My Life as a Karma Zero-waster: Glass Containers

As a zero-waster, glass containers are a must-have. I was surprised at how much I missed my containers upon moving to Toronto. In France, my journey as a zero-waster had been a long one, and I had built up my container stock steadily year after year so that it matched my needs one step at the time. Of course, before leaving, I had to donate them all.

When I arrived in Toronto, I immediately looked for zero waste solutions, but I had no more containers! Before buying new ones, I wanted to look out for second hand solutions first.

And then I discovered Karma Food Co-op and the stock of glass containers you can find below the members’ table. My problem just disappeared! Perfect! Now I sometimes bring back some containers myself.

Once during a set-up shift, Talia asked me to sort the overflowing supply of containers to keep the best of them. Applying common sense and my own judgement, I used the following criteria to make sure that they would be of use to other members: They had to be clean, dry and odourless.

Clean and dry is important, because we should be able to use them immediately while shopping at Karma. Odourless, because as we do not know their story, it is actually the second test – after the visual – to check if they are clean. Also, some containers can absorb the previous contents’ smell, which could overwhelm the new food’s flavour. To avoid that, after washing, if there is a persistent smell, add a pinch of washing soda or baking soda with a bit of water in the jar, shake-shake-rinse et voilà! (Washing soda is available in the bulk cleaning section at Karma. It is completely safe and non-toxic.)

I know that some members also prefer containers to label free, but I do not feel it is mandatory to be of used at Karma. I sometimes keep the label like the one on Crofter spreads, especially if I plan to reuse it for my own self-made jam. They are just so cute.

But if you like to remove the labels, here are some helpful tips. Because I do not like to use much elbow grease myself, some brands have labels that come off quite easily with only an overnight soaking in the rinse water from my dish washing. The Bioitalia Organic strained tomatoes bottle is one of them. There are just so many kinds of glue. Hopefully, more brands will use the correct one to make our reuse easier.

Another effortless method I have is to reuse the water in which I have added some baking soda to soak my vegetables and fruits. Once I take out my produce, I soak my containers overnight in it. As you can see, being a zero-waster for me also means trying to save or reuse clean water as much as possible. We tend to forget it in Western countries, where clean water is even used to flush toilets. But water is really one essential resource of our planet we should respect and protect.

At last, when there are just a few traces of glue remaining, I use a paste made with half washing soda and half cooking oil (any kind will do), rub it on the glue, let it sit a few minutes and then scrub a bit to remove.

Thank you to all of you, members, who have contributed to the stock of containers, making my journey as a zero-waster at Toronto such an easy one.

Submitted by Sylvie Ng

From the GM—July 2018

Dear Karma Members,

July is plastic-free month, and what better way to celebrate the month than with our new bulk bins! Buying in bulk saves on packaging, limits the consumption of food additives, is cheaper, and encourages reuse. Karma offers a few options to limit plastic consumption: you can bring your own container to fill; use a pre-loved container from under the members’ table; purchase a reusable Karma drawstring bulk bag; or purchase a paper bag. There are alternatives available and we encourage you to take advantage of them rather than grabbing for a new plastic bag.

Karma has always been a leader in what’s now called “zero-waste” living, only now, we’re doing it better. We carry a highly unique bulk product line, from toothpaste to miso. Over the coming weeks we will be increasing our offerings even more to make Karma your number one stop for your zero-waste needs. If there are any additions you’d like to see at Karma, let us know! We’re always looking to improve! Stay tuned to our social media channels to learn about new products and tips on how you can reduce your plastic consumption and waste generally.

The feedback we have received on the bins has been overwhelmingly positive and we are so thrilled that you love your new bins as much as we do! With the new bins, we don’t have to pre-bag any bulk in plastic bags, we can sell more products, and our bulk takes up a smaller amount of space. Thank you to all the members who helped with the renovation, and the BIGGEST thank you to the amazing staff who worked so incredibly hard to make this transition happen. The new bins wouldn’t have been possible without all of your help!

In staffing news, Karma’s bulk and meat purchaser James Byrne is going back to school in September! We’re so excited for him and know he will do amazing things. James will be taking a leave of absence for two months before coming back to work at Karma once a week in October. We will miss his master selling techniques and cheery self so very much while he is gone. Please wish him the best of luck in his studies.

Yours co-operatively,
Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org