Protecting the environment with practical actions

Recently, several supermarkets in Vietnam have begun wrapping their products with environmentally-friendly materials in an effort to reduce the use of plastic bags and change customers’ behaviour, while conveying a message of protecting the environment from the smallest actions to the community.

Veggies wrapped with green banana leaves at Big C Thang Long supermarket in Hanoi (Photo: NDO/An Nhien)
Veggies wrapped with green banana leaves at Big C Thang Long supermarket in Hanoi (Photo: NDO/An Nhien)

Over the past few days, the vegetable section at Big C Thang Long supermarket in Tran Duy Hung street in Hanoi has been rearranged with a different look, bringing a lot of interest to shoppers. Accordingly, vegetables and herbs, which used to be covered with plastic wrap, are now wrapped with banana leaves.

Nguyen Thanh Hai, a shopper from Dong Da district, said that food courts at many supermarkets often use plastic wrap and cling-film wrap to package their products, from meat, fish, and flowers, to vegetables and fruits. She said that the replacement of plastic packaging with banana leaves is a good and practical way to reduce the use of plastic and protect the environment.

Director of Big C Thang Long supermarket, Khuc Tien Ha, said that, since April 2019, five Big C chain’s supermarkets, namely Thang Long, Long Bien, Ha Dong, Le Trong Tan and The Garden, have piloted the packaging of vegetables and herbs using banana leaves.

Other Big C supermarkets in the central and southern regions will also use the material for indigenous ‘don’ vegetables, which are on sale under a project on supporting the livelihood of farmers in Son Ha district, Quang Ngai province, he added.

Realising the negative impacts from plastic waste, customers have turned to environmentally-friendly products, Ha said, adding that the replacement of cling-film wrap with banana leaves aims to meet the shoppers’ demand, while spreading a call to protect the environment to the community.

Although the replacement might bring extra costs for the supermarkets, the prices remain unchanged. Big C hopes that the experiment will receive support from shoppers, thus increasing its sale volume to offset the increased cost of materials.

Banana leaves also help to keep veggies fresh for longer and generate income for banana growers at the same time.

Although it has been implemented for only few days, the method has received a positive response from customers, particularly foreigners. Many elderly shoppers said that banana leaves recalled a time of their life in rural areas in the past. The material also promotes green shopping behaviour and a healthy lifestyle, while ensuring food safety.

Big C is the first supermarket chain in Hanoi to wrap their veggies with banana leaves. In the southern region, Saigon Co.op and Lotte Mart are experimenting with the packaging in their systems.

According to the supermarkets’ media representatives, the method is one of their solutions to protect the environment, alongside the use of biodegradable plastic bags, disposable food wrapping, and reusable bags.

It is hoped that such practical actions to protect the environment will be encouraged and spread in the community, contributing to changing customers’ behaviour and raising their awareness of working for the future of the Earth – the common home of all inhabitants.