The virtues of going plastic-free are well-known, with a growing number of governments, supermarkets and ordinary people adopting plastic-free alternatives, including developing new kinds of packaging altogether.
Looking to create compostable packaging with natural materials, Polish designer Roza Janusz has developed Scoby, which is grown through the same fermentation process that eventually creates kombucha, a fizzy, fermented tea drink that has quite a few health benefits.
Using a symbiotic "mother" culture of bacteria and yeast (acronym SCOBY -- hence the project's name), these pieces of biodegradable and edible packaging can be used to store dry and semi-dry foods like seeds, nuts, herbs and salad. By wrapping foods in Scoby, it prolongs the time food can be stored, while leaving behind a membrane that can be either returned to the earth or eaten along with the food. As Janusz tells Dezeen:
Packaging production will no longer litter the environment but enrich it. The material is compostable and nutritious to our gut or the soil because of its healthy bacteria. It is a product of fermentation and has a low pH, which prevents food from wasting.
To create the translucent packaging, Janusz grows it in a shallow container with sugary liquid that holds this culture of bacteria and yeast. Bits of agricultural waste are added in over a period of two weeks, and it is left to ferment at around room temperature without the need for direct sunlight. After two weeks, thin membranes grow as a shield against oxygenation, and these membranes can then be placed in molds to shape them to whatever foods they need to hold.
The idea here is that in order to move toward a more plastic-free world, packaging should not be thought of as something that's single-use, but rather something that could be grown and therefore integrated into the process of agricultural production, says Janusz:
The farmer is more and more an engineer and the farm becomes a factory. Growing materials has become more and more popular in design, so maybe growing things is closer and easier than we think.
Though it would take some effort to get used to the idea of eating packaging, the idea is a compelling one, one that we've seen before. Pair that concept with the tasty appeal of kombucha, and we might have a winning combination. For more, visit Roza Janusz and Instagram.