The well-known Glebe institution, Galluzzo Fruiterers, is arguably the greenest greengrocer in Sydney.
From buying the produce and serving the customers to dealing with the inevitable waste, Joe and Damien Galluzzo are striving to be as green as possible.
Joe and Damien are the third generation of the family to run the shop. Joe said ‘we are always trying to work out a way to reduce the packaging, reduce the carry bags being used.’ After watching the ‘War on Waste’1 series on ABC TV, Joe was inspired to go one step further and ask customers to recycle the plastic containers that produce like berries is sold in. ‘The odd person would do it previously, but a lot more are doing it now.’
Joe admits that reducing the use of plastic is challenging. ‘The produce comes packaged from the markets, you can’t stop that. What they can do is clean the plastic containers and use them for their seconds stock. People aren’t worried so much what it looks like, it is just selling the stock. We are using up the packaging that way and it is working.’
At the front counter, customers are encouraged to use paper bags, or to pack their purchases in boxes or their own carry bags. Galluzzos also sell ‘Fruity Sacks’2,reusable bags for fruit and vegetables, that were designed by a customer. Damien said ‘she was one of the originals. After that show [‘War on Waste’] a couple of weeks ago we can’t keep up with them. Everyone is interested.’
They do stock single-use plastic bags. ‘We have to, but we discourage people from using them.’ Joe admits there is a fine line between serving the customers and reducing the use of plastic. ‘I can’t say, ‘No you can’t have it’, because then they will say, ‘Oh, I can get it down the road’. I can encourage it, I can explain why it is a better thing not to use plastic but at the end of the day if the person is adamant about it they will get one.’
‘I had a customer the other day go ‘I need it for my rubbish bin, if I don’t take this I have to buy plastic” so I am supplying rubbish bin bags!’ Joe laughs, adding ‘At least she is reusing it.’3
In the past the Galluzzos have given customers calico bags as Christmas presents.
Joe is reluctant to make money from something he saw as a gift, but he is reconsidering stocking and selling them.
Galluzzos’ environmental consciousness begins at the wholesale markets, with the personal relationships the family has built with growers over the generations. They prefer to buy produce grown in the larger Sydney region. ‘Because A. you know it hasn’t travelled far and B. you know the person growing it, so you can ask them questions you can’t ask a market agent.’
‘We know 99 per cent of our local market growers, we speak to them, you are constantly on the phone to them or talking face to face.’
The shop is currently stocking local silver beet and leafy greens, root vegetables, including beetroot, parsnips and dutch carrots, pumpkins and lemons.
In the ‘War on Waste’ program the presenter, Craig Reucassel, visited a banana farm where a huge quantity of bananas was being mulched because they didn’t fit the tight supermarket specifications. Under their contract, the farmer was not permitted to sell them elsewhere.
But it is a different situation with the growers Joe deals with, who have far more flexibility. He also has customers who are less concerned about the appearance. ‘We have outlets, like restaurants, who are only going to chop something up, who are after something that is cost effective. If you have a couple of days up your sleeve (after talking to the grower about the less-than-perfectly-shaped product) before that stock comes along, you can talk to the restaurants and say that is coming.’
Galluzzos used to put out five or six Sulo bins overloaded with rubbish every day. But that is now down to one and a half or two. ‘We have a compacter for the cardboard, so all our cardboard gets taken away for free. And we have a vegetable mulcher’. The mulcher processes all their green waste, then pumps it into a holding tank. The whole process is computerised. ‘Every so often a truck turns up and pumps it out and they use it for fertiliser.’
Wax and foam cartons are returned to the growers, and the restaurants also return them.
‘We are always looking to see how we can fix things up,’ Joe says. ‘Even the way you talk to a customer makes a difference. Instead of saying, ‘Would you like a bag?’ I say ‘Are you OK with that?’ In other words I make them make the choice. They go, “No thanks, I’m OK”.’