After my last article about the changes on the farm and at the business, I received a few emails encouraging us to keep up the good work. Back in the 90s (yes, we have been at home delivery for that long) we started out using paper grocery bags, lined with a plastic T-shirt bag for the “wet” produce. While that was a good solution for 50 customers, it wasn’t the best way to pack fragile items like tomatoes or peaches.
So we moved on to waxed boxes with a liner and put all the extra items purchased into plastic bags. Those waxed boxes lasted for 20 or 30 deliveries, which at that time seemed like an environmentally friendly decision, simply because we were buying less boxes. However, there was always this nagging feeling every time you had to dispose of one because it had to go to the landfill.
We were sensitive to the waxed box, plastic liner and plastic bag issues. We knew that there were companies in California in the home delivery industry who were using plastic bins to deliver their produce. The idea of using bins did eliminate the need for plastic bags, but it also supported the plastic industry quite a bit more than we were comfortable with, and we would have to make a very large investment upfront. For us there were a few apparent issues with this option: where does one store all of those plastic bins (1000s), all the damaged/unusable ones would still go to the landfill, and how much water and sanitizer would you need to use every week?
That last item was the kicker for us. Having to wash and sanitize every bin every week seemed like an incredible waste of water, soap, and bleach-type products. I would still feel like I would need to use a plastic liner because it wouldn’t feel sanitary enough for me to put your produce in a plastic bin. I still shudder when I think of this – yuck!
Mind you, we were a growing company with lots of little ones running around the farm (a.k.a., we were sleep deprived), but in one of our more lucid moments, we decided to go with a cardboard version of our box and stay with a liner and the plastic bags. This decision allowed us to recycle the boxes at the end of their usefulness, often using the older boxes one last time to send produce to the food banks.
One of our core principles is to be good stewards of the land and our natural resources. Because of this we are constantly evaluating our processes to better serve you as well as to benefit the environment. With those principles driving our discussion, we decided that using the recyclable cardboard boxes with a liner saves on landfill waste, plastic, water and chemical usage, and is a sanitary option. Is it perfect? No, but it has a minimal impact on the environment and is a sanitary way to distribute fresh produce.
Next week, I will go into our reasoning on plastic and how our company uses less than buying produce at the grocery store.
Thanks for supporting our good food network!