Recently it has come to my attention that banana leaves are the new ‘IT’ product in the sustainable evolution. I can see why, they’re aesthetically pleasing and it’s all-natural it’ll biodegrade in a couple days. I wonder though if it’s actually good for the environment, would it be harmful or impact the environment negatively just to have a leaf wrap a sandwich for about a week? Even financially it can’t be beneficial when I can DIY my own wax paper to reuse time and time again as opposed to leaves that will die and probably wouldn’t be ideal to wrap food in. So as always I did my research to find out.
How Are Banana Leaves Harvested?
First question how do they even get these leaves? The obvious answer is from a banana tree. The leaves on a banana tree grow huge, from the video I watched they had some from the bay area that grew 5 feet tall, which is crazy to me. The leaves can be heated if they are stiff to help them loosen up and have multiple uses such as biodegradable plates, or food wrap, you can even cook food in them to add sweetness to your meal. They do start to die after a few days so you will have to replace them more frequently as opposed to washing off your aluminum foil, a huge selling point is the banana leaves biodegrade, unlike aluminum.
Are Banana Leaves Good For The Environment?
Overall this sounds like a good idea. You go to the store buy your leaves and bananas then compost the ones you don’t use #ZeroWasteLife. While you aren’t using any waste how does your purchase impact the environment? It’s pretty well known that bananas are one of the leading causes of deforestation in tropical rainforests. These plants are grown on plantations that ONLY grow bananas and they often clear out large parts of the rainforests to make these plantations. So while yes they’re zero waste are you helping or hurting? We all know that if the supply goes up for banana leaves then it’ll cause more deforestation so, in the long run, it’s not the most “green” option.
While I like the idea of using banana leaves in my kitchen because they’re available anywhere bananas are grown, they’re (initially) ecofriendly, aesthetically pleasing, clean, and grow very large so you can cut them into any shape or size you like. The only downside is in the long run if the demand goes up, ultimately we end up killing the rainforest for some wrapping paper. There are multiple reusable options like bamboo, paper, and cloths. If you’re in an area that bananas are grown or you have a plant or neighbor does and want to share some leaves them by all means go for it. But if you’re like me and live in the middle of a city where the most tropical thing you have is the garden center at Lowe’s you might want to reconsider something a bit more sustainable for your lifestyle. Living green is not a one size fits all deal, there are multiple ways to do it, and mother nature will thank you even for small changes but think wisely before jumping on the latest trend.