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Do you love the planet and want sustainable packaging?

November 20, 2020

Because we care about the health and well being of the next generation, sustainable packaging has been on Miller’s radar for years. Honestly, we would have made the jump already... if it wasn’t such a challenge. 

--- Most conventional packing materials for perishable items are simply awful for the environment.

Styrofoam box liners, ice packs filled with chemicals and wrapped in plastic, plastic bubble wrap, and plastic tape. That’s today’s standard. The cardboard box may be the only thing that’s ok.

These materials are used because they’re cheap to produce and perform well. But this comes with a cost for the environment.

Styrofoam and plastic take 500 - 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. And, scientists still aren’t sure if it actually can fully decompose. Research shows that it may just break down into smaller and smaller particles until it all becomes micro-plastic, which will spread over the entire earth - in our water, in our soil, and in our bodies. We don't fully understand how microplastics will affect us yet. Only time will tell. 

Beyond the issues of decomposition, many awful chemicals are used to make conventional plastic and styrofoam and ice packs, and, one way or another, those also get into our water supply and our soil and our bodies. This issue hits close to home, as my well water is contaminated with PFAS.

---- Although limited and sometimes expensive, there are a number of new plant-based, biodegradable, and non-toxic packaging options.

Cardboard and paper decompose in 4-6 weeks. We will continue to use cardboard boxes and paper cushioning. Cardboard rolls will replace the bubble wrap. And, an uncoated and unbleached paper tape with natural rubber adhesive will replace the plastic packing tape.

The box liners used for UPS shipping are made from recycled denim, which takes about 5 months to decompose. We love that the material is recycled. The bad side is that it’s made from conventional cotton clothes, which are most likely made with chemicals. Although they are compostable, we do not recommend using the compost on edible or medicinal plants.

Plastic bags were tough. We needed to find something waterproof and durable. We found compostable bags made from plant starch that are nontoxic and, even though flexible, are strong and work! Yup, you can put them in your home compost. We will be replacing all plastic bags with these.

The ice packs are the best we can find and the only thing holding us back from being 100% compostable. The gooey inside is nontoxic and safe for food. To dispose, you cut them open and pour the contents safely down the drain (whether municipal wastewater or home septic systems). Then, the thin plastic that remains can be recycled where #4 plastics are accepted. 

---- Farmer Aaron’s goal is to be fully using sustainable packaging materials in 2021. However, this doesn’t come without challenges. 

Because these products are NEW, finding suppliers and cost are the biggest hurdles. Even if you find a company that sells the product you want, their warehouses may be so far away that the price of delivery makes the cost exorbitant. And, because of the newness, there is limited supply. Aaron will do his best to order ahead. 

The farm staff do their best to test materials on the farm before using them on your orders, but really only time and real life experience will show how these new materials will perform. Please please please, if you have an issue with how your order was packed or received, let us know! We rely on that feedback to improve what we do.

---- Please please please, if you love the planet and want sustainable packaging, let the farm know with a short message explaining why you want it. All the farm staff would love some motivation while making these big changes.

Marie Reedell

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