Of the 9 billion tonnes of plastic produced every year, what are you doing to improve upon the 9% which is only currently being recycled?!
That’s exactly what the Rimping supermarket in Chiang Mai thought, before coming up with an ingenious way to reduce the amount of plastic used to package their fruit and veg…
Yep, that’s right… they’ve used banana leaves to wrap fresh produce.
The use of banana leaves instead of plastic is a great way for the supermarket to reduce single-use plastic, whilst also adding an element of tradition and charm to the product. Traditionally, banana leaves are used alongside food throughout many parts of the world, from roasting pigs in Hawaii to wrapping sticky rice in South East Asia.
Typically, products packaged in plastic throughout Western supermarkets such as peppers, spring onions, chillies, beans, cucumbers and oranges have a tendency to cause widespread controversy. Why must something already perfectly packaged by Mother Nature need extra wrapping and protection?
Well, it’s these products that have been targeted and stripped of their outer plastic film/bag. By removing the plastic, these items are then wrapped in a banana leaf and secured using a piece of bamboo. As a material, banana leaves are a fantastic alternative because they are large, thick and supple enough to be folded and manipulated around the product itself.
One major elephant in the room is the cost of banana leaves vs. plastic. In these locations around the world, where banana trees are more readily available, the desired leaves could easily be gathered for free and distributed as required. However, in countries where bananas are not grown, these leaves could be more expensive than plastic. But surely that opens the doorway to creativity and looking at what alternative biodegradable products are available in multiple countries around the world.
By 2050 the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills, the environment, and the ocean. So in this instance, we need to show a huge amount of respect and appreciation to Rimping, who dare to be different and have already started to make a difference!