Sustainability, Packaging and Recycling at Farmers to You

At Farmers To You we are committed to doing our part to sustain our communities, environment and planet. We are always working on new strategies to decrease waste and to keep our carbon footprint small.

Food Waste

customer at pickup site

Farmers To You is committed to creating a sustainable food system without food waste. We work with over 80 local farmers and producers, and from them we order only what we've sold each week to you - our partner families. Any leftover food is used for staff dinner, donated to the Barre Food Shelf or sent to Boston in the for-sale coolers. Food scraps are composted, and no food is thrown away. We have truly created a food distribution model without food waste!

Additionally, each week, our warehouse and office generates only two bags of trash. This is after our 15-20 employees receive and unpack the food from our partner farms, pack all 800 of your orders, plus keep the FTY operations going.

Reusable Grocery Bags

We love our reusable Farmers To You bags. We ask that you return your bags each week, at your pickup site, or leave out for your delivery driver to pick up. Reusing bags reduces waste, keeps costs down and is better for our environment. We thank you for your collaboration!

Plastics and Packaging

At the grocery store, food that appears unpackaged in the produce department can be deceiving. Packaging to protect food as it is shipped, stocked, and presented to you adds up to a large amount of plastic waste - usually unseen. We are proud to say that the packaging that arrives to you in your Farmers to You grocery bag is nearly all the packaging that was used for those products. Your food is bagged and packaged on the farm or at FTY, and then comes straight to you!

You may ask, "Why do you use plastic bags in the first place!"? It's true, while Farmers To You is committed to reducing waste and environmental impact at every level, we still choose to use plastic at this time. Plastic bags preserve the delicate balance of moisture in greens and vegetables while keeping dry goods dry. They also keep your food - vegetables, for example - from touching meat or other packaging. We encourage you to reuse and recycle your plastic bags - simply wash and dry them, or take them to your nearest plastic bag recycling.

If you do not have a place to recycle, we will take plastic bags back each week and recycle them here. Please wash and dry them, then place in your Farmers to You bag, with your other returnables, and bring them to your weekly pickup.

We are regularly researching alternatives to plastic bags, and choose other options as much as possible. Unfortunately, we do not currently have a better, food-safe and environmentally friendly solution. We are trying out alternatives to plastic clamshells, and are hopeful about finding eco-friendly packaging that keeps your food protected, fresh and delicious.

Always Improving

As an organization, and as individuals in it, Farmers to You is very concerned by how much waste is produced by large-scale food systems (40% of food wasted from farm to table), and by environmental degradation related to food production and distribution. We are constantly brainstorming how to reduce packaging waste, as well as increase recycling and reusables. We are currently researching and compiling up to date information on reducing impact, and are committed to offering transparency about what goes into getting your delicious farm-fresh food to you. We continue to try and do our best, and recognize that we are a small part of larger efforts to find solutions to plastic and environmental waste. We are committed to participating in the network of small businesses reducing plastic and packaging use, and to participating in movements to reduce waste overall.

Here is what we are currently doing to reduce our waste, and recycle and reuse as much material as possible:

  • We return the majority of cardboard boxes and reusable bins to our farmers and producers for reuse, or cut them up and use them to protect your fragile items en route to you.
  • We reuse FTY Bags, Cold Packs, Egg Cartons, Plastic Tomato clamshells, and shipping totes. We take back your Strafford Glass Milk Bottles and give you a deposit credit so that Strafford can sterilize and reuse those bottles. Just pack it all up in your FTY bag, and bring it back to your pickup site each week!
  • We recycle all that can be recycled here at the hub, and take saran wrap and packing peanuts to the Alternative Recycling Center in Barre, VT
  • We produce no food waste, composting a small bin of food scraps each week.
  • We strongly encourage our members to recycle all other packaging materials that arrive in your FTY bags. The clamshells for mushrooms and herbs, the plastic bags meat is sealed in, your invoices, etc can all be recycled. We thank you for doing your part, and for helping us do ours as we work toward as little waste as possible.
  • We recently changed the way we package large tomatoes! We moved from plastic clamshells to pulp containers in paper bags. This requires more labor from us, but we think it is worth it as one of many small steps we are committed to taking over time to reduce plastic packaging AND protect your food.

We are always looking for more solutions, and want to know what ideas you have to reduce environmental waste and build a sustainable world. Please let us know if you have ideas, information or celebrations for us. We thank you for doing your part to reduce, reuse and recycle!

What does Farmers To You take back for Reuse?

returnable glass milk bottles

Farmers To You takes back various items for reuse. This supports our farmer/vendor partners and our hub in reducing waste, and getting the most out of our materials. Please return the following items at your pick up site or leave them out for your delivery person:

  • Glass Milk bottles: (Strafford only) rinsed and air dried, no lids please. You get a credit for returned milk bottles, and Strafford sterilizes and reuses these bottles for their milk products.
  • Farmers To You bags: clean, tags removed. We reuse clean bags in good condition to package your food each week.
  • Farmers To You ice packs: defrosted is fine; we stick them back in the freezer when they get here.
  • Egg cartons (only those from FTY)
  • Plastic tomato clamshells
  • Packing materials from FTY if in good condition (cardboard, etc.)

Any other items - please recycle at home. We are very grateful for the recycling programs of the greater Boston area.

Updates from our Farmers & Producers:

  • Jericho Settlers has switched its packaging to recycled and recyclable plastic containers for all salad greens! Read more about this transition, and Jericho Settlers goals to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle on their blog.
  • We are in regular conversations with our farmers and producers about their packaging, plastic use and environmentally sustainable choices. We will continue to highlight ongoing improvements and commitments to reduce waste from the people who grow and produce the food our customers love.