Let’s Talk About Plastic

Many of you have taken the time to post on our Facebook page or contact us directly about our use of plastic and we’re very grateful for your feedback and for the opportunity to talk about this. 

Link Greenhouses tomatoes on the vine

At Link Greenhouses, we have always been proud of our farm’s reduced impact on the environment through our reduced need to use a lot of traditional chemicals to support the success of our crops.  By growing indoors, we are able to provide an environment where our plants can thrive and where we can control pests, weeds and other potential crop-damaging issues through natural means and completely without the use of pesticides or herbicides.

On the other hand, as I write this in 2019, our reality is that we still need to rely heavily on plastic for a couple of key areas; mainly food-safety/handling and packaging for freshness.  For example, our English-style cucumbers require that we package them in a plastic laminate shortly after harvesting in order to protect their freshness and crispness.  The reason for this is simply that this style of cucumber does not have the same thick skin as other varieties and many people prefer the English style for the very reasons that make it more delicate: its thin skin and crispness.   All of our plastic produce packaging are examples of situations where the packaging is the current best solution for protecting the aspects of our produce that make it desirable to eat and preserve it’s texture and flavour.

Additionally, food safety is an area where we simply won’t compromise.  For example, we use disposable plastic gloves when handling all produce as that is what is currently considered the safest global best practice in order to protect the health of everyone who eats our produce.  We mustn’t compromise in this area, but we will always have our eyes and ears open for a better and more sustainable way.

Finally, many of you have specifically mentioned the lightweight plastic produce bags we use to package up items such as our $5 tomato bags.  Here’s an area where we think that change is coming, but it’s still very expensive.  There are some compostable plastic bags coming onto the market that would work for this job, but they’re still prohibitively expensive and we feel like this would make it very hard for us to compete.  Selling food is already a very price-sensitive market and we do our best to keep our prices as low as possible for you all.  For now, we think the best solution is for you to bring your own reusable bags when you shop at the greenhouse.  We’re happy to work with you to get what you want packaged up safely and in a way that will preserve your produce for the trip back to your kitchen.  For example, if you’d like to buy a $5 tomato bag but don’t want to take our plastic, just bring your bag to the counter and we’ll package up a $5 bag into your bag for you.  If enough of you are willing to do this, and especially if you bring your own reusable shopping bag (and remember to bring it in out of your car! 😊) we can keep making a difference together.

In the meantime, we continue to attend conferences and work on boards such as Durham Farm Fresh to make sure we stay aware of better, more sustainable solutions as they emerge.  🍅