A letter to... Farmdrop

by Hanna Pumfrey

As part of our goals to reduce waste in our new home we have been trying out different grocery shopping options, from Bulk buying to local farmers markets. A few weeks ago we decided to give online, and self-acclaimed ethical grocer Farmdrop a go.

Farmdrop's website states that they deliver direct from local farmers who are paid properly, allowing their customers to join them in their mission to fix the food chain. They also say that they actively seek to reduce plastic packaging wherever possible which is why their delivery drivers come in and unpack your shopping for you. A nice touch and I was sold, as someone who is trying to reduce waste in every area of their life this was music to my ears. 

I was therefore disappointed to find, when my delivery arrived, that 95% of the products were packaged in plastic. Not what I was expecting.

I am a huge fan however of Farmdrops ethos and everything the company stands for; the produce is lovely! I would love to keep using them so I wrote to Farmdrop to find out why so much packaging is being used and if they have plans to reduce this.

(24/07/2017) FLOR AND CESTA

Hi there,

I hope you are well.

I recently placed my first order with Farmdrop and was delighted with both the produce and the customer service I received. The online shopping experience is super simple and the gentleman who delivered and unpacked my produce was a delight. It is wonderful to have a chat with the person who is delivering your products and for them to be knowledgeable about what it is they are delivering.

I am a huge Farmdrop fan and massively support the company's ethos and general approach. I was particularly pleased to see when I made my first purchase that Farmdrop are actively committed to reducing the amount of plastic packaging used on its products. As someone who is trying to cut down waste in every aspect of my life, but in particular the amount of plastic packaging I ues, this was music to my ears.

When my delivery arrived however, although the driver unloaded the crate to avoid the need for plastic bags, I was disappointed to find that around 95% of the produce was packaged in plastic, even down to a bunch of herbs. Around 50% of which went straight into the bin (non-recyclable) as I unpacked the shopping into the fridge. This confused me as it is a direct contradiction to your website's claim that you try to use minimal amounts of plastic packaging.

I would love to keep using Farmdrop so it would be great to understand if you have plans to reduce the amount of packaging you use on your products and how? I really feel so that doing so would hugely differentiate Farmdrop and set the company leaps and bounds ahead of all other grocery providers.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards, Hanna

 (25/07/2017) FARMDROP

Hi Hanna, 

Thanks for getting in touch and we’re sorry we couldn’t get back to you sooner. We’re so grateful to you for sharing this feedback and we were excited to hear how much you’ve been enjoying our great service. It’s always so helpful to hear feedback from our farmshoppers as it helps to highlight the ways in which we can improve. 

I completely understand your views on plastic, and I agree it would be great to be able to further reduce the amount we use. I can assure you our packaging is constantly being reviewed (we’ve even hired an independent consultant to help us achieve this), as we know that looking after our environment is as important to you as it is to us. We try to minimise excess packaging wherever possible - both plastic and paper - though importantly we do have to balance this with the need to keep your food fresh and in tip top condition when it arrives at your door. 

I should mention that some studies suggest that the energy and resources used to create paper can be more damaging to the environment than that caused by making and using plastic. Over a series of many experiments, we have found that plastic keeps certain fruit and veg fresher than when we use paper bags, or no bags at all. Our paper bags with the plastic windows are fully compostable, and as I mention - we will continue to assess the packaging, and the amounts of it that we use.

I hope this information is helpful for you Hanna, and we’re looking forward to getting some more great produce out to you soon. If you have any other questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We love hearing from you.

Have a lovely day, Shannon and the Farmdrop Team

25/07/2017 (FLOR AND CESTA)

Hi Shannon,

Thanks so much for coming back to me, I really appreciate your response.

Great to hear that you are constantly reviewing the packaging that you use and trying to find solutions that are better for the environment. I did not realise that the paper bags with the plastic windows are compostable, that's really great to hear as that was a large part of the packaging that my order came in.

Really interesting to hear the research you have one around plastic vs. paper packaging, I would be interested to read those studies if are able to share a link?

It is rare to find a company that is so transparent about its approach, so thank you for that and for taking the time. I feel reassured that Farmdrop is true to the values it talks about on its site and is actively taking steps to reduce its environmental impact as much as possible.

Kind regards, Hanna 

 (27/07/2017) FARMDROP

Hi Hanna,
Thanks for getting back to us, I'm sorry we couldn't get back to you sooner. It's really great to hear from our farmshoppers who share our passions and vision.

I have been in touch with our marketing team about getting some of our research materials concerning paper vs plastic packaging and I will pass this onto you as soon as they get back to me. In the meantime I've included some links to some research I found online for you to look through:
http://www.allaboutbags.ca/papervplasticstudies.html
https://enviroliteracy.org/environment-society/life-cycle-analysis/paper-or-plastic/
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/mar/31/plastics-cardboard

I hope you find this helpful and, as always if you have any other questions or suggestions please don't hesitate to let us know. We love hearing from you.

Have a lovely evening, Shannon

27/07/2017 (FLOR AND CESTA)

Hi Shannon,

That's really helpful, I really appreciate you taking the time to come back to me on all of this. I'll give the links a read and very much consider the plastic vs. paper packaging challenge!

Thanks, Hanna

SO HOW LOVELY ARE THE GUYS AT FARMDROP- SO REFRESHING TO SEE A RETAILER COME BACK TO YOUR QUERIES WITH A GENUINE RESPONSE AND TO KNOW THAT THEY HAVE THOROUGHLY RESEARCHED THE CHOICES THEY ARE MAKING. HOW DIFFERENT IS THIS CONVERSATION TO THE ONE I HAD WITH ASOS A FEW MONTHS AGO! KUDOS TO FARMDROP- I THINK THEY'RE DOING GREAT THINGS AND ARE INCREDIBLY FORWARD LOOKING. I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND GIVING THEM A GO!