Last summer, I wrote to Thrifty Foods wondering why their meat has to be packaged in Styrofoam, which is notoriously difficult to recycle. I wasn’t sure what sort of response I was expecting. The next day I received a call on my cell phone from a number I didn’t know. The gentleman on the phone told me that he got my cell phone number from my Mother when he phoned me at home. He enthusiastically explained to me that he was in charge of researching alternatives to Styrofoam for meat trays. He told me they were looking into biodegradable plastics as well as paper-based trays and estimated that they would be using more eco friendly materials for meat trays sometime next year. He also reminded me about their new policy of not stocking plastic bags at any of their stores. I was really impressed by the enthusiasm and speed of this response. I was so impressed that I wanted to do it again. So I sent an email to my local Safeway, asking them to consider phasing out plastic bags from their stores. I received a form letter back saying that they received my email and then nothing after that. I sent my letter in August, so I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to write me back. I wanted to publish the results of my letters to show the difference in responses. I also hoped that readers might write similar letters. Companies receiving five or ten similarly themed and timed letters would feel more pressure than when receiving one. I didn’t save my emails for these two because I wrote them before I planned this blog, but in the future I will, so that if you want to send one you can feel free to copy mine (although I encourage you to put your own spin on your letter). Also, if you don’t live in Victoria, send letters to your own local grocery stores.
Please let me know if you decide to write a letter, even if you send it to a different company or group than mine.
Though it may seem unrelated, I wanted to mention another great thing I have noticed, packaging wise. In France the egg cartons have a label that says whether the hens were cage-raised or free-range. This may not seem like a big thing, but I think it is great. I am on a tight budget and try to save money on groceries. Even so, I cannot quite bring myself to buy the eggs that say "Oeufs de poules élevées en cage" right on them. It is a gentle reminder of factors other than price that go into our food choices. This system is not perfect: I have no idea just how free and happy the lives of the chickens "Élevée en plein air" really are. Also, I haven't seen similar labels on meat and other products. I would like to see labels of what cattle and poultry diets consisted of as well. Marketers naturally advertise the positive aspects of their products, such as grass-fed cattle, but companies should be required to let consumers know if their cattle ate animal protein, for instance.