Why is there plastic in my veggy box?
I can explain
My veggy delivery is the perfect example of my embracing imperfection model
Having got my waste to very near zero in Cambodia, it’s been a process to get progress on that here in Australia. It’s been 6 months since I got back to Aussie soil and it’s been an interesting process, that’s looked a little like this:
First month (at friend’s house) – shopped mostly plastic free, drank more wine (thus bottles to recycling), accepted that plastic was in the house where I was a guest. Though I’ve got to say, my friends are pretty awesome.
Second month (moved into my apartment) – ordered grocery delivery to get some staples, there were several plastic packets. What I unpacked from my storage unit was a little scary – dropped the soft plastics to REDcycle. Also ordered a home delivery veggy box.
Third month – the veggy box was great, only compostable plastic for the most part, however my compost program didn’t take them. And I was having some issues re the cardboard boxes that it came in. Big, sturdy cardboard boxes that I was assured were reused but that I couldn’t convince the delivery guy to take and on one occasion I found them in my recycle bin. This was too much waste for my conscience. In tandem, I located a great food co-op not too far away to buy package-free goodies and when travel time was an obstacle I did the best I could at my local mainstream supermarkets.
Fourth month – I’d had a few conversations now with the veggy delivery company… but no change in action. I decided to look into other options. I did an extensive online search to find out all the companies (around 20) and if they delivered to my area and then began testing. The next one I tried, despite saying on their website minimal packaging and mostly plastic free, I found full of biodegradable plastic (not great) and lots of plastic sticky tape holding the bags closed. The box was a reused banana box but the contents was too much plastic for me, and it was generously taped shut. I didn’t give them another go, so I don’t know what their box pick up rate was like. By now I was in a good routine with the food co-op, had discovered a second package-free store slightly closer (still 30 mins walk) and was doing pretty well.
Fifth month – Onto the next veggy delivery company, and the one I am now staying with, as there is no need to continue the search and here’s why. There was a message on the website saying they had a problem with the website. So I sent an email. I explained my needs, location and wish to be plastic-free. They assured me that they collect their boxes back and admitted that they weren’t totally plastic free and listed the exceptions. I gave them a go. I got a text message to follow up and ask what I thought. I got more messages and they accommodated my preferences (coz cucumbers are gross, just saying, we now have an arrangement that there will be no cucumbers). They were so flexible, accommodating, friendly and proactive. They are on time every week. They take the box back. They will be looking at how to reduce plastic further. I am so happy, it is so easy and that is why i have stopped searching. I’m on my fifth week with them. I’ve had 8 plastic punnets which i’ve put into curbside recycling. The food has been delicious, fresh, interesting and local.
By the way, it was around here that Covid-19 lockdowns began rolling out. I feel so fortunate to have this amazing service and it’s one of the few ways I can support local business during this time because I don’t get takeaway or delivered meals, partly due to plastic, partly due to budget.
Sixth month – we’re only at the beginning. The world is changing, we’re in a really weird place with the Covid-19 lockdowns in place. My freezer is full of frozen veg in plastic bags. I bought pasta in plastic packets, something I haven’t done in about a decade. I’d gone 4.5 months without buying more than 2 cans of food – my cupboard is now stocked with cans. This is the time for doing our best without excess stress or depriving ourselves of food and nutrition. I’m so grateful that I still have my fresh veggy delivery every week – it’s become one of the best days of the week. It’s inspiring me to find new recipes and cook more interesting food. I’ve located another package-free store, not too far from my compost drop off place. It’s more expensive but can help with some things. I got some flour the other day, more expensive but since there is none in the supermarkets, I consider myself lucky. Ooh and it’s organic – yay!
This has been my philosophy for the last couple of years, it came more fully to the fore when I did a talk at a community event in Siem Reap in March 2019. We don’t have to be perfect to be doing a good job. If that was true, my business would not exist, it’s far from perfect but do you know what? I do my best every single day. That is what we need to do. I think of the Zero Waste Movement – it’s fantastic, but I also think it sets an unrealistic bar from the get go. The zero in zero waste is actually 10%, and I don’t know how to make that sound snazzy – but that’s a whole lot more achievable than zero. If we create 10% of waste that goes to landfill and we able to minimise, reuse, repurpose and recycle the rest, we are winning. And even if your waste to landfill is higher than 10%, that’s totally okay as long as you’re trying your best every day.
I prefer not to create too much waste for recycling. The recycling system was never particularly effective, and until I am convinced it really works, I’m a touch sceptical. However, in my above example for my vegetable delivery, I know that I am receiving plastic and I will put it in my recycle bin and that’s how it will be. And I’m okay with that. I do a lot in other areas. I can still donate my vegetable scraps to compost. I am doing my best to even minimise that – cooking potatoes in their skin so there aren’t peels, etc. Recycling water from my shower to use in the toilet. Making most of my own cleaning and personal care products. I’ll keep working at it but I’m also pretty happy with where I’m at for now.
how imperfect are you?
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What do you do? Where do you place yourself of the imperfect spectrum? Is there something you want to change but don’t yet know how?
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