Off to the markets with BYO bags
By Nastasia Campanella
Shopping for fruit and veg just got a whole lot more environmentally friendly with a new farmers market opting for a BYO bag policy.
Each Saturday, Taylor Square in Darlinghurst, Sydney, is host to a new farmers’ market selling fruit, vegetables, cakes and cheese.
The community initiative was established by Sydney Sustainable Markets, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own recyclable carry bags to take produce home in as a way of decreasing the amount of plastic used.
“We want to do everything we can to protect the environment and stop harmful materials going into landfill,” said Cathy Wills, market facilitator.
“We want people to bring their own bags and we’ve also set up a drop off station where bags can be given so that if people haven’t bought their own along with them, they can grab one off us.”
Some produce however, is sold in plastic, but Wills said those products have to be stored that way.
“Many products like meat and wheat need to be covered in plastic according to occupational health and safety regulations,” she said.
“Generally though, organic traders don’t like to sell things in plastic – they get the produce, weigh it and see if they can place it straight into the enviro bags or into a paper one.”
Markets have been popular in Sydney for decades, but Wills believes farmers’ markets are popping up everywhere because of an increasing appreciation for great food.
“It’s very hard to find good produce with integrity in the city,” she said.
“It’s extremely important that consumers are aware of the source of their products and these markets are great for farmers to get a fair dollar and most importantly, to ensure independence in the industry and competitive prices.”
Wills said she hoped the public sourced beautiful food at a great price.
“We’ll be starting up sessions soon teaching consumers about how to go organic and how to live in a more sustainable way so we are hoping people can walk away from our market with knowledge as well.”
Running the farmers market in Darlinghurst is quite a task as the area is very busy on weekends.
Andrew Duckmanton, Vice President of the Darlinghurst Business Partnership said parking was a concern.
“In the first week of the markets, we haven’t seen parking as being a problem for the community, but its still early days yet.”
He said he didn’t feel the Council put enough expressions out into the community as to the best operation for the event.
“What we’re concerned about is the fact Council hasn’t spoken with the community about what they think a market operator should do,” he said.
“I think Council should have worked harder to investigate where it should have been held and how it would work.”
The market, which runs from 8.00am till 1.00pm each Saturday, attracted 500 people in its first day on May 4.
Wills said crowds were diverse.
“We’ve got your young, 30 something professionals, uni students, young families with kids and the homeless people who are regularly found in Taylor Square,” she said.
“The atmosphere is quite beautiful, there is a real community spirit about people chatting to the farmers and browsing.”