and funnels that all of our bulk products come into contact with, all used containers available in Bulk are washed and sanitized too.

One respondent asked about the used containers from the Bulk Department, “Will we be able to bring them back to be recycled over and over again?” Absolutely. You can either add any containers you acquire from Bulk to your own collection of containers to be re-used again and again (when you start your next Co-op shopping trip, just bring your clean containers to the service desk so they can weigh them before you re-use them), or you can return your clean, empty container to the Bulk Department Staff, so it can be sanitized and made available for someone else to use.

The second question in March’s survey asked about signage to educate and remind customers to use their own bags or containers in our Bulk and Produce Departments, and the best locations for those signs. The majority of respondents felt that signs in the Produce and Bulk Departments near the bagging stations, describing the complete process for using your own containers, would be the best choice. More than half of respondents felt that a sign inside the store near the entrance, directing you to the service desk to get your containers weighed, would be helpful. Almost half of respondents felt that signs in the Produce and Bulk Departments stating the benefits of using your own packaging and reducing your environmental impact and a sign out in front of the store reminding you to bring your containers in with you would also be helpful.

Since we started these surveys, we have received so many comments about the signage in the café by the waste receptacles that we had to include it in a survey.  So, the third question in our March survey asked about improving signage in the café, to help us all understand how to dispose of our waste properly there. Most respondents felt that signs with a comprehensive list and pictures describing how to dispose of waste items would be the best way to communicate to our customers how to use the waste receptacles in the café. We are proud to report that improved signage has recently been posted in the café next to each receptacle with both text and pictures. We hope the new signage is helpful.  Happy waste sorting and composting!

Thank you so much for your participation!

Please come back next month.