The Rimping supermarket in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, inspires a new method of eco-friendly packaging for supermarkets. Going against typical plastic packaging, Rimping supermarket was spotted bundling their vegetables such as spring onions, broccoli, lettuce, and cucumbers, in banana leaves.
Due to the tropical climate, banana plants are very common plants in Southeast Asian countries that grow all year round, making banana leaves a sustainable and affordable substitute to plastic.
What makes them even more suitable for plastic replacement is the fact that banana leaves are also waterproof, humidity-proof, and free of toxins and dyes. The most important part is that these leaves are biodegradable as they are made out of 100% natural product. The leaf-packaging are also held together with a piece of bamboo, another renewable resource. Although the supermarket has not found a way to remove the use of plastic tape for attaching product labels such as price and barcodes yet, it is definitely a great step towards environmental awareness.
Banana plants are also prevalent in many other countries around the world such as India, China, Philippines, and Australia to name a few. Perhaps other local supermarkets can take inspiration and start using banana leaf packaging too.
However, it is important to not quickly conclude that banana leaves are the permanent solution to the supermarket plastic packaging problem. Any large demand or production can be a danger to the environment, even if it is banana leaves.
An example is the large banana plantations in Latin America and Africa that are commonly sold for export. The banana industry sometimes requires hazardous chemicals that cause major pollution for water supplies that harm worker health.
Furthermore, the monoculture productions methods can cause irreversible damage to the ecosystems. Although less in quantity, small scale productions are a much more sustainable option. Taking everything into account, a worldwide swap to banana leaves may not be a permanent solution, but it is still definitely a better alternative to plastic.
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