From the General Manager – July 8, 2020

Dear Co-op Shoppers,

reusable bags and bottles, composting food scraps

Happy July! I hope you and yours are well and enjoying this unique summer to the greatest extent possible. Here are a few notes about recent and upcoming Co-op matters:

With the partial return of many local restaurants, shoppers have been asking about the return of our café and food bar. At this point, we have no plans to reopen our café for the foreseeable future. With building occupancy limits in effect, we cannot accommodate additional people in the café for extended periods of time without further limiting other customers who need to shop for groceries. Additionally, we are relying on the café for storage and workspace, which we anticipate will be critical to operating through the busy holidays. As for our food bar, we plan to experiment with some prepackaged hot food options in the coming weeks. If customers are interested, we will try out additional options, but self-service is likely a ways off.

Thank you for using reusable shopping bags. We weren’t sure how customers would react to the new 10-cent fee for large paper carryout bags required by the State’s Single Use Item Law. Over the first week, the number of reusable bag credits has increased dramatically. This is win-win-win since it means less material in the waste and recycling streams, reduced operating expense for the Co-op, and more donations to the Montpelier Food Pantry. Last year we donated $10,753 through our Bag That Bag program. Every nickel counts, especially with increasing food insecurity.

The other new State requirement comes from Act 148 Vermont’s Universal Recycling & Composting Law. The law was actually passed in 2012, but the final provision that bans all food scraps from entering landfills went into effect July 1. There are many good reasons to compost, but for some of us, it means a significant change in habits. Here are options to consider:

  • If you have the space and the inclination, home composting can save time and money. Plus, you end up with the composted organic material (i.e., “black gold”) that benefits any home garden. Our friends at Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District have options and instructions for DIY composting including a schedule of free webinars.
  • If home composting is not for you, you can bring your food scraps to a drop-off location. We are fortunate to have several local businesses that accept scraps for free or for a small fee, and transfer stations are now required to accept them. You can find a local central Vermont drop-off point here and a Northeast Kingdom one here.
  • Curbside pick-up is the easiest but perhaps the least available option in rural Vermont. Within the CVSWMD, we currently have two options: Earthgirl Composting and Vermont Compost Company.
  • An innovative approach is community composting. Increasingly community groups are cooperating to set up larger composting programs. North Branch Nature Center for examples offers community composting for its members. Contact your solid waste management district for additional options.

Keep in mind that the best way to prevent food waste is by not creating it in the first place. According to the Chittenden Solid Waste District, the average American household wastes up to $1,500 on food we never eat. Strategic shopping and proper storage are your best bets for reducing the volume of uneaten food that needs to be composted.

Thank you for composting, and thank you for supporting the Co-op. Here’s wishing you a healthy and happy July.

Kari Bradley, General Manager