Don’t you realize that our disposable eating utensils and dishes contribute a lot of pollutants to this planet? In example, we can name take-away food packaging, plastic bottle, plastic straw, plastic chopstick, and many others.
The question is, why hasn’t such kind of thing become a problem since decades ago? Why does it seem like a new problem to face just nowadays? The answer might be as simple as this: because those disposable eating utensils and dishes are modern day products.
Yes, almost all the things littering our environment in the form of eating utensils and dishes have just been mass-produced in the last century. Before that, people had eco-friendlier habits in eating. Not only they preferred to eat food where it was cooked, but they also used eco-friendlier eating utensils and dishes.
Wait, don’t you realize that I have mentioned about ‘eco-friendlier dishes’ too many times? Well, maybe it’s because this is exactly the topic we are going to talk about in this article. Yes, let’s talk about plates made of leaves and its environmental benefits.
As we mentioned above that we are going to talk about eco-friendlier dishes made of leaves, maybe it is best if we talk about how disposable dishes are destroying our environment. Disposable dishes have become a lifestyle nowadays, especially for busy people.
The demand for disposable dishes grows bigger as more people get busy from time to time. To make eating more convenience, disposable dishes are favored, because it eliminates the necessity to wash it and stay in place to eat.
Most disposable dishes are made of plastic or paper, which make them responsible for the destruction of the nature. Plastic is simply hard to decompose, and paper is made of cut down trees. And millions of them are being disposed every day after a single use.
Every day we are simply littering our planet with millions of disposable dishes, and it is predicted that the consumption of disposable dishes will keep on growing day by day. Does it mean that we are going to destroy this planet even harder just by eating more?
That’s not simply the case, because actually we have the option to stop this destructive eating habit. One of which is by eating in place, but it seems hard to do for busy people as mentioned above. So, what about eco-friendlier dishes?
Ancient People’s Wrap
To find the solution of this problem, we don’t need to push ourselves forward to the future with sophisticated inventions that sounds like sci-fi movie stuff. Instead, we should look back to the wisdom of our ancestors.
What did our ancestor use when they needed disposable dishes? The answer is leaves. It has the flexibility of a wrap, and strong enough to contain foods. Those features are pretty much the reasons why leaves were used to wrap food.
But as our ancestors used leaves as their food container when they needed a disposable one, in some parts of the world this kind of habit has not gone. In example, in tropical countries like Indonesia, the habit of using banana leaves to wrap food up is still common.
If you ever visit Asian countries, you should have witnessed how people are still using leaves as food wrap there. What’s wrapped in leaves are not only traditional snacks, but also staple foods and meals that the people are eating every day.
Not only banana leaf, there are other kinds of leaves that ancient people used for food wrap. In example, ancient people also used oval leaves of jackfruit, lotus leaves, and bastard teak leaves to wrap their food.
The main reason why leaves are still used in some parts of the world as a wrap is because leaves pretty much fulfill the requirements to be used as wrap, as mentioned above. But that’s not all, since leaves naturally has several beneficial supporting factors.
In example, banana leaves are known to have antibacterial properties, as well as Vitamin A, Citric acid, Calcium and Carotene. It also has plant-based compounds called polyphenols that can act as natural antioxidant.
Jackfruit leaves also has several benefits when used as food wrap. It has the ability to detoxify toxins in our body, controlling blood sugar and diabetes, also improving our immune system. USDA even said that a compound in the leaves named phytonutrient can prevent us from getting cancer.
Bastard teak leaves are not less beneficial for us, compared to those two mentioned above. As it is usually cooked along with the food it is wrapping, which is entirely safe because it is natural, the glucose contained in the leaves will be transferred into the food. It gives the food a unique enhance in taste that’s entirely safe for our bodies.
And last but not least, lotus leaves which are usually used as a wrap of Lo Man Gai, Chinese classic kind of dim sum, is known to has alkaloid properties. It helps us to improve heart function and blood circulation throughout our bodies.
Compare It To Plastic And Paper
Looking on those beneficial effects, what if we compare using leaves as food wrap to using plastic or paper? Plastic is simply poisonous, both for us and the environment, because it can erode itself into tiny non-decomposable microplastic.
While paper is produced from cutting trees, which means that the trees cannot regenerate themselves. The only option to make it less risky to our environment is by replanting the trees. However, this option takes a long time to take effect.
Leaves, like banana leaves and jackfruit leaves, has been proven to be beneficial instead of poisonous. In addition, the leaves can be used while the trees are still standing tall. So, why don’t we keep using what our ancestors used as food wrap?
Plastic is so cheap, and it lasts much longer than almost anything as food wrap. That’s the main reason why plastic is widely used as food wrap. Leaves as food wrap don’t last too long, since it can decompose itself.
While paper can be mass-produced because there is plenty of resources to produce it, which in this case is trees. Even though mathematically we can still cover the use of paper with leaves, but to develop a massive ‘food wrap’ plantation nowadays is difficult. It takes serious effort to do it, and huge amount of money to start it.
So, is it possible to use leaves as food wrap in this modern day? Of course it is. Even for take-away foods that will immediately be eaten, we do not have to worry about the leaves going bad. In addition, lotus can be grown almost anywhere.
We just need the commitment to start it first. Can you?