Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Extra Wrap for Bananas

How fruit is gaining another skin

fruitNewskinWhat to do with a fruit that already has its own protective skin? Why, wrap it in plastic, of course.

Bananas, known for their easy-to-peel yellow skins, are getting another layer, but this time in eco-unfriendly plastic. Individually-wrapped bananas could be the hottest trend if all goes well in 27 7-Eleven stores scattered throughout Dallas, Texas.

Fresh Del Monte created a special plastic wrap that keeps individual bananas from browning for five days, compared to the traditional 2-day lifespan of an unpackaged banana. Bananas ripen when exposed to oxygen, so this special plastic wrap prevents most oxygen from touching the banana, slowing the ripening process while maintaining freshness.

However, environmentalists have voiced concerns over these individually wrapped bananas, saying that extra plastic packaging is not sustainable and a waste for naturally-wrapped fruit. 7-Eleven has asked Fresh Del Monte to come up with eco-friendly packaging that is biodegradable. Fresh Del Monte’s VP of Marketing Dennis Christou responded by claiming that carbon emissions would decrease if banana shelf life extended, as less store deliveries would be needed.

This presents an interesting example of the trade-offs that being green creates. It’s difficult to determine who’s right on this one? In general, however, Sierra Club Green Home’s policy is the less plastic, the better.

Top Tips

  • Natural remedies to prevent bananas from browning

When shopping, skip the individually-wrapped and buy regular bananas instead. Most grocery stores don’t require you to buy a whole hand of bananas. This freedom allows you to buy as few as you need, preventing waste and excessive purchasing.

To slow down the process of ripening bananas, follow these simple tips

  • Look for greenish bananas with a hint of yellow, as they will ripen throughout the week

  • Cut them up into slices and freeze them. Bananas freeze very easily and last a long time if you put them in freezer bags. They can be used on cereal and are especially good for making smoothies or protein shakes.

  • Avoid placing bananas near the sun and fruits like apples and tomatoes

  • Hang bananas on a banana stand

  • What to do with brown bananas

One day passes by, two days pass by, soon it’s the end of week and there are still bananas sitting on the countertop. If you have leftover bananas from the week that are beginning to go south, instead of throwing them in the composter, follow these tips instead

  • Use bananas in smoothies

  • Make banana bread

  • Use bananas for all-natural face masks

Other Considerations

  • fruitNewskin2Impact of plastic to the environment. According to SCGH’s Paper or Plastic article , plastic bags do not break down completely into organic materials. They go through a process called photodegradation. This means that the plastic is broken down into smaller pieces which can gain mobility and relocation via water, wind, or wildlife. According to the EPA and The Ocean Conservancy, wildlife is significantly threatened by various plastics, including discarded bags.

  • Unnecessary packaging. Because of their thick skin, bananas are less susceptible to dirt. If nature provided us with fruit that can protect itself, why do we need to create a skin for them that is not kind to the environment?

Learn More

Paper or Plastic? BYOB

SCGH’s Recycling Center

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