Saturday, January 28, 2017

Re: Tip of The Month (Reusable/Recyclable)

Happy New Year! It's 2017 and time to look at how we can make our shopping trips more Eco friendly to the planet.

From the "Form Healthy Habits" website:

 Opt for Reusable Products

Reusable products are less likely to end up in landfills, reducing your impact on the environment. Plus, despite their upfront cost being slightly higher, this type of product will save you money in the long-run. Ditch the paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable grocery bags and opt for reusable items instead.

Look for Recyclable Packaging 

 You can, of course, make your shopping trips greener by looking for products packaged in recyclable or reusable packages. As far as recycling goes, take a look at the packages you are buying and look for the “recyclable” icons on the plastic or can– then make sure you actually remember to recycle when you're finished with the product. In terms of reuse, glass jars and plastic containers can be used to store buttons, craft supplies, and even leftovers. All you have to do is make a conscious effort to buy things you can work with instead of things that will simply be thrown away.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Environmental Committee's Tip of the Month!

Hello Coop Members!
Environmental Committee's Tip of the Month: 
Try Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
Combine baking soda and vinegar for kitchen and bathroom cleaning.  
Vinegar alone is great for cleaning glass windows and mirrors, as well as for getting cat odors out of fabric, wood floors or anything else.
Go online for tons of tips on cheap, nontoxic cleaning.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

TerraCycle Collection at PSFC is expanding and needs your help! Learn more and join the squad.

The TerraCycle Collection is expanding and needs YOUR help!

We currently have two work shifts, which fall on the second Wednesday of the month from 3:30 to 6:30p.m., and the fourth Saturday of the month 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

If these shift times do not work for you to become a squad member, we still want to hear from you as we are very interested in adding new collection times. Dedicated
FTOP workers are also welcome. If you can be on a shift more times than not, we
would definitely welcome you on shifts as much as you can schedule with us.

Info about the shift:

*Shifts are very stable, 12 shifts per year, no moving around the calendar
based on work week A, B, C. or D. Shifts are set for a particular day/time of
the month and do not change.

*Enjoy working your shift with like-minded environmentally conscious Coop
members, members you work with and members who drop off their recyclables.

*This shift is a very feel good shift knowing you are making a difference and
helping members to make a difference in improving our environment.

*The shift tends to go quickly as the collection is well received by members
and we tend to be busy throughout the shift.

*For most of the year, the collections are held outside and shift workers enjoy
fresh air.

*You will get your hands dirty—not unlike work on other shifts. We have
gloves available and you can go in periodically to wash your hands in the

*There will be a few shifts where weather may be of concern.  We have a
policy to address hot, rainy, or frigid weather with consideration to workers’
comfort. More details are available if interested.

*The work of the shift does require a fair amount of standing and some light
lifting. At the end of each shift we carry or cart the boxes to the UPS store on
Flatbush and Seventh Aves

Interested in working the Wednesday or Saturday shift or starting a third collection time as your workslot? We want to hear from you! Contact Cynthia Pennycooke in the Membership Office: 718-622- 0560 AND Inquiries can be sent to  
For more information about Terracycle, visit

Friday, July 22, 2016

Expanded TerraCycle recycling is here at the Coop!

Outside of the Coop except during inclement weather when collection will be held inside the Coop

2nd Wednesday of the month 3:45-6pm
4th Saturday of the month 1:45-4pm
(Please try to come at least 15 minutes before the end of the shift.)

New expanded plastic collection for Coop members only! 
Please be ready to show your membership card. 

New items collected:
  • Plastic bags/wrapping/packaging from most Coop items (both food and non food items.)
  • Plastic roll bags distributed by the Coop.
  • Thin plastic film wrapping from items such as cheese, meat, toilet paper, tea boxes etc. 
NO foil backed packaging is accepted at the moment.

The regular TerraCycle collection is still available to Coop and non-Coop members!

Ongoing community collection items:
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, any brand and size.
  • Baby food pouches and caps, any brand
  • Energy bar wrappers (any brand but only energy bars)
  • Brita and other similar water filters
  • Plastic food storage zip loc bags, cling wrap and small bulk bags such as the bags used for spice, nuts and dried fruit.
  • Plastic cereal and cracker bags (no foil packaging)
NO shopping bags
Food residue and paper labels OK

It was a scorching June afternoon that heralded the arrival of the expanded TerraCycle collection here at the Park Slope Food Coop.
ONLY SOFT PLASTIC FROM COOP PURCHASES.  More than one Fresh Direct labeled ziploc bag was handed back to sheepish members.  Why?  The Coop has to pay extra for the items in this expanded collection. 
Donations of any amount are welcome!
Please wash food residue before handing over.  The TerraCycle committee cannot send off plastic with food on it and if your plastic is dirty you will be asked to pop into the Coop to rinse it off.
It is really helpful to try and sort the various types of plastic if possible.  The TerraCycle squad will always help but collections can get busy.  Any extra organizing beforehand is always welcome.
Remember that everything from toothpaste to baby food pouches are collected.
 The youngest member of the TerraCycle squad hits up the plastic sorting.  If a five year old can sort plastic there's hope for all of us.
That's a girl's size amount of plastic waste saved 
from landfills and out of our environment.

Tom, a Coop member for five years says this about the TerraCycle collection. 
"I love it. I wish we could recycle everything. I wish we could do the dry cleaning bags. I wish we could do more. I would be all for that. It sickens me to see the amount of plastic we can't get rid of."
Tom has used roll bags only half a dozen times in five years. We can't all be Tom but we can certainly make sure our roll bags get recycled. Single use plastic is the most commonly used plastic found to affect wildlife.

Plastic People

Photo credit: Jenna Spevack
With the recent roll bag vote and the expanded TerraCycle collections happening at the Coop, plastic has had increased visibility among Coop members.  However, there’s one area where plastic chemicals are ubiquitously present yet mostly unseen within the walls of 782 Union. Where? Actually inside our food and then ultimately in our bodies. 

To understand how plastic chemicals end up food and then in people, a basic lesson in polymer chemistry is needed.  Simplified, plastics are made up of long chains of plasticizer chemicals (a monomer is a plastic compound, which when strung together make up polymers that form the building blocks of plastic.)  Plastics of course have a wide variety of uses.  From hard, colored plastic to flexible, transparent cling film and other types of food packaging, plastics have brought a certain ease to many us living a modern life.

Unfortunately popular plastic chemicals share two characteristics that’s a problem for us.  They are able to interact with the body’s hormonal systems (it is increasingly observed how detrimental they can be for human health) and secondly they don’t stay put.  Plastic chemicals need very little to start migrating out into the wider environments they find themselves in.  Promiscuous polymers are not what we tend to think about when we think about plastic, but there’s excellent data to show this migration clearly.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has observed the plasticizer BPA or Bisphenol-A in the urine of 93% of American’s tested and phthalates (the class of plastic chemicals used to make PVC) have been found in the majority of children tested.  This is very concerning as phthalates are linked to a host of conditions affecting kids, including birth defects, asthma and allergies.

The public would be surprised to hear that food is major source of plasticizers like phthalates.  After all no one intentionally eats plastic but dietary source of plastic chemicals can be oxymoronic to say the least, both in your face and hidden in plain sight.  The plastic your food has been produced with and is wrapped and packaged in is the key source of this dietary exposure.

A 2013 New York study showed phthalates showing up in food bought in everyday supermarkets.  The plasticizers were found in everything from turkey bacon, fresh salmon steaks, vegetable soup to even cake mix and bread. These food items were bought straight off the shelves in randomly selected supermarkets.  You can see the entire list of food products hereand these chemicals will be found in both organic and conventional products.


So what’s a Park Slope Food Coop member to do? 

Well there are things that we can start doing right now:  
  • Reducing the amount of food bought in plastic packaging and tin cans (cans are lined with a plastic film that is for the most part made from BPA and BPA alternatives such as BPS and BPF) is a start.  Try bulk buying those garbanzo beans rather than getting tins, or using fresh ingredients to make foods like soups is a great way to avoid the cans.
  • Buying in season and freezing.  Frozen peaches still come in soft plastic bags but peach season means an abundance of fruit at great prices that can easily be frozen in glass containers.
  • Using more cloth reusable bags for bulk and less plastic roll bags.  These bags easily find their way into waterways, soil and other areas of our environment. Chemicals can leach from these bags as the plastic starts disintegrating and into it’s surroundings.
  • If you have to use roll bags, returning them in our extended TerraCycle collections will keep them out of general environmental circulation and recycling provides the building blocks for other plastic materials.  Soft plastics are NOT covered by NYC recycling initiatives, so TerraCycle is one of the few ways to keep these plastics out of landfills etc.
One initiative worth exploring could be to allow members to buy more bulk with less plastic usage.  This could work for things like cheese for example.  It is currently possible to purchase some items in bulk, using your own non plastic packaging but it’s not widely advertised or done (it seems to be dependent on the shift and squad leader.)  With more members interest, this could be something offered on an official ongoing basis.


1 National Toxicology Program, Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction Monographs on the Potential Human Reproductive and Developmental Effects: phthalates reviews available at:

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.