Using banana leaves for packing vegetables and encouraging buyers to bring their own containers for groceries are some green ways city’s retailers are switching to, while saying no to plastics
City-based N. Pradeep Kumar and Prem Anthony, who run the Eco Indian, a zero waste organic store in Mylapore, found that the plastic packaging was not only harming the environment but was also responsible for shooting up the costs of a product. “Our store has been offering organic cereals, pulses and oils, etc. for the past year. We realised that we could significantly cut down the price of organic food if plastic packaging was avoided, while keeping the middlemen away while sourcing the products. So, we decided to connect with farmers’ communities across India, including women’s groups, to source all the goods. We also opted to sell them through glass jars and stainless steel containers, instead of wrapping them in plastic. These steps allowed us to keep the product costs lower than other organic stores,” Pradeep tells DT Next.
All the pulses, cereals and spices are stored in glass jars at the store and a buyer is encouraged to carry his or her own storage boxes while buying them. Cooking oils, which are stored in stainless steel containers, are sold in glass jars or in any container that a buyer carries to the store. “Through additional discounts, we are urging people to carry their own containers for daily groceries — which can reduce the waste. Zero waste stores aren’t a new concept and existed for many decades. Due to introduction of plastic, we forgot environment-friendly ways of living, which we want to bring back,” adds Pradeep.
Sanjay Dasari, the founder of SunnyBee stores, found a way to use banana leaves as packaging material for the vegetables offered at the retail outlets. “The idea of using banana leaves came to us as a feedback from buyers. After the story of a Thailand supermarket using banana leaves to wrap its vegetables went viral on social media, several of those who buy from us suggested that we take to similar packaging to eliminate plastic woes. Banana leaves can help in allowing the vegetables to retain their water content as veggies like carrots get dry even quicker. Using banana leaves also makes the packaging material less expensive than plastic,” Sanjay says.
Sustainability consultant Sudarshana Pai says one can reduce their waste on a daily basis significantly by being prepared before stepping out for the day. “One can carry a cloth bag for vegetables, groceries and a reusable egg carton — which cuts down the packaging to throw away. One can also analyse their waste at the end of the day to see what contributes to most of it and make necessary changes. A steel or bamboo straw, a reusable coffee cup, taking designated boxes from home while buying meats can reduce lots of plastic. Buying groceries in quantities required cuts down wastage,” she asserts.