News From the Farm | November 16, 2015

Please Return Our Green ‘Stop Waste’ Boxes

Full Belly used to pack your CSA fruits and veggies into waxed cardboard boxes. Now we use the hard plastic, green ‘Stop Waste’ boxes.  We made this change in late 2013 because although we were able to reuse the waxed cardboard boxes a few times, they had to go to the landfill once they started to break down. Because of the wax coating, they were not recyclable and without the wax coating they really didn’t hold up for more than one use. The hard plastic Stop Waste totes that we use now have proven extremely durable — we are not aware of even one box that has broken since they were purchased.  That means that these boxes can be used over and over again. 

Every week, for 48 weeks of the year, 1,100 families get a Full Belly CSA box. That’s a lot of boxes (52,000 — but who’s counting!) We calculate that more than 6 tons of cardboard waste are avoided every year as a result of replacing the waxed cardboard with the permanent hard plastic boxes.  We used an Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Emissions calculator and estimate that switching from waxed cardboard boxes to reusable plastic totes has resulted in an annual rate of greenhouse gas emission reductions of 34.1 tons.  So the program is a success in many respects.

The one way that the program could be improved is if we got all of our boxes back. But unfortunately, the number of boxes on hand is dwindling, even to the point that we had to go back to using some of the waxed cardboard boxes last week because we didn’t have enough Stop Waste boxes available. This program only works if the boxes are returned. That’s why we ask all of our members to bring a bag to pick-up the veggies and leave our box behind.

Packaging produces lots and lots of waste.  Your Full Belly CSA box has very minimal packaging compared to those of most of the CSA boxes, meal kits and home delivery shopping services that abound. When businesses try to reduce their waste stream, what they start with is trying to increase the amount of recycled and/or recyclable material that they use in packaging. Full Belly tries to do that as well — and we still see room for improvement.  But the best solution, with much greater impact is to make reusable packaging work.  That’s what we did when we went to the hard plastic totes.

Please help make reusable packaging work by returning any of our boxes that you may have at your home or business!  We’re going to be picking up all of our boxes at every CSA site and bring them all back to the farm for the break to assess if we need to buy more.  We’ll let you know what the count is when we have it.