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Shopper sparks debate after questioning produce price disparity in grocery store: 'Maybe less people would buy it...'

"It's been like that for at least 40 years, in my experience."

"It’s been like that for at least 40 years, in my experience."

Photo Credit: iStock

Excessive plastic packaging is a growing trend in produce aisles at grocery stores across the country. It's frustrating to many shoppers who have taken to social media to share especially obnoxious examples. 

One Redditor just gave a side-by-side comparison of the packaged and unpackaged tomatoes at their local store. 

What happened? 

The original poster shared their observation in r/Anticonsumption. "Charging extra for pointless plastic waste," they complained.

To illustrate the problem, they shared two photos: one of tomatoes on the stem being sold loose, and one of the same product being sold on a styrofoam tray wrapped in cellophane. The loose tomatoes cost $1.49 a pound, and the packaged tomatoes cost $2.99 a pound. 

"They should charge even more for the plastic waste. Maybe less people would buy it," said one commenter.

"It's been like that for at least 40 years, in my experience."
Photo Credit: Reddit
"It's been like that for at least 40 years, in my experience."
Photo Credit: Reddit

Why is the plastic packaging a big deal?

While one or two sheets of plastic might not seem like much, packaging on produce adds up. Thousands of buyers across the country, all choosing the tomatoes in the plastic wrap, clog up landfills and result in more plastic litter making its way into the environment.

Styrofoam, in particular, is a problem because it leaches harmful chemicals into the food that people eat. Some cities and states have banned styrofoam for this reason.

Plus, as more than one commenter pointed out, the packaged tomatoes are more than double the price of the loose ones, meaning this practice is also a waste of money for the buyer. 

Is the company doing anything about this?

One user speculated that the huge jump in price was a purposeful choice by the company. "Isn't that to encourage people to buy their fruit and veg loose? It's been like that for at least 40 years, in my experience," said the Redditor.

If that's the case, the company has taken some steps to reduce plastic waste. However, another commenter declared that this wasn't enough. 

"We could encourage customers to buy them loose by not having workers spend time wrapping them up in the first place. If the price is a deterrent, not offering it should be a stronger one," they said.

What can I do to help reduce plastic waste?

If you enjoy gardening, growing your own tomatoes and other produce is a way to ensure that your food is plastic-free. You can even use eco-friendly gardening hacks to cut down costs and increase your harvest. 

You can also purchase and frequently use reusable shopping bags and find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle when possible, with the first two being the most important. 

When you're shopping, choose brands that have less packaging whenever possible. While you're at it, try to buy local to minimize shipping distances, since trucks and trains carrying produce create air pollution.

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