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Photo by: Jomiro Eming
Photo by: Jomiro Eming

It’s time to grow a Little Garden!

By Jomiro Eming

Checkers never disappoints with their collectibles, but the new fad collectibles, Little Garden, are taking the country by storm – and they are the most environmentally friendly venture we’ve seen from our grocers to date.

Even though the driving force behind this eco-conscious initiative is still the omnipresent, capitalist, profit-obsessed business model, there are some positive things to be said about this “we love the environment!” banner being hung from franchise to franchise.

In case you haven’t seen them yet, the collectibles are essentially a mini-gardening kit for all ages with 24 seedlings in total; 8 flowers, 8 veggies, and 8 herbs. Each little planter comes with a biodegradable cardboard plant-pot, a compressed soil pod, and a set of collectible seedlings. It also includes a step-by-step planting guide (which I can confirm is dead simple to follow), as well as a “how to” care and repotting guide. Novelty additions include a pop-out sign-post which you can use to remember what you’ve grown in which pot, as well as a little sticker to see what you’ve collected so far. All-in-all, for spending R150 on groceries in exchange for one, I don’t think they could have made gardening any easier.

Photo: sourced from the Checkers website
Photo: sourced from the Checkers website

From the offset, Checkers deserves a standing ovation. I’m all for righting-one’s-wrongs, and when you the think about the cost and waste involved in making their mini Little Shop collectibles, this turnaround approach is an admirable and noble one.

Not only does it pump less plastic into the environment in both the production and consumption phases, it also has the potential for a “giveback” into the cycle: the customer buys groceries, gets seedlings, plants seedlings, cares for herbs and veggies, the customer continues growing plants into a sustainable veg-patch to feed household the family and as a result the customer needs to spend less money on groceries each month.

A selfless gesture indeed, but Checkers is really laying the groundwork for them to spend less on wasted fresh produce if everyone can grow their own. They save money by buying less stock that might just get thrown away, we save money on food we grow ourselves, and the world saves on food wastage – it’s a win-win situation, albeit coming from a self-serving purpose.

This kind of collectible is also far more positive on education of young children. With these seedling kits, children (and even adults) can learn about growing plants from seeds – a skill that anyone can benefit from throughout their lives!

Little Garden re-directs some much-needed attention to the environment, as well as gets kids outdoors again, and away from technology, to learn about the world around them alongside their siblings, parents, and friends.

I can’t help thinking that Checkers could still be doing even more for the environment that a limited edition collectible garden, but this is really by far the closest we’ve come to a sustainable, eco-conscious, “long-term vision” initiative from a massive cooperate establishment.

I would encourage everyone to try their hands at these kits. It might not be a step taken with full conviction that the environment needs from every major cooperation, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Capitalist or not, people are being given the means to start their own vegetable gardens, and children are being encouraged to go outside again, and play in the dirt.

Yes, we’re being invited to spend more money at Checkers, but this time there’s a reward and a sense of achievement being offered as well. Maybe it’ll flop, maybe it’ll inspire other chains to follow suit, but I’ve just planted my cress and my radishes, and I’m childishly giddy at the thought of seeing some little sprouts in the next few days.

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