Sunday, May 08, 2016

Plastic as Food Poisoning

It’s very difficult to eat or drink these days without ingesting plastic, which comes into contact with nearly all commercially sold foods. Cardboard milk containers and cans of peas are coated with plastic; it is sprayed on produce to preserve freshness and used to irrigate, mulch, wrap and transport fruits and vegetables.

Since the 1950s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has known that plastic “migrates” into the food and drinks it comes in contact with. In fact, until 2002 “food grade” plastic was classified by the FDA as an “indirect food additive.” And since the 1990s, when scientists worldwide began monitoring urinary concentrations of environmental chemicals, it’s been known that virtually all of us have chemicals in our blood and tissue that migrated from plastic food wrap, bags, packaging and bottles. 

As was covered in a Gazette Coop Environmental Committee Report last year, these chemicals are known endocrine disrupters that are linked to health risks ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure to infertility and more.

As attorney Lisa Kaas Boyle put it:
Plastic is food poisoning. The chemicals you are eating and drinking [from plastic] are changing you on a cellular level, altering your chromosomes in ways that can lead to infertility, obesity, and cancer. For women, estrogenic mimicking chemicals can cause breast cancer; for men, these chemicals cause prostrate cancer, reduced penis and testicle size and low testosterone. These threats are not hypothetical. They have been proven in the lab and demonstrated in real world studies.
Many items sold in the Coop – as elsewhere – come packaged in plastic. But, as the Natural Resources Defense Council notes, “[W]e really can’t shop our way out of the problem. It’s unfair to put all that responsibility on consumers. Change needs to happen at the policy level. We shouldn’t have to worry about whether what we buy is safe or not.”

The European Food Safety Authority has been reevaluating the safety of all chemical additives permitted in food sold in the European Union.  If enough consumers demand it, the United States will have to follow suit.

Meanwhile, for Coop members who want to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals they consume from plastic, and who want to protect their children from the harmful effects, here are some steps you can take:

Whenever possible, buy food stored in glass containers rather than plastic or metal. If you must buy a food item that comes in plastic, repackage it at home.
Some items – like ketchup for example – are available in both plastic and glass containers; ask the buyers at the Coop and anywhere else you shop to order food in glass containers wherever possible.
Throw out plastic bowls, storage containers, and utensils you have at home and replace them with glass, wood or metal items.
Whenever possible, wrap food in foil or wax paper, rather than plastic
Use paper or cloth bags for buying and storing produce, grains, flour, nuts and other items, rather than plastic.
Instead of disposal or reusable plastic water bottles, use unlined stainless steel or glass bottles.
Say “no thanks” to paper receipts. Thermal paper receipts, which are now common, contain a toxic plastic in a form that is easily absorbed.
Wash your hands frequently and always before you eat and make sure your kids do the same, (using soap without harmful anti-bacterial ingredients).

The Coop Environmental Committee has worked for almost two decades to reduce the presence of plastic in the coop. Committee educational campaigns convinced coop members to vote to end the use of plastic shopping bags and the sale of water in disposable plastic bottles. The committee is currently working toward ridding the coop of the hundreds of thousands of disposable plastic roll bags we use each year, and continues to educate our fellow members about shopping with less plastic.

Plastic has been an ongoing concern for the environmental committee because plastic products generally don’t biodegrade. They end up in landfills and oceans, where they pollute soil and water, harming wildlife and humans alike. Additional environmental downsides of plastic include its production, which pollutes the air, wastes huge quantities of water and relies on carbon-producing fossil fuels and many toxic chemicals. But even if none of these other problems with plastic existed, the threat to human health would be enough of a concern to rid our food stream of plastic. 

In the past year or so the failure of agencies like the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to test most of the chemicals humans are exposed to has been in the news. As public awareness of this huge problem grows, there will be openings to demand greater action on food safety, including the ubiquitous presence of plastic in our food. The Environmental Committee will follow related developments and keep Coop members informed when opportunities for advocacy arise.  The Coop also has other committees that look at issues related to food safety, like the GMO Labeling Committee and the International Trade Education Squad. All benefits of being a Coop member and reading The Gazette.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

APRIL 26th- Upcoming Vote for Zero Waste Fee-Based Plastic Packaging Collection

Upcoming Vote for Zero Waste Fee-Based Plastic Packaging Collection
When:  April 26th, Tuesday night, 7pm General Meeting

Where:  St. Francis Xavier School, 763 President Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues

What:  Phase II of the TerraCycle collection will allow for collection of a very broad array of plastic packaging waste from products sold at the coop.  This waste will be upcycled and repurposed to create long lasting useful items (e.g., decking and fencing, planting barrels, garbage cans, etc.)

This vote is for a year long trial which will allow for a full assessment of use and participation.  It should be noted, the Coop is under no contractual obligation with this program. We can discontinue the trial at anytime, if needed.

How: In addition to our current participation in 6 free brigades (small bulk bags, food storage bags, cling wrap; Brita filters; baby food pouches; toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes; cereal bag liners; and energy bar wrappers), if approved, we will participate in TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Fee-based Plastic Packaging Waste Collection.

When are collections:  Collections for the free brigade items (see above) are currently the Second Wednesday of the month (4 to 6pm) and the Fourth Saturday of the month (2 to 4pm).  If approved, the plastic packaging waste will be added to these collection times. We expect to add additional collection times in the future.

Cost:  Participation fee for the Zero Waste Plastic Packaging Collection is $208 per bin (15 x 15 x 42 inches and includes shipping costs). Based on preliminary compressing trials, these bins will hold a very high volume of compressed plastic packaging waste.  The proposal is capped at a budget of $5000 for the year, which allows for 2 bins per month. Members can choose to make a donation when making deposits to help with the cost.

Participation: Participation for deposits to the 6 free brigades is open to members and non-members.  Deposits to the fee based plastic packaging collection will be limited to coop members only—a coop membership card will need to be shown prior to a deposit.  All free brigade waste will be sorted first into appropriate collection bins and remaining plastic packaging waste will go into the fee-based bin.

Members will be asked to limit their deposits to plastic packaging waste generated from produce/products bought at the coop.

Let’s be responsible with the waste we produce and see to it that our plastic packaging waste is upcycled and repurposed and not sent to landfills.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring Coop News: EarthDay Event, TerraCycle Collection and upcoming VOTE at GM.

The Environmental Committee is promoting a new partnership between the PSFC and TerraCycle, an innovative recycling company that transforms hard to recycle waste into new products- keeping more waste out of landfills.
Wednesday April 13th from 4-6pm.
Saturday April 23rd from 2-4pm.
In front of the Coop or inside if the weather is frigid.
*Please presort and separate items by category
*No need to clean or remove labels
*Please do not bring any other items than those listed:
Toothpaste tubes, any brand and size (toothbrushes okay too)
Baby food pouches and caps (any brand)
Energy bar wrappers (any brand but only energy bars—no other wrappers please)
Brita filters (other filter brands okay) plus other Brita filter related items
Plastic food storage zip lock bags (any size), plastic cling wrap, and small bulk bags (Please no plastic roll bags or shopping bags)
Cereal bag and cracker bag liners or bulk cereal bags (any brand)
UPCOMING VOTE: Tuesday, April 26, 7:00 p.m.
Meeting Location: St. Francis Xavier School, 763 President Street.
VOTING ON: TerraCycle Fee-based, Zero Waste Plastic Packaging Collection Bin
Proposal: Vote for a year long trial of the TerraCycle Zero Waste Plastic Packaging bin collection. Cost not to exceed $5000. Budget allows for 24 bins, 2 per month. If approved, start date is Summer 2016.—submitted by Rosemary Calderon

To honor Earth Day, on Sunday April 17th from 12pm to 4pm, members of the Environmental Committee will be setup at Coop outside! They are there to offer some tips, offer information and listen to your concerns. Come stop and say hi.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Year News: Coop members can help protect Adirondack Park

Have you heard of the Adirondack park? Spent time there to appreciate it's majestic beauty? It's a six-million-acre National treasure.
The Adirondack Park includes New York's Forest Preserve in Upstate New York. Unlike most preserves, about 52 per cent of the land is privately-owned. The Nature Conservancy bought a piece of this land (called Boreas Ponds) from a timber company, and now NY STATE is going to buy the land for the public – you and me! Right now the park's coalition is working with the governor on the protection details for this piece of land. (Bottom line – motors or no motors.)
Governor Cuomo has an historic opportunity to create a world-renowned, spectacular motor-free area covering more than 280,000-contiguous acres in the heart of the Adirondack Park. The Governor needs to hear from thousands of people like you who want to protect our Adirondack legacy and support Wilderness. CLICK HERE AND Please sign the petition today!
 And Click here to listen to an interview with Diane White Fish, Deputy Director of Adirondack Council, about why they need Coop members to become Advocates for this land!
*On SATURDAY FEBRUARY 6th from 12pm to 2pm, members of the Environmental Committee will be at Coop to collect signatures and can share information about this issue. If you are shopping then come by see us across from egg area.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Holiday Dates for TerraCycle Collection at PSFC

Attention Park Slope Food Coop Members: As many of you know Terra Cycle Collection has begun at Coop! It is usually set up outside coop unless inclement weather moves it inside to conference room. Here are some schedule changes for the collections due to upcoming Holiday:
the Saturday TerraCycle collection dates for December will change to the THIRD Saturday, 12/19. We will resume our regular second Wednesday and fourth Saturday schedule in January.
*Toothpaste tubes, any brand and size
(toothbrushes OK too)
*Baby food pouches and caps (any brand)
*Energy bar wrappers (any brand but only energy bars—no other wrappers please)
*Brita filters (other filter brands okay) plus other
Brita filter–related items
*Plastic food storage zip lock bags (any size), plastic cling
wrap, and small bulk bags (NO PLASTIC ROLL BAGS OR SHOPPING BAGS)
*Cereal bag and cracker bag liners or bulk cereal bags
See you this Saturday December 19th 2pm to 4pm!

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Park Slope Food Coop Members, PLEASE NOTE: A change in the Saturday TerraCycle collection dates for November and December to the THIRD Saturday for those two months, 11/21 and 12/19. We will resume our regular fourth Saturday schedule in January. Second Wednesdays remain unchanged, 11/11 and 12/9.