We try and keep packaging to a minimum, as there seems to be more than enough plastic, cardboard and other packaging in this world. However, there’s no getting around the fact that we have to send our produce out in boxes in order to transport it and split it between customers. And what’s more, many vegetables – especially leafy greens – keep better when kept cool and moist and wrapped in plastic.
So our approach to packaging is this:
As far as possible we re-use cardboard, wood and plastic boxes that we collect from our customers (mainly Unicorn Grocery). Because retail and catering outlets are at the end of the food chain, they tend to pile up lots of empty boxes. We’d rather re-use them a few times before they’re thrown away.
For our supply through Manchester Veg People (MVP), we pack into re-usable plastic crates that MVP bought for the whole co-op. These are returned to us by MVP’s catering buyers.
We use two types of bag – a bigger bag to wrap up whole boxes of produce (e.g. 7kg of leeks or 12pc of celery) and a smaller one to wrap individual items (e.g. packs of spinach or kale). These bags are bought new from The Biodegradable Bag Company.
Because so much of what we grow is green and leafy, we use a lot of these bags, as they keep the produce fresher for longer – especially when the veg has been sprayed with cold water. However we don’t use plastic bags for squash, beetroot, garlic and celeriac.
The only other type of packaging we use is elastic bands for our radish and beetroot bunches. These are FSC and Fairtrade certified bands marketed by Green Tips and made by women in a tsunami refuge project in Sri Lanka – the only ethical elastic band we know about!