Sustainability at Stong’s Market

You probably receive many messages about what you can do to help the planet and like many a New Year’s resolutions, you may even vow to start a new initiative like when you vowed to get into shape by going to the gym every day only to find out two weeks later that taking your exercise routine from zero to sixty resulted in you eating that whole bag of chips while watching the bachelor or GOT. At least they were veggie chips, so they were healthy right?

There isn’t a single person who uses plastics because they enjoy the effect it has on the planet. We use them out of convenience and we’ve become a bit of a slave to choosing what’s convenient. How many times do you order dinner from an app when the restaurant is a 5-minute drive from your house? Guilty.

Back on Earth Day (Apr 22nd) we announced a big change to our check out grocery bags. We started charging for plastic and paper bags as an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags used. We know, not ground breaking as many had already started this practice in the industry but new to our stores and still an important step to reducing plastic bag usage.

As part of this new sustainability initiative we gave away 10,000 reusable fabric bags to further reduce the need for plastics. Unfortunately, reusable bags are only as effective as people remember to bring them so we added signage outside our stores to remind our customers to bring their bags with them.

No More Plastic Bags

Starting Sunday Aug 18th we are going to take these efforts one step further and we are going to stop offering plastic bags at our checkouts and focus solely on paper bags and reusable bags.

It’s easy to say, “Why this way and not that way?” but sometimes things in life are a little more complex than they appear on the outside.

For example, paper vs plastic bags. Like many other retailers, we weighed the pros and cons of both paper and plastic for a long time. You would think paper would win by a landslide but just because they generally breakdown easier, doesn’t mean paper bags don’t have an environmental impact. Truly neither paper nor plastic bags are ideal long-term solutions.

Here’s an interesting article on some of the unique challenges with paper bags.

Our hope is that in the future, neither paper nor plastic bags will be necessary at the checkouts. We would love to see every customer come into the store with their reusable bags in hand and not left in the trunk of their car (or stuffed in the back of the closet).

More Sustainable Initiatives

That’s not the only area of the store that we’ve implemented more sustainable initiative:

Food Stash

For over a year now we have partnered with the local Food Stash foundation in an effort to divert some of our food waste from going to the landfill. Food Stash Foundation has a twofold mission to rescue food from producers and suppliers that would have been destined for the landfill and to deliver edible food items to charities as well as food-insecure households in Vancouver. They receive an average of 12,000 lbs of food per month.

Paper Receipts

We have switched our receipts to EcoChit paper. EcoChit plants one tree for every case of paper which means they give more than they take from Earth’s beautiful forests. Not to mention these receipts are 100% BPA and BPS Free and come on a recyclable core. Starting today, our receipts will also be completely optional. After all, reducing trumps recycling.

Styrofoam Meat Trays

Instead of a styrofoam tray, in our Meat Department we switched to a recyclable RPET plastic tray from CKF. Unlike styrofoam trays, these trays will be able to go into your everyday recycling bins. We’ve also started putting pressure on our suppliers to do the same as there are many products in our meat department that already come in on a styrofoam trays. Again, we know plastic is not a perfect solution here and we can’t change the world overnight but it’s still a step in the right direction while we continue to explore alternatives. Although, another benefit of having our meat cutters on site is when we do custom cuts, we’re often able to serve them wrapped in paper and avoid the trays altogether.

Lunchroom Flatware

We also discovered some staff were using plastic cutlery for their lunches. It may seem like a small step, but we still purchased metal cutlery for our lunchrooms. We’re also exploring the same changes within our stores but that gets more complicated because it involves the health board. Every little change helps.

Bakery Packaging

Our bakeries have already switched 90% of their packaging over to a plant-based plastic from GoodNatured. Plant-based Plastic sounds a bit like an oxymoron but here’s why it’s better than a traditional plastic container.

More to Come

There are still a few initiatives we are still exploring so watch out for more to come in the next few months. Like did you know you can make plastic alternatives out of an avocado pit? We didn’t either but it’s something we’re looking at.

We know there are still other areas where the level of sustainability could be improved but we hope you join us in celebrating the steps we have been able to make over the last year. There are surely going to be some bumps and unforeseen challenges as we implement the new changes but we know you will be patient with us as we work through them.

Learn More

To learn more about our new partnerships, read more about their organizations online at:

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