Mexico burger business combats plastic pollution with banana leaves


The world’s oceans are awash in plastic pollution, and studies show it’s having an impact on our environment.  Reusing plastic and reducing plastic waste are two solutions.

In Mexico, one local business has an innovative way it hopes to make a difference to solve this growing problem. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports.

Yessica Luis, from Mexico’s Oaxaca State, has a growing burger delivery business called Hambre Feroz – or ‘Ferocious Hunger’.

She makes monster sandwiches for her hungry customers, but she’s basing her business on local custom she saw as a child.

“Many years ago, the people from this region served food or wrapped their fresh produce in leaves from banana trees and almond trees. That was a great help, and that’s what our project is about.”

 She’s taking that tradition seriously, by rejecting commonly used plastic packaging, and wrapping her orders in banana leaves, and tying them with natural string harvested from the same plant.

She’s trying to change a local culture that appears unconscious of the damage its plastic use is doing to the environment.

 Just half an hour from her house, the local indigenous community not only dump their trash on the roadside, but burn it, given the unreliable collection service.

“Things get very dirty here when the trash piles up,” said Livia Perez, a local woman who was on the process of pouring gasoline on a large pile of trash outside her house. 

“That attracts rodents, which in turn attract snakes, and our children play out here in the road, so it makes us scared. So I burn whatever I can, and the rest goes in bags to wait for collection.”

Gonzalo Bustillo is the director of the Juchitan Ecological Council, and said plastic has done serious damage to the local environment.

“The excessive use of plastic, and particularly single-use plastic, has contaminated our town a great deal. Especialy the river, open-air dump sites which never existed before. It’s done a lot of damage, and not only here, but across the state, and across the country.”

 Yessica said she’s already seen a difference.

“When they see that it does work, a lot of people have started to use banana leaves again, and that’s great, because you take the old ways and breath life back into the tradition,” she said. 

The owners of Hambre Feroz believe that their eco-friendly packaging comes at a critical time. They hope that in addition to providing burgers for their customers, that they are delivering lessons in environmentally conscious business practices as well.

Source: CGTN