As I mentioned a few blog posts back, I found that during the plastic free challenge the majority of my plastic bags we coming from our local produce delivery service. I ended up emailing them and asking if they could refrain from packing my produce in plastic, to which they replied that they will put a note on our account but they could not guarantee the people who pack the produce would see it. However, they suggested we simply return the bags with the bins and they would be glad to reuse them.
The following week’s bin came with this message in the newsletter:
“Plastic bags, the necessary evil.
Trust us, we hate packing your items in plastic as much as you hate receiving them that way. Be sure to remove any berries, tomatoes, beans and beets ASAP. Plastic will actually help lettuces and zucchini stay fresh.”
Now, I understand that they probably have an efficient routine figured out to try to deal with the boom in business that they are experiencing this year, and my request probably throws a wrench into how they do things. If I’m the only person who made this request, I feel like it’s slightly overboard to put it in the newsletter for everyone, so I have a feeling I’m not the only one who asked. While I appreciate the fact that changing their procedure may be a challenge, doing it now, while they are a growing business, would be way easier than down the road when they are a bigger business.
The reason I chose to give my money to this business as opposed to a conventional grocery store is not because I’m lazy and want my groceries delivered, but because it is the best option available to regularly get local produce, which helps in my efforts to support local businesses and be a more sustainable consumer. If your business does not meet those needs, then I must look for an alternative.
Businesses, especially local ones, have the challenge of competing with corporations who can undercut them in many ways. But one thing that corporations can’t and don’t do is be flexible and respond to the needs of the consumer. Businesses should acknowledge and embrace sustainability as a selling point and use it to attract consumers. They would also be a major force in mitigating climate change in their communities.
Think about it, businesses are important contact points within a community. Many people use their services, meet other people in the community through their services, and talk about things that are important to the community. If your business promotes sustainability, it helps hundreds of your customers waste less and it communicates to them that sustainability is important.
So no, I don’t buy the notion that plastic is a necessary evil. Plastic is an unnecessary evil. That’s what makes it worse. No one is going to stop using their delivery service because they don’t provide enough plastic bags with their produce that already comes in a bin. But they may do the reverse.