I know you're out there, I'm just having trouble finding people to band together with. Even in "super-green" Portland it is tough to get stores to comply with zero waste. I've had a number of them refuse to put items in my containers. It is complicated with Oregon Department of Agriculture rules, but possible. We need to show vendors, stores, and other organizations that we care about zero waste. I'm only one voice right now. Are there any Portlanders reading this blog? How can we organize and make zero waste easier for everyone? Tell me who you are and what you think.
I live on the Beaverton/Hillsboro border (Tanasbourne/Orenco area). A couple of friends and I are trying to become less wasteful and progress towards zero waste. I am personally taking baby steps, partially because I actually do have a baby (and a toddler) and my life is pretty hectic, it seems. Need to survive her first year, then I should be getting more sleep and getting out of the house more! Since my friends and I live in Beaverton/Hillsboro, I am not sure if we would be that helpful to you, but thought I would reach out and let you know that we are here.
I have created an account that anyone here can reach me at (wasn't sure how to receive emails from this forum, and was wary of posting my general email address here): firstname.lastname@example.org. I have also attached a comment below that I have put in a couple of other sections of this forum (shopping and community) trying to reach out to other Oregonians. I live in the Portland Metro area.
I live in Beaverton, Oregon and need other Oregonians to join me in contacting the Oregon Department of Agriculture to request that we be allowed to purchase raw meat and other "potentially hazardous" foods in our own containers (I am not sure which other foods fall into this category). I have been in dialogue with Daniel Menasche, the Customer Advocate of New Seasons Market, regarding this issue. He, and the rest of the New Seasons Market crew, would LOVE to allow customers to purchase raw meat in their own containers, but they are legally unable to do so. (He was shocked to learn that Whole Foods Market has been allowing this in our area - since WFM is apparently taking a risk in doing so, keep it quiet that they do!!!). The ODA needs to know that there is a desire and a need for the food safety laws to be adapted to allow the use of reusable containers when buying raw meats/poultry/etc from grocery stores. We need many, many voices to combine as a force for change. Here’s the phone number for the Oregon Department of Agriculture's food safety division: 503-986-4720. Please contact them!
[As a side note, you should know that the butcher paper used at New Season's market is definitely not compostable. Daniel says that New Seasons Market is constantly on the lookout for a butcher paper that is both moisture proof and compostable, but have not found an adequate product yet. If anyone knows of an effective product that they may not be aware of, please contact Daniel Menasche (can find his contact info on the New Seasons Website, I believe). In the meantime, Daniel is looking into the possibility of offering their compostable deli counter containers as an alternative to plastic-lined butcher paper at the meat counter, but he would need to add a small sticker with the ODA required "raw meat warning spiel" on it. He is going to look into it and make sure this is indeed legally allowed. Thus, there would be stickers, but the bulk of the packaging would be compostable. Better than the plastic-lined butcher paper, right? At least until we can convince the ODA that customers should be able to purchase raw meat in their own reusable containers.
If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them. I have created an email account that you can reach me at: email@example.com
Sorry, I was wary of putting my general email address on here. You should know that I am by no means anywhere near zero waste yet. I am just starting to make baby steps towards it and am trying to face each challenge one at a time. Being unable to purchase raw meat in my own containers just happens to be one of the first challenges I am facing.
So glad to finally hear from someone. I have been down the same road with the ODA, New Seasons, and Whole foods. I have correspondence from the ODA stating there is a way for the meat counter to handle the food that is in accordance with the laws and is zero waste. However, I always have to battle with new seasons to get them to comply. Bottom line, they are not making it easy for people and we need to change that. I will email you at your general account soon and let you know what I've learned and share some more ideas for organizing in our area to let business and perhaps eventually law makers, that people want zero waste alternatives.