My Recipe Box Experience
Although seemingly stereotypical and of course not the same for all, I often ponder on how each generation’s buying decisions are influenced by so many different factors. One of the biggest increases in demand in recent years is for sustainable products and ensuring that a company you are buying from is ‘doing the right thing’ and in turn, you are too. Actually, 75% of millennials said that it’s important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit (Forbes). So, when I decided to give a recipe box subscription service a go, there were many questions running through my mind before I bought.
Veganuary – send help
I decided that I wanted to commit to Veganuary in 2021, mainly for environmental objectives, but also for the many health benefits that I believed a plant-based diet could provide me. Although I had already transitioned from dairy milk to plant alternatives and had stopped eating most red meats, I knew it would be hard. It’s not just the obvious that you have to look out for, but the full ingredients list must be assessed, it’s pretty time consuming!
*Cue clever online marketing by recipe box delivery services*
Yep, they caught me at the perfect time! I’d always been so against these services (for myself) as I knew I could cook (to an extent!), I loved stocking up on the week’s fruit and veg from my local market and to be honest, I knew that buying the ingredients myself would be cheaper. I also knew that my smartphone gave me access to so many amazing vegan recipes online at the tap of a finger, but let’s face it, how many of these recipes do you save into your favourites for them never to be glanced at again, or even if you do, the 2552 ingredients that most require just instantly throw you off?! So, the thought of choosing an array of exotic looking vegan meals each week, being given the exact ingredient quantities for each, with a step by step guide and have it all delivered to my doorstep sounded rather appealing.
Rescued by the recipes
Without identifying them (!), I went for the subscription service whose name in itself to me symbolised a company that was wary of its practices making a negative impact (great marketing). Their written values on local produce, recycling, community, health and charity initiatives ticked all the boxes for a company I would want to support. The finished meals looked delish (my excitement is always channelled through images of food), the array of recipes looked simple to make but high quality and adventurous (verbena harissa tofu & turmeric rice, hello) and there were a great amount of vegan options to choose from each week. Not to mention their overwhelming collection of 5-star reviews, zero delivery fee and cancellation of subscription at any time.
My first encounter
I think that in 2021, we now as customers expect to be updated on the delivery process from purchase click to doorstep landing, oh how demanding we have become. This recipe box had this covered and my delivery was bang on time. So, with nothing but positive thoughts so far, I took my box inside and started to unpack. I sub-consciously started to assess each part of the packaging. Yes, this was influenced by my career in the recycling industry but there is a strong argument to say that this was my inner millennial taking course.
- The outer packaging was a cardboard box (can easily recycle)
- The recipe book was made from paper (can recycle, but could they save on paper and release the recipes via email?)
- Paper advertisement leaflets from third parties (I understand its marketing, but it’s unnecessary and unfortunately, I instantly threw them in the recycling bin)
- Thermal padding for tofu (not recyclable, however reusable through their take-back scheme once acquiring 4-6 weeks’ worth)
- The individual bags for each recipe contents were paper (great, can recycle)
- Ingredients inside the paper bags (some naked but most covered in PLASTIC)
Not going to lie, although I was impressed with the take back scheme and use of recyclable paper, I was pretty shocked and disheartened at the amount of single use plastic that was being used by a company that had such strong environmental values. My initial thought was “oh no, have I made the right decision in buying this service?”. The main problem parts were the outer vegetable films and the condiment sachets as these couldn’t be recycled in my household collections.
Pack it Up!
Understandably functionality wise, plastic is the best material to use for this purpose but I started to think that there must be (definitely is) a more sustainable, yet commercially viable solution for this. Could aluminium or paper-based packaging be applied to offer a solution that is easily recycled, or better yet, could they innovate a resolution that utilises the take-back/reuse model, just like their insulating padding does? I was struggling to see how I could continue to receive plastic sachets of spices when I could buy a refillable jar that would last a lifetime. Whatever it may be, I think that it is an issue that needs to be swiftly improved to allow this service to continue to benefit its subscribers, without compromising the environment.
It’s a Wrap
I continued to receive a box every week in January and even carried on for an extra 2 in Feb. The recipes were super easy, took no more than 30mins and were delicious. It really assisted me in completing Veganuary. Overall, I’d recommend it to my pals, however my two main concerns to consider with a service like this are;
- Although recyclable, there’s a lot of paper and cardboard wasted – can this be substituted?
- Use of unnecessary plastic – let’s find an alternative
- Increased deliveries adding more miles to your carbon footprint
What are your thoughts on these services and would your buying process differ to mine?