100 Day Challenge #22: Skip food in superfluous plastic
We thought people were becoming more aware of single-use plastic items, but we're noticing more and more produce at the grocery store already packaged and wrapped in plastic. Why is almost all the produce at Target wrapped in plastic? (And for the record, Target is definitely not the only store doing this). We don’t want to buy three bell peppers; we only want one. And we certainly don’t want three that are in plastic. Let the bell peppers free!
As we walked out of Target, all we could talk about was the massive amounts of superfluous plastic in the veggie aisle and we just kept asking, "Why?" Why would stores continue to produce so much waste when it's completely unnecessary? And why would consumers continue purchasing food like this and support this destructive habit? After much thought and some investigating, this craziness started to "make sense.”
So many grocery stores are prioritizing streamlining their operations at the expense of the environment.
And let's be honest, this "streamlining in a bag" as we think of it is only convenient for them. Grocery stores spend less time shelving the produce, and you're left without the option of picking the specific veggies you want. Staff at the checkout aisle simply have to scan a barcode instead of punching in produce PLUs, and you're stuck with eight tomatoes when you really only wanted four (and those other four will probably go to waste). We now understand why stores do this, but we're hoping that as we all become more aware of this destructive and unnecessary practice, we'll make a "consumer statement" and forgo the so-called convenience of buying pre-packaged food and buy plastic-free veggies! Produce aisles like the ones we see at Sprouts make us super happy! No plastic needed here!
Packagers claim that the plastic package protects food and keeps them crisp and fresh longer. In some specific cases we can see this being true, but if food weren't shipped around the world to begin with, then this would be a much smaller issue. Some also argue that the packaging keeps produce more sanitary and discourages shoppers from handling the food. We say, we're all capable of washing produce once we get home... it's really not that hard. On the flip side, we found out through our research that studies have shown that pre-cut and pre-bagged salads are more prone to salmonella for example. Makes sense to us: a moist and often warm environment inside a bag for several days... seems like the perfect environment for bacteria to grow!
Skipping pre-bagged produce is yet another example of a simple, daily decision that we make that will impact our planet (either positively or negatively) for many years and generations to come. According to the EPA, packaging makes up almost 25% of all the trash that goes into landfills in the United States, and most of it was wrapped around a food or beverage. So, be thoughtful in your purchasing decisions! Even if you can't buy local, choose food with minimal to no packaging.