Friendly City Food Co-op pushes for plastic reducing methods amid recycling troubles


HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Recycling options have become a bit of a problem for many parts of the Valley.

Places like Bring Your Own and the Friendly City Food Co-op offer bulk sections where people can re-fill what they need.

Most recently, Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro announced they can no longer recycle plastic or glass. Starting on April 1, 2019, Rockingham County and Harrisonburg will only accept plastics with a number one or two on the bottom of a container.

Steve Cooke, the general manager at the Friendly City Food Co-op, said that the one and two are easiest to recycle and include items like water bottles and water jugs.

But due to these recycling problems, Cooke said it is important for people to get away from using plastics altogether and find alternative methods.

“There’s no away when it comes to plastics and things like that. We have to figure out other ways to either avoid plastics or reuse them in more creative ways,” said Cooke.

Stores like the Friendly City Food Co-op and Bring Your Own in the Agora Market in Harrisonburg offer bulk sections where people can use their own containers for items like grains and nuts and then re-use those containers.

The Co-op has things like honey, milk, and spices that can be purchased in a container you bring along, as well as a lot of other items.

Cooke said that an easy way to cut down on plastic is to just take produce as-is and not put it in the plastic bags offered by grocery stores. He said things like bananas, citrus fruit, apples and onions are already wrapped naturally and do not need plastic wasted on them.

“It’s just kind of raising conscientiousness about it, and it’s really up to consumers not just to do this for themselves at home, but to kind of stay on top of the manufacturers,” said Cooke.

He said sometimes people can reach out to manufacturers and ask if they have another option available if a product comes in packaging that is no longer recyclable in an area where you live.

There are also some companies that allow you to mail back recyclable items, which they will then handle.

Cooke suggested using reusable shopping bags or paper ones. The Friendly City Food Co-op offers both, and it even has a “lending bags” area where people can donate reusable ones and those who forget theirs can take a bag from the bin.

Both the Friendly City Food Co-op and Bring Your Own offer re-usable or biodegradable containers for purchase.

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