Aiming for “Nude Food”
At Ooooby, we try to keep all your fresh food in the nude. This means without excess packaging, especially plastic. This reduces the amount of ‘stuff’ that needs to go in bins to be sent to landfill.
When ditching plastic, the biggest challenge in the food sector is to implement systems which prevent product waste, don’t compromise health and hygiene, and don’t put cost pressures on the most vulnerable in our society, especially when it comes to food. That’s a lot, isn’t it?
What is Ooooby doing?
Minimising plastic packaging in your Ooooby boxes is one of our top priorities, but it isn’t always easy or straight forward! We work closely with our growers and suppliers to be as plastic-free as possible from farm to table. But, plastic is cheap, convenient, and really good at its job. It’s also everywhere and a ubiquitous part of the food industry because it has important uses.
Finding adequate, affordable alternatives to plastic packaging is a challenge that requires persistence, consideration, and compromise. It is an ongoing journey and one which we will keep working towards, but we believe it’s important to bring our customers along with us on this journey and to let you know that we don’t have all the answers yet.
We don’t always get it right – There is always so MUSHROOM for improvement.
Just this week we had to do a bit of this consideration and compromising when a new product arrived wrapped in plastic unbeknownst to us.
Most of the mushrooms we supply are spray-free, not organic. So of course we were excited when we found a local grower selling certified organic white button mushrooms! The mushrooms arrived big and beautiful, in cardboard punnets as promised. Sadly, we were shocked to find out, they were also wrapped in a biodegradable and not compostable plastic film.
This was so disappointing. We go to painstaking lengths to ensure there’s no plastic in our produce boxes and source other products with eco and minimal packaging.
However, once the mushrooms were received, there was little we could do. Letting such a premium product go to waste was certainly not an option. It’s obvious also that the grower was also doing his best to protect these little white button beauties. He worked so hard to grow and harvest them. The plastic packaging was also clearly a way for him to advertise his brand and organic certifications. It’s difficult to fault him for this because plastic remains the cheapest and most available option.
After A LOT of discussion, we made the decision to remove the plastic and put the punnets in brown paper bags. We did not remove the plastic to try and deceive or pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, but because we know that some of our customers are working towards zero plastic homes, and we did not want to jeopardize that or pass the responsibility of disposal along to our customers. We wanted to take care of this. Sadly, regardless, the plastic is destined for the landfill either way and we didn’t want to make it your problem.
We did not make this decision lightly. There was a lot of passionate debate about how to handle the situation and what to do moving forward. Moving toward zero plastic in our boxes and in our operations is important to all of us. We take it seriously as individuals and because we know it matters to our customers.
How can we avoid a repeat in the future?
Firstly, as important as certified organic is, if you don’t personally know who grew it there’s a greater chance that you get something you don’t want. Local is critically important too! Sometimes, it’s a trade-off between organic and local produce without the packaging.
Secondly, don’t make assumptions. Always double and triple check! What we value might not be so obvious to someone else.
Additionally, in an effort to reduce our weekly waste, we are currently looking at new box designs that we hope will allow us to ditch plastic tape completely.
However, as a small business, with every decision, we do need to think about the financial costs involved. This is just the reality. The additional costs of things like paper tape and/or new boxes needs to be balanced with our ability to pay growers fair prices, offer staff decent benefits and liveable wages, maintain top-quality and health standards of the produce, etc.
Like most things in life, this issue is complicated and there is no one clear-cut answer. But, we promise to keep moving forward with our good intentions and our commitment to the planet and each other guiding our direction.
What can you do to help?
As a consumer you can help by continuing to prioritise eating locally and seasonally, and ensuring that food is consumed sooner before it goes to waste. Voting with your dollar for a shorter food supply chain encourages the rise of community-based growers so you can see where your food comes from and it doesn’t need to be transported as far.
Thank you for your continued support and for coming along on this ever-evolving journey with us.
If you have any tips or advice for us, or others out there, then please do feel free to comment below and let us know.