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ASHLAND, Ore. -- "Rogue to Go" is a new pilot program in Ashland. The goal is to reduce waste by reducing the number of single-use, to-go containers.
It all began with the owner of Simple Cafe, Javier Cruz. He said he started his own reusable container program at his restaurant a few years ago and his customers loved it.
"I just never liked waste. I never liked those boxes, especially because we are a small business," Cruz said. "In the winter, everyone gets everything to go because no one wants to sit in the cold outside. So I said to myself, 'we have to figure out how we can change this idea of one time use.'"
The City of Ashland heard about his program and asked how other restaurants could get involved. With the help of an Oregon grant and the Oregon DEQ, five restaurants and stores are now involved.
Here's how it works. A customer buys into the program. It is a one time $10 fee. That customer gets either a bowl-type container or your typical retangular takeout box to put their food in. Once the customer has finished the food and the container is dirty, the customer can take it back to any of the participating restaurants for either a clean and sterilized container or a token to later exchange for a clean container to continue the cycle.
Cruz was happy to know the Ashland Food Co-op jumped on board.
"Every single day we go through hundreds of single-use, to-go containers that are not recyclable, are not compostable. They end up going into the landfill. We said 'reusable container program? Sign us up!' We really want to reduce our waste as much as possible and our member-owners do as well," said the Co-op's Sustainability Coordinator Rianna Koppel.
Cruz already knows other restaurants and stores are eager to jump into the program. He wants to see it spread throughout Jackson County and eventually throughout Oregon.
Some of the restaurants and stores, including the Co-op, launch Monday, January 6th.
Below is a list of all the restaurants currently participating:
- Ashland Food Cooperative (237 N 1st St, Ashland, OR 97520)
- Falafel Republic (1465 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, OR 97520)
- Pie and Vine (358 E Main St, Ashland, OR 97520)
- Sesame Asian Kitchen (21 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR 97520 )
- Simple Cafe (249 A St, Ashland, OR 97520 )
Single-use containers are still available at these restaurants for those who choose not to buy in.