There Is Too Much Plastic Coming Into My Kitchen

Sally Beare from Riverford Tunbridge Wells on how a veg box can help you to cut down on plastic.

I first became a veg box customer because I was buying organic food and the amount of plastic wrapping on supermarket organic fruit and veg was driving me nuts.  Because organic produce doesn’t use preservatives and chemicals to keep it fresh, it goes off at the rate it is supposed to – that is, too quickly for the supermarket, which needs to get it to a warehouse, then to the supermarket shelves, then to the customer’s kitchen. So I was finding that the veg I bought were swathed in layers of plastic.

 If you order a veg box from Riverford, you’ll get the veg.  In a box.  

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Then the next week you leave the empty box out for your Riverford driver, who’ll pick it up when he or she delivers your next box.  We use the boxes again and again.

One customer in Tunbridge Wells kept forgetting to leave his empty box out for the driver.  When he remembered recently, he had saved up six months’ worth of empties.  We were happy to take them back and use them again.

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Nature’s packaging

We never use pointless plastic.  If it doesn’t need it, we won’t wrap it.

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 Over four weeks in Autumn 2018 we compared our three most popular vegboxes with the equivalent products in the seven major supermarkets.  Riverford used 82% less plastic than the supermarkets.

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Sadly it’s not quite that easy…

It’s not quite as simple as I’ve made it sound.  One or two of the veg in your box will likely be in plastic.  They just wouldn’t survive the journey from our packing barn to your door.

This picture shows what happens is you take pak choi out of plastic and deliver it to the customer. It doesn’t take us long to get the veg to you, but the poor old pak choi is fit only for soup if it is delivered without plastic to prevent it dehydrating.

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You can recycle the plastic, or if you can’t recycle it locally, send it back with your box and we’ll recycle it. However, that’s still not really good enough, is it?

Home-compostable packaging 

By the end of 2020, any plastic Riverford uses will be home-compostable.  Some so-called bio-degradable packaging is worse for the environment than conventional plastic.  You can’t recycle it and it only breaks down at high temperatures, meaning it ends up in landfill or the ocean.

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Home-compostable packaging is different. It breaks down at low temperatures, so you can compost it in your own garden.  If you can’t compost at home, send it back to us with your box and we’ll compost it on the farm.

Beech netting

In 2018 Riverford switched all the netting for onions and citrus fruit to beech netting.  The wood is a by-product from forestry: when the trees in sustainable forests grow to a certain height, some are thinned out to give the remaining trees space and light to grow.  The thinned-out trees would normally be burnt, but our beech netting provides a better use.  

To dispose of the netting once you’ve finished with it, cut off the metal clip and compost the netting.

To find out more about Riverford’s packaging, click here

Check out our organic veg boxes here

To find out more, contact your local veglady Sally on 01892 576991 or sallybeare@riverfordhomedelivery.co.uk