A Green Way To Get Take Away Waste In Flagstaff | to combat locally



In this 2014 file photo, workers separate non-recyclable items and trash, including plastic bags, from potentially recyclable items as they speed past on a conveyor belt at the Norton Environmental Materials Recovery Facility in Flagstaff.


Taylor Mahoney, Arizona Daily Sun File

ASH LOHMANN special for the daily sun

The use of to-go boxes and take-out bags has skyrocketed since the pandemic began with the increase in to-go orders in restaurants. A world with more to take away is a world with more plastic, and Flagstaff’s Azulita project has a solution: Tote-Ally’s reusable bag program.

The Azulita Project is a local non-profit organization that aims to reduce single-use plastics by educating communities, setting up projects and campaigning against plastic waste. Rikayla Scholl, an intern with the Azulita Project, said the nonprofit is dedicated to tackling plastic waste in both Flagstaff and Los Ilanos, Mexico, where the organization began before building a home base in Arizona.

“[The Azulita Project] is an extremely important initiative as plastic never degrades completely and has therefore started to fill the ocean and our landfills, ”said Scholl.

Emily Melhorn, program manager at the Azulita project, said the tote ally program was just one way the organization in Flagstaff could crack down on single-use plastics. Tote-Ally has existed since summer 2020 and has been growing ever since. In essence, reusable bags included in the program are viewed as a community asset that users can use to take away when ordering. This, explained Melhorn, primarily eliminates the need for single-use plastic bags.

“We’re trying to encourage the community to rethink the idea of ​​a reusable bag as something we own and be responsible for remembering to carry it around,” Melhorn said. “This model works well for grocery stores and other shopping, but it doesn’t really help contain the deluge of single-use plastic bags used for takeout and curb pickup, and of course that social distancing plastic bag use has exploded.”

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