Nature has had millions of years to come up with perfect natural packaging solutions — brilliant designs made from elements as simple as water, sun and nutrients that keep liquids wet, protect cargo during transportation, and prevent mold or insects from getting in. The purpose of our Packaging the Future series is to highlight how we can use nature’s examples to make low-impact designs for better packaging, and so far I’ve focused more on the pipe-dream than the practical. This week is different; banana leaves are a packaging solution that has existed for thousands of years, still exists today, and that could benefit the environment by simply expanding their use to new areas.
Traditionally, the leaves of the banana tree are used most often as (quite dynamic and attractive) serving vessels for everyday meals in South Indian and Filipino cuisine. Hindus and Buddhists both use the leaves for religious ceremonies and offerings, and the fully biodegradable and bright green leaves are used as trays of sorts. But that’s not all!
Banana leaves are said to impart a special flavor to foods and can even be used to steam food, especially cha lua, a Vietnamese sausage. Banana leaf rice is a dish unto itself in South Indian cooking, and it’s usually served with a vegetarian curry.
Lead photo by Madhawa Habarakada