How Weavers Way Can Be A Model for Sustainability

Alisa Shargorodsky, Weavers Way Zero Waste Consultant


We’re asking the National Cooperative Grocers to make this petition available to other food co-ops who would like to see natural foods shipper UNFI switch from disposable plastic pallet wrap to reusable wraps. Visit

and sign!

Weavers Way held its first Zero Waste General Membership Meeting a few years back. Since then, each GMM has been run in such a way as to limit the generation of solid waste. I have to say that at our most recent GMM, in April, I was hugely impressed at how well we did. The majority of Co-op members who attended did bring their own place settings, and the members who did not rented theirs from the Environment Committee. I perused the room at Summit Church afterwards, peeking into the waste bins, and they were all pretty much empty. Even in the food-prep process we didn’t really generate much waste. We completely transformed our footprint collectively. 

I wanted to thank each of you for participating and doing your part to make this a continuous success. It does illustrate something about intentional behavior. It shows that when we are mindful, our impact on the planet changes. There is more on the horizon. 

As I mentioned in the last article, we are forming a Plastic Reduction Task Force. The goal of the task force is to identify where we can alter the Co-op’s processes internally to result in less waste being generated in the community. Shopping in bulk is just one way; we’d like to get more people doing so and doing it enough that it reduces the amount of single-use plastic bags consumed. There is also talk of adopting deposit systems throughout the Co-op. We hope to generate several surveys that target segments of the member body based on their shopping habits. 

Here’s an example. Last year we sold 37,000 units of Vintage seltzer water in plastic liter bottles. There is a possibility that Weavers Way could make our own filtered seltzer water but bottle it in glass and charge a deposit for the bottles, as we do with some of our milk. We will be surveying our top seltzer-water purchasers to see if they are interested in participating in this program. Our hope is that we will receive a positive response and this will fuel our agenda. The task force will then work diligently to get that program up and running. 

We also hope to incorporate a deposit system for prepared foods that we now sell in small single-use plastic containers. If you happen to receive an email, it’s because we have identified you as a regular purchaser of these products and care about your feedback, so please take a moment to respond. 

These efforts may seem small against the backdrop of what happens in the United States each day, let alone around the world, but let me explain how these changes are astronomical in model development. If we are able to indicate that embedding these types of programs successfully within the marketplace can have a positive impact on source reduction as a whole, it will set the stage for other small markets to make these changes too. This will make our community a prime example of how consciousness shapes the environment and protects natural resources. It’s really a big deal. I want to thank each of you who think and care about these issues, and it’s so exciting for us to be at the vanguard of such positive change. 

Lastly, please consider signing our UNFI pallet wrap petition if you have not yet. We will be outside the Mt. Airy store for several days collecting signatures. If you see us out there, please come by and sign. Or visit:

Thank you in advance.