How Big is the Problem?
Estimates on the amount of plastic making its way into our seas are the equivalent to a rubbish truck a minute. Of all the plastic that has ever been produced only 9% of it has been recycled. This is frightening when you consider the amount of time it takes for a plastic bottle to biodegrade is 450 years. The public is increasingly aware of the impact this has on our environment and quite rightly, putting pressure on food producers to offer alternatives. As a green business, it is a huge concern of ours that we minimise our carbon footprint wherever we can. But is moving away from plastic as simple as it sounds?
What Are We Doing?
When packing our boxes we use as little plastic as we possibly can. Undoubtedly, buying from us is better than going to a supermarket. We get a lot of questions from customers about why we use any plastic at all. In short, this is because we care about the quality of our product. Delicate leaves, such as spinach and salad leaves quickly lose their moisture once they have been cut. Without packaging, we would see a substantial increase in the amounts that are wasted. Much energy is expended in producing a viable crop and it would be a minor tragedy if this were to be left unused. The main reason we promote dirty and untrimmed veg is that both outer leaves and a soil covering act to preserve the veg within. To naturally give you the longest possible shelf-life, keeping the veg as protected as possible is paramount and, hopefully, negates the need for extra wrapping.
Keeping packaging amounts to a minimum is always a priority here but when it is necessary we abide by recycling principals. We continually source recycled and recyclable materials wherever we can. All of the plastic can be recycled and the bags we have in the shop are a special biodegradable type. One of our boxes can be returned to us to be used several more times before we send it for recycling. Working out the environmental impact of different types of packaging material is not a straightforward task. Most companies will claim their product is superior. Plastic being worse than paper is a widely held belief but paper bags actually have a much higher carbon footprint. The over-riding concern with plastic is the length of time it hangs around in our eco-system and we will continue to strive for alternatives. There are some great alternatives being developed with plant-based materials, such as seaweed, although whether these can withstand the moisture levels on freshly cut veg is yet to be seen.
How Can You Help?
Generally, I try to avoid them but I challenge you to take a stroll around the fruit and veg section of a supermarket. You may well notice that all the organic produce is in some sort of packaging, albeit a net rather than a plastic bag. This is likely to be due to the laws surrounding organic certification in this country. You can't just call something 'organic' without having a Certificate from a recognised body to prove it. For businesses whose main focus is not organic, they are unlikely to invest in their own, independent certification so can only sell products that are packaged and labelled with the registration number of the original producer. This means all this extra packaging is necessary in order for sellers to be compliant with the law. If you want to buy organic food and keep packaging levels to a minimum, you need to buy from source. Try a veg box and see what a difference it makes to your bin contents. If you do want a box completely plastic free, let us know. We are happy to oblige, we would just warn you that certain vegetables will need to be used quickly!