Did you know that 40% of plastic is used for packaging? Or that Canadians throw away approximately 57 million single use plastics straws every day? That’s more than 20 billion each year. With staggering stats like that, it’s easy to understand why here at The Red Apron, our team is always looking for ways to lessen our environmental footprint, support our local community and reduce waste, especially packaging, in every step of our process. From how we have our locally sourced ingredients delivered to us, to offering compostable take-out containers and utensils for all our meals.
Some of the ways we’re working toward lowering our impact on the environment are;
Buying in Bulk
We source all of our ingredients in bulk, in their purest form. For example, loose vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, sugar, flour come into our shop in cardboard boxes, or large paper bags weighing anywhere from 10 to 22 kilos. Meat is sourced directly from the farmer and is packaged in bulk, boxed, or wrapped in paper.
Our cardboard boxes, cans & bottles are separated from our garbage and recycled through our relationship with Tomlinson. They come twice a week to pick up those items, leaving very little that goes into the garbage.
Reducing Delivery Waste
During the growing season, our farmers delivered to us in reusable containers, and either transferred to our own reusable containers, or held for our farmers to pick up on their next visit. Sourcing locally supports our community, and reduces the distance that food travels from field to plate.
Paper Bags and Reusable Bags
We use paper bags in store, and encourage our clients to bring reusable bags. Plastic bags are only provided upon request and we try to source biodegradable plastic where available. We also sell reusable canvas bags in store, made by Eco Equitable Ottawa – a not for profit providing skills training for new immigrant or underemployed women. They create conference bags and promotional materials using materials that are salvaged or repurposed.
Recycling Food Waste
Our food waste (trimmings, peels, ends) is kept separate from our garbage and stored for pick up by one of our farmers. This provides our farmer with both income, as we pay to have it picked up, but also food to feed his pigs on the farm.
When we package items for sale in our retail store, we use the smallest container and squeeze the most food into it that we can. Our goal is not to make the food in the container ‘appear’ to be more. Our clients know that the portions are generous, and new clients are always surprised by how much food we manage to squeeze into each container. The packaging we use, both lids and containers, are recyclable in Ottawa’s Blue Box Program.
Compostable Take Out Containers
We recently moved to a compostable box for our ‘dinner to your door service’. This box is used for all food items that are not too wet to be held safely in this compostable container. These containers (Plant to Earth) go in your green bin at home and are great for collecting green bin items in our kitchen, before putting them in the green bin, reducing mess and smell in your home bin. Something else we’ve been working towards is a new partnership with Tilton; a Quebec Based, family owned manufacturer of containers. Our goal for this relationship is twofold: replace ALL single use plastics with items that they manufacture which are made 100% from recycled materials and are 100% recyclable in Ottawa; and where possible, to replace some of our containers with those that are made from plants, and are 100% compostable.
We’re always looking for new ways to run our business with less of an environmental impact, so if you’ve got ideas for us we’re all ears!