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Shopper shares frustration with photo of coconut packaging at grocery store: 'That is entirely wasteful'

"If only there were some natural alternative that would protect [it]."

"If only there were some natural alternative that would protect the coconut."

Photo Credit: iStock

More and more often, produce that was once sold loose and unwrapped is turning up with printed plastic packaging or cling wrap instead. Shoppers have posted many examples online, but one Redditor recently shared an extreme case involving coconuts.

What happened?

The post appeared on the complaint subreddit r/mildlyinfuriating alongside many others like it. The Redditor titled it simply, "Plastic wrapped coconut."

"If only there were some natural alternative that would protect the coconut."
Photo Credit: Reddit

They also included a photo, and it's almost unbelievable. Without the "fresh young coconut" labels on the brightly-colored packages, it would be impossible to tell that you're looking at coconuts. 

The manufacturer, which seems to be a Thai company, has sealed each coconut in a plastic shell, with a large plastic plunger on top and a straw attached to the side. The instructions on the label show buyers how to use the plastic plunger to punch a hole in the coconut to drink from it.

"If only there were some natural alternative that would protect the coconut," complained one commenter.

"That is entirely wasteful," said another user.

What difference does the packaging make?

Extra packaging costs the manufacturer money to produce, and companies make up the difference by charging more for products. A coconut wrapped in plastic instead of its natural shell costs consumers more, without actually providing them with anything unique.

On the environmental side, those awkwardly shaped pieces of plastic are difficult to recycle and are more likely to end up in a landfill or become litter that pollutes the environment.

Why is the company packaging coconuts this way?

This method of packaging appears to be all about convenience for buyers, turning a natural coconut into a standardized, simplified commodity.

There may be ways to improve on the design. One company in the U.S., K Fresh, offers a similar product called Coco Thumb, and last year, it changed to what it calls "sustainable packs" using less plastic.

However, even those packages still use plastic wrap in addition to cardboard and are ultimately worse for the environment than just buying a plain coconut.

What can I do to reduce plastic waste?

Whenever possible, buy your produce from a seller that uses minimal packaging — either an eco-friendly grocery store or a local grower. The more buyers migrate to plastic-free produce, the more pressure companies will be under to eliminate packaging.

Depending on where you live, you may even be able to grow some of your own food to ensure it never has to be wrapped or shipped.

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