News Home & Design One-A-Day Bananas: Genius at Work or Waste of Packaging? (Survey) By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated October 11, 2018 Promo image. e-market one-a-day bananas Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices Mark at BoingBoing says "This is the way to sell bananas - a pack with a spectrum of ripeness levels." Everybody is talking about it; Elizabeth at Kitchn describes it as "the only way bananas should be sold". The first banana in the pack is perfectly ripe and ready to eat right away, the next is a little less ripe, but will probably be ready to slice over your cereal the following morning. All the way on the right, the last banana is bright green and nowhere near ripe enough to eat. But by the time you get through the other bananas, that one will be perfect. All of this comes from a tweet: My first thought on seeing it was that bananas already come in a perfect package- a peel, totally biodegradable and compostable. It's the last product that needs a disposable plastic container. Almost a decade ago, we called wrapping bananas packaging design at its worst. Del Monte Bananas/Promo image In another post on Del Monte packaged bananas, I couldn't decide whether it should be tagged wretched excess or greenwash watch. But in a very fresh post about wasted fruits and vegetables Katherine notes: Bananas, for example, took the prize for waste in terms of total volume and for climate impact. Being a tropical fruit that's flown to markets all around the world, its carbon footprint is large and turnover is high. People buy a lot of bananas because they're cheap and easy to eat, but they have a short window for optimal ripeness, which leads to shoppers to reject those that are overly brown. These are hard choices. Del Monte actually defended their banana wrapping as a way of reducing waste; the packages used CRT [“Controlled Ripening Technology”]. Their VP of marketing told Forbes: The primary purpose of the CRT banana technology is to extend the shelf life of the product without using any artificial preservatives or other chemicals or gasses but rather by regulating the product’s natural respiration rate. By achieving this, bananas can now be sold in venues, such as convenience stores, cafeterias and school vending machines, offering consumers a fresh and healthy alternative to the typical snacks linked to the growing obesity epidemic in many western societies. In the past, this alternative was not possible due to the highly perishable nature of bananas and the unwillingness of the retailer or vending operator to absorb high losses due to overripe product. This new packaging from Korea theoretically reduces waste because you get one ripening banana per day, which should reduce waste, particularly when more and more people are living alone and would like their bunch of bananas to last all week. On the other hand, bananas do not need to be perfect to eat, a bit of brown never hurt anyone. As Katherine noted in her post Stop the war on imperfect bananas! It’s an argument I sometimes have with my kids when they come home from school, a blackened banana still in their lunch bags: “That black spot does not mean it’s bad!” I peel it open to show that the inside is just fine, and then they’re happy to munch away. You can always turn them into banana bread or many other things, they do not have to go into the composting bin. As Katherine notes: There are so many ways to use old bananas. Think of them as your best friend in the kitchen, a magic bullet solution to make everything from curry to pancakes taste like a million bucks. AlanH20/CC BY 2.0 Then Melissa tells us that they are good for a whole lot more than just eating. Instead, everyone is excited about putting them in plastic boxes, a solid fossil fuel, often ending up in the ocean or the landfill. The whole idea is silly; there are somewhere between 7 and a million ways to use bananas. If you shop carefully and buy what you need, they can all get eaten or used in a reasonable time. But judging by all the raving headlines saying things like Bananas have been solved, I wonder if I am alone. What do you think? One-a-day bananas: Genius at work or waste of packaging?