Thursday, August 25, 2022

Blue Apron

            Our neighbors, Rick and Sandy, gave us five free meals from Blue Apron. The way the company works, if you subscribe, is that you select from their menu offerings and then they send you the ingredients through FedEx, all premeasured with clearly written instructions, including some photos. Follow the instructions and you have a meal in less than an hour.


            We were skeptical at first, but our situation has changed. Yes, we can get all the ingredients at the grocery store, but we are getting older, and it helps not to have to hunt for things we’ve never heard of, probably in more than one store, or to worry about what to do with the bottle of anything once you have used the three tablespoons in the recipe. Blue Apron sends us the exact right amount, so there is no need to measure. Convenience is a big plus.


            We also enjoyed our Blue Apron meals because they taste great – at least, the few we have tried. And they introduced us to new things, such as bok choi or roasted radishes. A lot of the vegetables were roasted, some of which ended up in salads. Yum.


            Kim and I also enjoyed the process of working together in the kitchen. Usually that meant I would be reading the directions aloud, turning on the oven, washing and drying the fresh vegetables, and maybe even chopping or dicing them, and putting the trimmings into our compost bucket. By our third Blue Apron experience, Kim even let me get near the stove.


            And yet . . . we have cancelled our subscription. Why? The packaging. To keep the meat or fish fresh it has to be kept cold, which means the box is insulated and some sort of cooling source has to be included in the box. The insulated cardboard is, we think, too complex a combination for the recyclers to handle, but the real problem is the frozen gelatinous material in plastic bags. The recycling instructions are to let it thoroughly thaw out before dumping it down the drain, but we just don’t want that stuff in our septic system. And all of those carefully pre-measured ingredients, including the delicious sauces, come in little plastic bags. We are not big fans of plastic, and we realize that not all plastic can be readily recycled. We ended up taking most of our Blue Apron packaging to our recycling dumpster about 15 miles from our house, but we don’t feel good about asking the folks going through what we dumped to deal with those bags of gel. And then there’s all the energy involved in getting the meals to our door.


            Our decision to unsubscribe has created some very mixed feelings. Yes, what we decided is good for the planet, and it’s important that we take even a small step to do our share. It feels “right,” despite all the positives we had experienced. On the other hand, I think of all the shit that goes down the drain and into our septic system, all the small items like used toothpaste tubes that I send to the landfill, and I think of the gas mileage of the Jeep I am leasing. What a small difference our little Blue Apron decision means to the planet! Does our contribution to environmental organizations offset that Blue Apron coolant? Maybe we could just get a delivery once a month instead of once a week.


            Three days after writing the above, I decided to renew my Blue Apron subscription. My research (JFGI) led me to conclude that the packaging could largely be recycled, and the gel could safely go down the drain if we thawed it thoroughly. Perhaps this is the kind of rationalization that is leading to the decline of our planet. I just don’t know. But I do hope that this might be a small step toward easing Kim’s late-afternoon fatigue, and I may even learn to cook. 

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