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

Bulk bins at Honest Weight Food Co-op
Our local food cooperative: Honest Weight Food Co-op

January’s Survey Topic: Bulk Department Packaging

Please click here to take this month’s survey.

Each month the Nutrition and Education Committee (NEC) posts a new survey in the Co-op Voice. This month we’re focusing on the Bulk Department. We asked the department manager, Tom Gillespie, if he had any burning questions for our readership this month and he had some really good ideas. As a matter of fact, next month we’ll be asking more of his questions. Please take a few minutes to participate in our survey and help guide the future of your Co-op.

Do you know that we have the biggest Bulk Department in the Northeast? One of the driving reasons behind its creation was to reduce packaging and waste. Our Bulk Department Staff is very dedicated to this cause and they would love to see less plastic headed for the landfills. Many of the plastic baggies that are supplied by the store get used once and wind up in the trash, thus defeating part of our purpose.

Of course, the premise of recycling plastic bags is nice but, unfortunately, less than one percent of all bags sent to recycling plants worldwide end up being recycled. Instead, most end up in a landfill or burned. Either alternative is an environmental disaster. Burning emits toxic gases that harm the atmosphere and increase the level of VOCs in the air, while landfills hold them indefinitely. The period of time that it takes for the average plastic bag to break down can be literally hundreds of years. An estimated 300 million plastic bags have ended up in the Atlantic Ocean alone, to date.

Plastic packaging in the ocean is incredibly dangerous for sea life. It has been estimated that each plastic bag has the potential to unintentionally kill one animal every three months, due to digestion or inhalation.

Do you know that every time you use store-supplied plastic baggies in the Bulk Department, it costs the Co-op anywhere from 2¢ -4¢? Yup! And the tiny brown paper bags are $.01. The Co-op passes the cost of plastic containers with lids and brown paper coffee bags on to the consumer at the register. But all those plastic baggies are instead absorbed as overhead costs paid by the Co-op—and those costs add up quickly (as if their impact on the environment weren’t awful enough!).

We want to know what you think the Honest Weight Food Co-op can do to encourage shoppers to use their own containers in the Bulk Department, instead of the single-use plastic baggies. This will not only reduce the environmental impact of all those plastic baggies, but will also improve your Co-op’s bottom line. Please click here to take our survey today!

November’s Responses

Thank you so much for your participation in all of our surveys! Please click here to see the full list of responses from November. The November survey was focused on Catering from the Prepared Foods Department. The manager of that department, Dan Hurlbut, was interested in finding out what kinds of cuisines our respondents would want to order from Catering Services at the Co-op, what events they would use our Catering Services for, and what reasons they would use another catering service over Honest Weight’s.

We got some great feedback! Thai, Greek, Comfort Foods, and Italian were the most popular cuisines, followed closely by Indian, Chinese, Eclectic, Savory, and Traditional.

We also received many written requests for items without added sugar, vegan, paleo, no nightshades, and Jewish cuisine. Many respondents said they would order catering for numerous events, but the most popular by far were Family Reunions, Birthday Parties, and Holiday Parties. The number one reason for respondents to go to a catering service other than Honest Weight’s was cost, and the second was selection.

Well, Dan has heard your requests. He “hopes to start working on a new and updated catering menu in the beginning of the year, and will definitely use the information that presented itself in the survey.” He also said that he “would love to bring value to the Co-op’s Catering Services wherever I can, to help with the cost.”

Thanks again for participating!