A Co-op’s Response to the Loss of Curbside Recycling

We’re all hearing about more and more area cities and towns, besides Harrisonburg, who are eliminating curbside recycling. There are many contributing factors, including everything from China’s refusal to continue to accept America’s trash to a greatly reduced need for recycled glass.

These factors have resulted in a stressed recycling market that is leaving cities nationwide in a dilemma. Now, leaders in localities across the country are left to figure out if they can afford to salvage their recycling programs or find alternative solutions.

Friendly City Food Co-op is uniquely positioned to offer alternatives to plastic packaging and educate our community on ways to ReThink their purchases, in addition to the more common Three R’s: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse.  


  1. Our bulk food/herb bins allow shoppers to bring in their own containers, or use fabric (or paper) bags to hold their products for purchase.
  2. Glass bottle milk with deposit closes the loop and avoids glass recycling altogether. Same is true of water kefir sodas, and we can explore the potential of beer growlers in expansion project.
  3. Many of our beers come in aluminum cans, which are now more friendly for recycling, weigh less than glass and are crushable which reduces mass in recycling bins.
  4. We bag groceries in only paper bags, never plastic, and now provide paper bags for bulk purchases.
  5. We sell stainless steel straws, water bottles, food containers, plus fabric bags for produce and bulk as well as re-usable bags for groceries.
  6. We provide loaner bags (in a basket in front of the store) for when you forget your reusable bags.
  7. Our salad bar and hot food bar offer compostable containers, and shoppers can bring their own containers if they choose (you can have your container weighed to get a tare first)
  8. We encourage shoppers to bring in their old six-pack and four-pack holders for us to re-use for kombucha, sodas, single beers, etc. and allow folks to bring back clean paper grocery bags for us to use for other shoppers going forward.

Maybe you can think of other ways to ReThink your purchasing in order to lighten the recycling load. We’re all in this together and if we’re committed to finding solutions, we can. April is Earth Month and we feel like these are some ways to start making changes for the better.