The Problem with Packaging

If you haven’t heard, you can’t cook in our packaging. Unlike all of the leading backpacking food brands, we don’t use heavy-duty plastic to package our food. Instead, we use compostable material made from sugarcane, which means that the pouches aren’t waterproof.

It turns out that lots of backpackers like to cook in the pouch.

...and I get it! Minimizing weight on the trail is a big deal, and it can be a little bit more cumbersome to have to carry extra vessels for rehydration. There's an apparent tension between our desire to make it easier for people to eat well outside, and our commitment to minimizing our environmental impact.

The "Environmental Stewardship" part of our mission reads:

"As an outdoor-oriented company, we consider it our obligation to act as stewards for the environment. Through our product offerings, marketing campaigns, and operations management, we pledge to keep the environment upon which we rely at the forefront of our minds and business practices."

...and yet we also don't want our product to present any barriers for our customers.

In the interest of being transparent with anyone considering our product, I wanted to take some time to articulate why we’ve committed to using compostable or biodegradable packaging, and to offer some suggestions for cooking on the trail when you can’t cook in the bag. It may seem like in this instance we've chosen environmental stewardship over the convenience of adventurers. But I'm going to try to make the case that compostable packaging isn't just the better choice for the environment, it might also be the better choice for you, personally. When it comes to the caring for the environment and your own convenience, maybe you don't have to choose!

Over the next month I’ll be writing a four-part series on [drumroll] packaging choices! Part I will deal with the problem of plastic packaging, Part II will address how compostable packaging can be part of the solution, Part III will go through some cooking tips for wilderness adventures, and Part IV will address some of the ongoing issues we face as a company trying to make conscious choices.

We’re also running a social media campaign in April called #tfclosestheloop, aimed at bringing some awareness to the impact that adventurers have on the wilderness they love. We hope that talking about packaging will make us all a little bit more environmentally sensitive as we hit the trails this summer. (If you’re following along with us on Instagram, be on the lookout for a sweet #tfclosestheloop giveaway at the end of April!)

I hope we'll see you back here tomorrow for Part I! 

Do you cook in the bag in the wilderness? Is that quality in an outdoor food product important to you? How do you cook in the wilderness? And how does plastic waste figure into your own choices as a consumer?