20 April 2019

Earth Day 2019

Zero Waste Business Operations
at The Stone Store

We’ve always been dedicated to running a green business, 
but we’ve been especially busy in the last year 
searching for solutions to reduce waste in our operations.  
Sometimes it’s not the big flashy changes that make a difference; 
it’s the small every-day choices we make.


Most retail stores create A LOT of garbage.  Our first step 
in streamlining our garbage system was to reuse our large
 blue and clear bin-liners. Each day, our staff would carry the bags out 
to the blue and grey carts, dump the contents 
into the cart, and save the bag to reuse as a bin-liner again.  
As you may imagine, this can be a messy job and requires staff 
to be on board with keeping things tidy. 
It also still required trashing a few plastic bags each week 
because they would get dirty or ripped.

This year we took our efforts a step further 
and stopped using bin liners completely.  
Our dedicated staff work together to keep the bins neat and dry, 
so that they can be emptied straight into the blue or grey carts 
without a mess. This is a step that some people are 
willing to do at home, but you won’t find it in most work places 
because it takes a serious cooperative effort!

v v v

Other initiatives we have introduced to reduce waste in our small business:

  • Recycling ALL used pens, markers, highlighters, ink cartridges & toners through Staples Business Depot
  • Recycling our excess cardboard through a private local service
  • Retrofitting ALL of our lighting to be high efficiency
  • Saving ALL bubble wrap and giving it to another small local business that reuses it for shipping
  • Carrying products that allow bottle returns (milk, juice, yogurt)
  • Printing double-sided in our office (or not printing at all)
  • Switching to toilet paper in our washroom that is 100% recycled & has NO plastic packaging
  • Using all eco-friendly cleaners in our store, with reusable cloths
  • Offering as many products in bulk & package free as we have space & demand for, as they become available to us for our customers (for example: for every 20L bulk container of Oneka Shampoo & Conditioner used, 40 individual plastic bottles are saved from point of sale!)
  • We feed our compost to chickens! ALL food scraps from our produce section get passed on to feed free range laying hens that live in the countryside near Guelph Lake
  • We aim to reuse & properly dispose of any props for window displays and have recently made efforts to not purchase ANY new plastic materials for them
  • We no longer hand out balloons on Customer Appreciation Day
  • We made a commitment to stop using plastic straws in our store & stopped carrying any products that come with plastic straws like juice boxes & single serving soy milk beverages
  • When we order produce, we aim to choose the options that get delivered plastic free whenever available
  • In the warmer months we switch to any organic produce available to us that was grown on LOCAL farms to provide food that supports local food systems & that came with less mileage to decrease the demand for shipped food items during Ontario's growing season
  • We offer paper bags for purchase at 25 cents or reused boxes from shipped orders for FREE to pack customer's purchases in - this choice to have no plastic bags at cash out encourages folks to bring their own bags or not take one at all if only purchasing small items, plus invites a general mindfulness around consumption habits

NEXT UP: We have been talking to the City of Guelph and various biodegradable bag suppliers to try to source a compostable produce bag.  It is important to work closely with the City because many products labelled as “biodegradable” or “compostable” don’t actually break down in municipal composting facilities.  No certified compostable bags are available yet, but we hope to get some as soon as they are available.  In the meantime, we offer several organic & reusable options, which are even better than disposable! Paper bags are also always available for use on our produce stand. 

Lastly we would like to thank the continued support of our customers as we move back closer to our roots. Many people think zero waste is a new thing, but when we originally opened the store in the 70's - our goal was to bring natural foods to our community with as little packaging possible. Throughout the years the natural foods sector has seen many changes and a slight move away from this, however, we are very happy to see a trend bringing demand back to certain core principles from when this movement first began. We would also like to thank our like-minded staff! Without continued communal effort, refinement and accountability - these positive changes could not have happened!

Happy Earth Day!