How banana leaves can save our planetby Leela Galvez
I read an article about a supermarket in Thailand that is wrapping the produce they sell in banana leaves instead of plastic wrap. The exposure has gone viral and I now read or see about it, daily. A developing country. An act that has actually been done over decades in the past in remote areas who have less exposure to modern world technologies and the pollution that comes with it.
The more I read about the concept, the more it made sense to me. It reduces single-use plastic; reduces the need for plastic; it is a material that is large, strong and malleable; dependent on the location, banana leaves are in huge supply, readily available and cost-free and in tropical and sub-tropical climates, this material would be the most suitable biodegradable product for many countries to use.
Given that wrapping items in banana leaves has a very long history in many, many countries, why are we still using plastic wrap? We have a strong enough following in the world to make changes, so it seems interesting to me that something so simple has not been adopted already (at least in countries where it is actually viable). This would include Australia, right?
I had a conversation with people just recently about some cultures using plastic as a means of proving their wealth. In one area of India that I visited, I asked why there was piles of rubbish left in the front of houses. I was shocked to hear that by having the waste material left there for people to see, it meant that it could be observed by others that the residents of that property were able to afford such food. Well....one reason, I guess.
I personally love my village life in Ghana where everything we prepare and cook comes straight from our farms, dried, milled into flour and then made into a starchy carb meal that would feed many mouths. No plastic. For the life of me, I am still not sure why the developed countries are not following suit except to satisfy the financial and political backings of governments and huge conglomerates to continue making a mountain of money.
We are so forward and yet so backward. We are so progressive and yet still behind. And here we have countries like Thailand showing us an alternative that makes so much sense and gives utilisation to something that can be grown in abundance and for free. Perhaps we all need to take trips to these parts of the world and look at how their cultures manage.
It will expand our minds and expose us to many things that we could all adopt in our everyday lives. In the Philippines, I had the pleasure of attending the ‘Best Vegan Desserts’ Competition in Manila. I had an even greater pleasure meeting a lady called Aging, who is serving her delicacies in banana leaves, practicing non-cruelty to animals and being kind to the earth. Now, that is what I call sharing the love. In a delicious and plastic-free way!
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