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Saigon grocery store shuns plastics to wrap products in banana leaves

Thursday, March 28, 2019, 14:53 GMT+7
Saigon grocery store shuns plastics to wrap products in banana leaves
Nguyen Anh Thao shows vegetables wrapped in banana leaves at his store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

A grocer’s in Ho Chi Minh City has garnered extremely positive feedback from customers by ditching the common plastic wrap to switch to the more traditional banana leaves, in a bid to protect the environment.  

The owner of Tiem Rau Cua Ba, literally “Dad’s Vegeteble Store,” in Binh Thanh District wraps his vegetables all in banana leaves, just like what sellers would do at conventional markets in the countryside.

Many customers have greatly appreciated this wrapping, Nguyen Anh Thao, a 28-year-old from Quang Nam Province, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Quitting a good job at a big company, Thao built his own business by sourcing clean vegetables from Da Lat, known for its cool climate, and other Central Highlands provinces to sell in Ho Chi Minh City.

Green cauliflowers are wrapped in banana leaves at Nguyen Anh Thao’s store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Green cauliflowers are wrapped in banana leaves at Nguyen Anh Thao’s store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Most of his groceries come from organic farms that have secured quality certification.

At first he had to throw away half of the stock over poor sales.

Gradually, his business has been thriving as more and more clients have known of his store and its clean vegetables. He replenishes his inventory every day, a difference from three or four days in the past.

Banana leaves are traditional packaging that has been used for a long time in rural Vietnam so he wants to bring such wrappings to the city, the man said.

Cucumbers are seen being wrapped in banana leaves at Nguyen Anh Thao’s store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Cucumbers are seen being wrapped in banana leaves at Nguyen Anh Thao’s store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

“The banana leaf packaging looks nice and pleasant so my customers are really fond of them,” Thao said.

“They are meant to protect the environment as well.”

He also wraps other aquatic products in banana leaves or biodegradable paper bags.

Nguyen Anh Thao arrange vegetables at Nguyen Anh Thao’s store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Anh Thao arranges vegetables at his store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Some buyers found it inconvenient to carry such packages home on their motorbikes, as they could not hang them on the hooks like they would with the plastic wrap and bags, according to the store owner.

What is more, the store boasts wooden shelves and basket plaited with bamboo, conjuring up the vibes of the countryside.

“I’m happy to see foreigners and Vietnamese housewives welcome the banana leave wrappings,” Thao said.

“The more often they visit my store, the more products farmers are able to sell.

“I feel so satisfied doing business without damaging the environment.”

The man plans to use more banana leaves and offer discounts to encourage customers to buy eco-friendly products.

Vegetables wrapped in banana leaves are on sale at Nguyen Anh Thao’s store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Vegetables wrapped in banana leaves are on sale at Nguyen Anh Thao’s store in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

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