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Bye-bye styrofoam

First, let's list his concerns:
1. Apparently no other method (just plastic wrap, those flimsy plastic bags, paper, etc) seem to work as well when it comes to preserving produce.
2. If produce looks wilted by the afternoon, no one's going to buy it and it'll end up in the garbage.
3. If the produce dies in your fridge the same evening, you're not going to come back.

So basically, all worries about freshness. And I can't really argue with the man--I wouldn't want to buy wilted veggies! But surely there's got to be a way that doesn't leave tons of styrofoam in the landfill.
Because the other problem here is that stores aren't allowed to reuse the styrofoam. It's ILLEGAL! So even if you, as a responsible customer, washed and brought back your styrofoam, they'd be required to throw it out!

So what's the option? Actually, my own grocery store (and this is one of the reasons they ARE my grocery store) called Pousse L'Ananas ( 6346 St-Hubert street) is using it right now: a product that looks and feels EXACTLY like styrofoam, but is in fact biodegradable. And it's made by a local company that we can all be proud of: Cascades! Yay!

Bioxo is the brand name that Cascades has given its one-of-a-kind polystyrene foam. Polystyrene foam is actually the actual generic term for styrofoam--we just tend to use the first brand name that became popular).
Cascades is a global pioneer in the field of eco-friendly products (they make everything from post consumer recycled writing paper to recycled toilet rolls and biodegradable plastics!) and from what Maxim Guy, the owner of my grocery store, tells me, the pricing isn't half bad either.

Here's the breakdown:
Regular nasty styrofoam= 400+ years in a landfill @ $.3 per tray
Bioxo= 3 years in a landfill (after which it disappears) @ $.4-.6 per tray

What do you make of this math?
The cool thing about Bioxo is that it's OXO-BIODEGRADABLE. This means that it will break down into benign material even in the absence of air and sun (which tend to be in short supply in your average landfill). They're not compostable, but have been rigourously tested and proven safe (according to the FDA and Canadian agencies) for contact with food.


So I told Nizar Goulamhossen, owner of the Marche du Village about Bioxo. He didn't seem keen to do any of the homework and contact the company himself. So I offered to do it for him and arrange for him to have some samples he can test. After that, it's up to him. We're going to check back in about a month and see where he's at. He says he's really interested in being green. If you live in the neighbourhood, perhaps you can stop by to say an encouraging word. It takes a lot to sign on for something like this with a camera in your face!

So here's something you can do while we wait around to see whether the Marche du Village gets with the program: Go to YOUR local grocery store. Demand to see the owner or manager and bring a printout of the Cascades literature. English here and French here.
There are contact numbers on these pages. Pressure them to switch. If there's one thing I learned while researching the Challenge, it's that store owners care what their clients think and want. So make your voice heard!

And another thing: Turns out it's illegal to reuse styrofoam containers. I can understand this for meat and fish, but veggies? Really? Don't we wash those anyway?
What do you think? Do you think the city should work on regulation styrofoam in such a way that the trays used to wrap veggies and fruit can be washed and returned? It would certainly save the store money (and keep the stuff out of landfills).
My suggestion is to have special colour coding: black for meat and non-reusable styrofoam. And green or white for stuff that can be brought back.
I want to know what YOU think. Leave a comment or call our talkback line: (514) 597-5626

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