An old Nigerian Proverb says, “An old banana leaf was once young and green.” As they get older, they might look wrinkled and shriveled, but the truth is a banana leaf is a big, lush green leaf when young that is used in banana leaves packaging. It is thick, glossy and attractive and can be found in many countries around the world. Not only can you use it in many ways, but it is even beautiful enough to look at. But this article is not going to focus on the outer look of a banana leaf, instead will be focusing on a recent trend in Eco-friendly packaging design that was observed in Asia, and excited everyone!
In the current year of 2019, where everybody is now extremely focused on climate change and ways to help heal mother earth. We have destroyed nature for years, and to the point that some damages are irreversible.
Now, when we are seeing visible effects of what we have done, we have begun to collectively think about reversing some of the damages or trying to stop causing more. Many people are taking solid steps to try and help in this cause.
As many other industries, packaging industry has also been seeing a huge trend and rise in use of sustainable products rather than the traditional plastic materials.
The reason is to reduce overall cost and to avoid using plastic. Do you know how many years does it take for one plastic to decompose? How harmful it can be for oceans and seas, and aquatic life?
Therefore, a lot of businesses have started to put thought into replacing your usual with something unique and useful.
For many people and brands, the mere thought of substituting something creative is fun and exciting. Even big companies like Forbes are ready to join this movement.
In reality, we are going back to our routes by using leaves as our packaging materials. Now that the companies are implementing this old tradition, they are seeing a lot of successful results.
Using Banana leaves for Custom Packaging:
If we compare banana leaves with any other material, we will see that they are clean, firm and water tight. One big factor to note is that Bananas are one of the biggest crops in the whole word, so they are easily available all year around. In ancient culture, they were used for storing a lot of things. These thick leaves which have the ability to hold a lot of water and moisture inside them do not degrade so easily, so they are good enough to save any type of food items.
This also means that a lot of cultures and countries will actually not find it something so different to use and will easily adapt and switch to it. When you introduce something different, it takes a lot of effort to make sure it is accepted readily by the locals and used also.
If you compare the cost of plastic to typical banana leaves, you will find that banana leaves are actually much more cheaper in price. Plus, it tropical climates it is quite easily available and you can easily find the desired quantity and amount of it.
In other parts of the world, where the climate is temperate, the bananas might be harder to find and this option may become a little more expensive.
Nevertheless, if you do not have banana leaves option, you can definitely use any recyclable or earth-friendly option which is better than using plastics.
If you see the history, you will see that banana leaves have been using continuously throughout it in many ways. In regions like Mexico, a lot of items were wrapped in banana leaves.
Hawaii locals also use it to roast pigs so that the pigs can be protected from the hot rocks of lava. In Southeast Asia, they are used very commonly to store a local delicacy that is called sticky rice. Hence they can be seen commonly used in Thailand also.
A few advantages of using Banana Leaves:
As more and more companies are becoming aware of the products they are using and what role are they playing for the earth, they are moving away from using plastics in everything. Especially in packaging, where plastic play a vital role, they are now replacing them with biodegradable packaging.
We know that banana leaves are easily available and 100% sustainable. As soon as you throw it away, it starts to discard on its own and actually serves as a fertilizer for the soil. Some other benefits include:
- They are cheap enough to buy. In tropical climates bananas are readily available and grow everywhere. In other countries, they might be scarce, but still cheaper. They can grow easily and continuously grow on the existing plant. You can easily grab from any tree you like and use them.
- Their size is big enough to hold and contain any type of item. Even if you want to wrap any bigger food item, that can be done. They can easily be wrapped to contain the item inside.
- It is extremely easy to clean them since they are water-proof. They cannot be damaged by moisture and can be cleaned easily. If you use any other leaves, it will actually be damaged while cleaning and end up becoming non-usable. This is a good point as this makes banana leaves hygiene friendly.
- They also look pretty. Banana leaves have a lush green colour which they can easily retain to make them look super fresh even if they are cut out of the tree since many days.
- Banana leaves can easily degrade and become natural compost. You do not need to treat it before throwing it off, so it becomes easier to discard it. After sometime it actually starts to become natural fertilizer for the soil.
- The best part is that these leaves are naturally available and do not need any sort of chemical enhancement or treatment. If you simply clean it, they will start looking glossy and healthy. Some leaves require a layer of wax to look fresh and shiny. This is beneficial for people who are looking for something organic and untreated, as it poses no side effects on health as well.
They are also light in weight, look attractive and healthy. People who are not fine with using plastics can easily replace it with using biodegradable items, as no chemical or by-product will travel into the food as it is a natural item.
Some Other Eco-Friendly Options to Consider:
So far we have concluded how important and beneficial banana leaves can be to pack your food items. As many countries around the globe are starting to ban plastics, companies are trying to work on creating and finding more alternatives that are beneficial. Some other items that you can use instead of leaves include:
- Paper packing: sustainable paper are products which can also be used for packing instead of plastics. Initially plastic was created to take some load off the paper industry, but now more companies are using paper as it has proved to be a better option for the earth.
- Reusable packing: A lot of packaging items are disposable which means they are thrown after use. Instead of that, companies have started to invest into packaging that can be reused. The biggest benefit of such products is that they require only one time investment. You need to buy this type of packing once only. Companies can also offer incentives like discounts on returning with a reusable item, so that the cycle can stay intact.
- Bamboo packing: Bamboo is one crop that grows very fast and is also earth friendly. It is a type of grass that is commonly found, and grows much faster than trees.. It is used to pack any type of material easily, used as alternative as well.
Globally, we can see a huge waste problem. Companies and government need to do something about it on a much bigger scale now. A lot of countries are taking serious precautions against it. You need to make valid changes which can be practiced efficiently to help play a part in making big changes. Packaging industry also needs a big makeover as they are one of the biggest industries which use a lot of plastic on a daily basis.
This article focused on introducing a new aspect of packaging – using leaves as a material. The best part is that these items are being used traditionally in many countries around the world. So, there will be an easier conversion to it as many people already implement it. These banana leaves are easily found worldwide, they are cheaper than your usual plastic, and also look attractive. They are also natural products so there is less harm to the food. All in all, it is one of the best alternatives you can use.