Updated: Dec 5, 2021
Are you tired of buying food wrapped in plastic or in plastic containers? Are you exhausted by all of the latest scientific research describing how bad plastics are to our health and
environment but when you go grocery shopping all you see is PLASTIC?! Seriously, even sweet potatoes are wrapped in plastic! We wanted OPTIONS, so we've created a plastic free grocery store! Refill Exchange is your grocery alternative to big box stores that are just seas of plastic (literally, our seas are filling up with our grocery store plastic but that topic is for a future blog - stay tuned!).
Single-use plastics, specifically used for food packaging, have become one of the largest sources of pollution in the world. Our lands, beaches, and oceans are littered with plastic debris. Plastics do not biodegrade or decompose, they persist and continue to exist for decades, hundreds or even thousands of years, much longer than a human lifetime. Eventually, plastics break down into smaller and smaller pieces, becoming microplastics (i.e., less than 5 millimeters). Microplastics become so small, they are microscopic and cannot be seen by the human eye and can travel through air and water. Their small size allows them to be consumed by organisms as small as plankton in the ocean, and move up the food chain, eventually reaching humans. Additionally, plastic production involves the use of fossil fuels, as well as synthetic chemicals, resulting in chemical waste streams and greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change (another future blog topic...stay tuned!).
Californians recycle less than 15% of plastics, leaving over 85% to be landfilled, incinerated, or dumped in the ocean. According to CalRecycle, only plastics with the code #1 for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), used in water and soda bottles, and #2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE), used in milk jugs and shampoo bottles, are commonly recycled. The other plastic types #3-7 are generally not recycled.
Single-use plastics used for food packaging also contribute substantially to food waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 30% to 40% of all available food in the United Stated is wasted.
Locally, the County of San Diego wastes over 500,000 tons of food every year. Landfilling of organic waste such as food wastes, leads to the anaerobic breakdown of that material, creating methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that leads to global warming and is at least 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year lifetime. Methane is considered to be short-lived in the atmosphere, which means reducing emissions has great potential to fight climate change. To address this issue, San Diego County set a goal to reduce food wastes by 75% by 2025.
Refill Exchange is a zero waste grocery store with non-plastic and waste free options. At Refill Exchange customers will 1) REDUCE their single-use plastic waste by reusing containers AND 2) REDUCE their food wastes by purchasing only the amount of food needed, reducing their green house gas emissions and overall environmental impact.