Has nature already solved our plastic packaging problem?

Let’s face it; we’ve become spoiled with the conveniences of our modern world, thanks to enormous advances in agriculture, manufacturing and logistics.

Feeling a bit peckish? Just nip into Tescos for a sandwich, bag of crisps and Starbucks vanilla macchiato, all for the bargain price of 3 British pounds.

Like a growing number of consumers, I’m fed up with the sheer amount of single-use plastics we consume, of which the majority will end up in landfills, or worse, our oceans.

The great pacific garbage patch

Did you know there’s a plastic vortex floating between Hawaii and Canada that’s 3 times the size of France? Well, now you do – and it’s growing by the day.

Not only is this wreaking havoc for our fish friends, but over 100,000 sea mammals and 1m seabirds are killed each year due to ocean plastic.

Whilst our first port of call should be to reduce, reuse and recycle – we should also assume that the waste we produce may end up in the ocean, and so it’s time we shift to using materials that are both earth and ocean-friendly.

What is nature’s packaging?

Old Mother Nature, for all her flaws, gets many things right. The majority of fruits, nuts and vegetables we consume come pre-packaged to help protect their delicious nourishment.

Take the humble banana, wrapped in a thick, waxy skin with built-in easy-peel technology and state-of-the-art ripeness indicators, so you know the perfect time to tuck in. Once consumed, simply fling its leftover jacket under a tree where it will quickly break down and fertilise the earth, helping to grow future plants.

Sounds pretty perfect right? Then why, oh why, do we double package bananas in a plastic film that doesn’t get recycled, leaches toxins and provides little benefit to the protection of the product? Dare I say, it’s bananas?

Planet-friendly materials already exist!

Many excellent materials already exist that have the same properties as their plastic counterparts but break down quickly in natural environments. These include a fungus-based packaging that imitates styrofoam, or, in the case of the banana bag, there’s a starch-based transparent film that makes for a perfect replacement.

Whilst there are many alternatives to single-use plastics, they are much more difficult to source and come with a heftier price tag. The government has recently introduced a plastic tax, which will help a little in creating price parity, but we need to do much more in order to combat this plastic plague.

This is why at Kudo, we’ve made a pledge to ban single-use plastics from our Instant Marketplace, and will soon be releasing a range of packaging products using only planet-friendly materials.

We understand that it’s a formidable task to get consumers to change their consumption habits, so rather than taking away convenience, let’s make better choices in the materials we choose as a society.