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If Only Packaging Could Imitate Fruit..

Better than any other food, including vegetables, fruit is by nature the embodiment of sound packaging.

Imagine the last time you went to a farmer’s market or grocery store – perhaps your own backyard even – and saw fresh apples at their peak. Aesthetically, they command your attention. With bright, shiny coats and a pleasingly simple silhouette. You may, too, be lured in by their light fragrance, a by-product of their elevated sugar levels – letting you know that they are ready to be eaten.

The fruit’s peel, and natural wrapper, provides protection but is easy to remove. As a bonus, it too can be cleaned and eaten, something that cannot be said for plastic or aluminum wrappers. If not eaten, the peel is still biodegradable and can serve as a nutritious addition to your compost – if the apple hasn’t acted as a sponge to pesticides from commercial farming, anyways.

As a fruit oxidizes, its changing color indicates both its ripening and impending expiration. Another of fruits’ virtues is that it reaches the height of its beauty during its peak in quality. A combination that encourages one to consume it while it is at its best. All without the need of flashy advertising. Human-crafted packaging could achieve a similar effect using materials that react to the product, so that packaging appears vivid in color when the product is fresh and gradually pales as the products expiration comes to pass.

Doing so could also improve retailer awareness, and optimize product placement, with fresh and mature items greatly distinguished from one another.

An even more valuable act of bio-mimicry would be creating packages of a similar cellular structure to fruit. Although water accounts for over 90 percent of a fruit’s make-up, it is well contained because it is stored in and between cells. If packages could emulate this, edible or biodegradable vessels could be created, allowing people to carry around soups and beverages in containers that are puncture-proof and create no waste.

Overall, fruit is compact, easy to carry, employs eye-catching colors at the height of its nutritional value and lets you know when its contents have extended their use. If packaging could employ these elements consumers would be better informed about the product’s conditions, and levels of waste and contamination-related illness may decrease significantly.

Paper or Plastic, Daniel Imhoff, Watershed Media, 2005

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