Is this the most eco friendly way to eat?
Posted by PR Neom
You can’t fail to have noticed your local supermarket doing its bit to reduce plastic waste. Carrier bags are now obsolete, polystyrene boards are being removed from pizzas and black mixed polymer plastic is on its way out too.
Cardboard punnets are becoming the go-to option for fruit and veg and stores are welcoming BYO (bring your own) so you can have your cuts of meat, fish, cheese and veg decanted straight into your Tupperware. There’s also the advent of zero-waste shops cropping up on the high street. Walls of refillable oats, grains, pasta, herbs, spices, fruit, nuts, chocolate buttons – you name it, it’s the most virtuous pick n mix on the high street.
But there’s another option that means you don’t even have to think about which bags and boxes to pack pre-weekly shop and we’re hooked. Enter the food subscription services. Something we have become acquainted as each year we see plastic-free July which kicked off in 2011 to reduce our waste and that’s been proven as a more sustainable way of shopping and cooking. In fact, according to a study by the University of Michigan, researchers found that meal kits had a much lower overall carbon footprint than the same meals bought at a supermarket.
While some kits might look packaging heavy, everything from food waste to greenhouse gas emissions was taken into consideration in the study. Delivered with exactly the right amount of ingredients and portion size, excess food waste is eliminated whereas supermarkets bulk buy and over order as they can’t predict sales and customer demand. And while some may argue that meal kits cause more of a carbon footprint via vehicle emissions, it’s not the case. Most food delivery services deliver on certain days of the week and will load the lorries full of orders rather than personal shopping trips that require return journeys and repeat visits. For example Abel & Cole map the locations of their customers each delivery day and work out the quickest routes between drops so they keep mileage low. They also only deliver to each postcode on a specific day to ensure they’re as efficient as possible.
Many of the kits also make it easy to recycle the packaging that’s included too so alongside the boxes and cartons, you can return ice packs where they will be disposed of in the most eco friendly way possible. Allplants include a sticker with all the postal details on so all you have to do is drop it off at your nearest Collect+ spot and they do the legwork for you.
Of course, there is price to take into consideration too but most of the kits have the option to skip delivery, or come on alternative weeks or even once a month so you can make it work for you financially as well as environmentally. And because they’re either readymade or have the specific recipes to stick to there’s no headache at dinnertime when it comes to family decisions about who wants what to eat. A revelation in itself!
Want to get the low-down on the best boxes in Britain? Read on for the vital statistics and how and where to sign up.
Readymade frozen meals for one or two people, these are hand-cooked from scratch, full of the good stuff and all vegan in a bid to reduce your environmental footprint as much as possible. A registered B-corp, every decision is made with the planet in mind. All meals are packaged in 100% recyclable paperboard trays with a BPA-free plastic seal that’s also recyclable. Even the insulating liner is compostable. And if you’re not sure what your council will or won’t recycle, just use the return label enclosed to send it back free of charge. The best (and healthiest) type of fast food we’ve ever indulged in, it’s an inspiring way to try meat-free dishes too.
A recipe based box, not everything is recyclable and it does look like a lot of packaging at first glance but by delivering the right amount of ingredients, there is zero food waste. Recipes are also designed on the basis of what’s in season and all ingredients are sourced locally so there’s no importing issues to consider. Plus any food surplus that does occur at HelloFresh HQ when creating the boxes goes to local food charities. With options for two, three or four people and the option to choose between three, four and five recipes a week, it’s a fab flexi approach when schedules are ever changing.
Another perfectly portioned recipe option, Gousto have gone one step further and utilised AI to collect data over the past seven years that allows them to predict the recipes their customers are going to choose on a weekly basis. Allowing them to only buy in the ingredients they need, food waste in the factory is pretty much non-existent. With a dedicated team committed to sourcing new packaging solutions, the company has pledged to reduce plastic in their boxes by 50% and using the most easily recyclable plastics is now a given. Other nice touches – they use recyclable card for their recipes, cardboard punnets for the fruit and veg and potatoes are now left loose. Baby steps that will make a big difference.
Known for it’s 100% organic fruit and vegetable boxes, Abel & Cole has also expanded its portfolio into recipe boxes and we couldn’t be happier. One of the original pioneers of plastic free, leave your packaging out on the doorstep before your next delivery and the driver will pick it up to recycle or reuse on your behalf with most boxes being used up to eight times! While there is some plastic in the recipe boxes, carrots are now delivered in a fully biodegradable bag and as long as the food isn’t compromised it will arrive without plastic. Even the delivery vans have been adapted and are super lightweight so they can carry more deliveries at a time – genius.
Stats show that Riverford’s organic foodie boxes use 82% less packaging than seven major supermarkets they tested against and they’re another company that delivers to customers in the same area on the same day to reduce food miles. They also avoid fruit and veg that has been grown in heated greenhouses as this contributes to CO2 emissions. Instead they use polytunnels or for things like tomatoes, they truck them over from Spain rather than flying them in or using heat methods in the UK. Who knew? Focusing on small-scale organic farms to ensure the most sustainable plate of food you’ll find, you’ll feel almost angelic tucking into your dinner in the evening.