Making Green Choices: Reusing before recycling

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 3:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When people think about the Three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – most of the attention tends to go to recycling. This might be because it’s so convenient and very similar to throwing away trash. With recycle bins around, it’s easy to just toss the soda can or paper in to the bin.

“Recycling is wonderful,” said Jennifer Gordon, co-owner and founder of Blue Market AK. “We see it as the last resort. If you can first re-purpose, reuse, then we’re really going to make a difference.”

Gordon is all about finding ways to reuse and re-purpose items. She’s built a business around reusing products and reducing packaging.

“The impetus for me was a friend of mine challenged me to not purchase anything in non-reusable plastic for a month because she was sick of hearing me complain about it,” said Gordon. “And so I tried that, and it was super revealing.”

Blue Market AK’s website says “Refill. Not landfill.” Glass jars are a prime reusable item in their store, but metal and plastic containers also get used.

“We collect your used glass jars, metal jars, plastic containers with lids,” Gordon said. “We sanitize it in our commercial sanitizing kitchen and then we put it back out so jars like this in all different shapes and sizes have been donated, sanitized and they’re back out on the floor for people to use. These jars ... we see them come in and go out and come in and go out.”

Gordon’s goal is that single-use plastics become a thing of the past.

“Let’s face it, that yogurt container will last literally forever, so let’s use it over and over and over again,” Gordon said. “However we hope that by changing the habits of the consumers, where they’re not purchasing the single use plastics as much, they will start to not be produced as much. They might just disappear, or become a more rare thing.”

Blue Market AK sells food and cooking items, fresh local produce, personal care products, household cleansers and more that are unpackaged, in bulk, or packaged in reusable or re-purposed containers.

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