Are Meal Kits Environmentally Friendly?
Are Meal Kits Environmentally Friendly?
In the last few years, meal kits have become more and more popular, and they are seen as a time-efficient and convenient way to provide a healthy, nutritious meal for the entire family.
Those who want to eat well but who don’t have the time (or inclination) to stand in the kitchen for hours, or who would rather use that time to relax and spend time doing anything other than cooking, might once have resorted to ready meals and takeaways.
However, in recent years, meal kits have emerged as an excellent alternative. They are pre-portioned and packaged and come with step-by-step guides on how to create delicious, diverse, and healthy meals. They’re even delivered directly to your door, saving you the trouble of going to the supermarket. What could be better?
Although meal kits do seem to solve a plethora of problems, there is one issue that some people feel is a big problem – meal kits may not be entirely environmentally friendly. Read on to find out whether this is the case, and what the potential solutions might be.
Are Meal Kits Sustainable?
Meal kits have often been seen as a truly sustainable alternative to traditional food preparation and shopping. This is because the recipient is given the exact measurements of the ingredients that they need to create their chosen dishes, and that means there is far less food waste than they would have had if they were not using a meal kit.
Another benefit of this is that it helps with portion control, and if you decide to stop using meal kits at any time, you’ll have a better idea of portion size and how to buy the right amount of food. This, in turn, will help prevent further waste.
However, although this is true, something that does need to be considered is the packaging that comes with meal kits. There will generally be more of it than if you had bought your food from the supermarket, because everything is packaged individually.
Add to this the insulation materials to keep the food fresh in transit, and you can see why some people are concerned. However, some meal kit companies are actively working to improve their packaging and explore more sustainable options, such as the use of recyclable or compostable materials.
What is the Environmental Impact of Meal Kits?
The environmental impact of meal kits extends beyond food or packaging waste (or lack of it). The transportation used to deliver the kits has to be thought about, for example, as this will contribute to carbon emissions, especially if one also accounts for the food miles the ingredients have travelled before they are even packaged up and sent on their way. Plus, the energy needed to store and refrigerate the ingredients can make the carbon footprint associated with meal kits even bigger.
The good news is that some meal kit companies have started prioritising local sourcing and implementing more efficient delivery methods to help minimise their environmental impact. You can therefore order fine dining meal kits and enjoy them in the knowledge that you will not be contributing to the destruction of the planet.
Can Meal Kits Be Ethical?
Making ethical decisions is important to a lot of people, and when it comes to meal kits, this is certainly going to play into a purchasing decision in one way or another.
There are actually a few different ethical concerns that can be linked to meal kits. One might be the treatment of the farmers and producers – it’s crucial to consider whether meal kit companies are paying fair wages or working with partners who do.
Knowing that the food itself is sourced ethically and sustainably is another important factor. You should look for meal kit companies that prioritise ethical sourcing, and that demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility.
Do Meal Kits Solve the Food Waste Issue?
One of the biggest claims that supporters of meal kits make is that the kits can help to tackle food waste by only providing exactly what is needed – there should be no waste at all (assuming people eat everything on their plate). This is true, and food waste is minimised at this level, but what about at the other end of the scale?
Meal kit companies will face their own challenges when it comes to food waste potentially arising as a consequence of cancelled orders or unused stock.
However, once again, there is a solution; some companies have implemented strategies to address this issue, such as donating excess food to charitable organisations or repurposing leftover ingredients for future meals. Consumers can also play a part by repurposing any leftover ingredients or properly composting the organic waste generated from meal kits.