BRING YOUR OWN GROCERY BAGS STARTING ON EARTH DAY!
April 22, 2023 will be a big day for Homestead Co-op, as we are taking the step to eliminate single use plastic bags from our Food Stores, Home Centres and Gas Bars. We began this journey back in 2020 when we started encouraging reuse by charging 5 cents per plastic grocery bag. We have seen a 26.8% reduction in plastic bags over those 3 years, diverting hundreds of thousands of bags from the landfill in that time.
Why are we doing this now?
At Co-op we’re committed to ensuring the sustainability of our communities for generations to come. We believe it’s critical to make decisions that are sustainable for ourselves and the communities we serve. The Canadian Federal Government has also mandated that plastic checkout bags may no longer be imported or manufactured in Canada for sale after December 20, 2022 and will no longer be available to be sold after December 20, 2023. We are simply taking steps ahead of these dates to make the necessary changes. With the plastic bag program coming to an end on April 22nd or Earth Day 2023 at all Homestead Co-op locations, we want to encourage and support our members and customers in remembering your reusable bags. Already available at many of our locations is a varied selection of reusable bags and containers. Watch for a promotion at our Food Stores, Gas Bars and Home Centres beginning on Earth Day to help support our customers and members in the transition away from plastic checkout bags.
Sustainability at Homestead
Here at Homestead, sustainability is important to us. In 2020, we also introduced our plastic bag reduction program at our Food Store locations in Carman, La Salle, Portage la Prairie and Treherne. This program was part of our commitment to sustainability by supporting our members, and communities in reducing single-use plastic bag waste. As part of the program, we donated 3₵ cents for each reusable bag used by our customers. With your help, we raised almost $12,000 for eight local community groups through our reusable bag program.
Over the last year, we have also sold over 1.6 million bags. That is a lot of non-biodegradable bags that ended up in landfill, on our streets and in our water systems. Removing single use plastics from our checkout stands was always the plan and we have sourced appropriate alternatives and developed processes to make the change at all four of our food stores. Alternate solutions for plastic usage at our Home Centres are also being looked at.
We encourage all our members and customers to remember their reusable bags from home! We have reusable totes and bag options for sale in-store, including a reusable cloth bag available at the tills in case you forget to bring reusable bags on a visit.
It’s time to start practicing bringing reusable bags from home when you shop at our Food Stores, Home Centres and Gas Bars leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd! Thank you for your continued support.
Q: Why not switch to paper bags as an eco-friendly alternative?
A: Paper bags are recyclable, but paper is very resource-heavy to produce. Manufacturing a paper bag takes about four times as much energy as it takes to produce a plastic bag, plus use harmful chemicals in production. Also, paper fibers become shorter and weaker each time the recycling process takes place, there is a limit to how many times paper can be recycled.
Studies have shown that, for a paper bag to neutralize its environmental impact compared to plastic, it would have to be used anywhere from three to 43 times. Since paper bags are the least durable of all the bagging options, it is unlikely that a person would get enough use out of any one bag to even-out the environmental impact. As the people at Green Action Centre say, it’s better to focus on reduction as opposed to “better” disposables.
Q: I use the grocery bags I get at your stores to dispose of my pet’s waste, and now I’ll have to buy more plastic bags, so what is the point?
A: Taking a single-use plastic bag and turning it into a "double"-use plastic bag is still not an ideal option because the bag still ends up in the landfill and it takes hundreds of years to decompose.
There are some creative solutions, such as repurposing frozen fruit or vegetable bags, cereal bags or bread bags. Corn-based compostable bags are also an option.
Q: Can we use reusable produce bags from home?
A: Yes. You can also find the Co-op brand for sale at our food stores.
Q: I see other single-use plastics and disposables at your food stores. What will you be doing next?
A: Federated Co-operatives Ltd. has signed on to the Canadian Plastics Pact (CPP) on behalf of the Co-operative Retailing System, which includes Homestead Co-op. By signing the Pact, the CRS is committing to four targets by 2025:
• Define problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and create a strategy to eliminate
• 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
• 50% of packaging is recycled or composted
• 30% recycled content across all packaging
While these targets may seem ambitious, we are not starting from scratch. In 2019, a cross-commodity working group was formed to source alternative packaging options for the CRS.