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Grocery shopper shares photo of questionable product found in produce section: 'Companies should be fined'

The more processing a product goes through and the more material is used to make it, the more it costs.

The more processing a product goes through and the more material is used to make it, the more it costs.

Photo Credit: iStock

As more produce suppliers start wrapping their products in plastic, shoppers are appalled by which new items get the cling film treatment. Many have posted on r/mildlyinfuriating and other complaint subreddits about the most egregious finds. 

One recent example was particularly bad, prompting a storm of comments.

What happened?

The user posted a photo from their local grocery store, zooming in on two large bins in the produce aisle.

Photo Credit: Reddit

The bins are full of coconuts — specifically, hulled coconuts with the hairy, brown shells that have become so iconic. Those shells are famously hard to damage, but that didn't stop the seller from wrapping a band of clear plastic film around each one, leaving the ends open.

"Oh, if only coconuts had a hard, resistant shell so they didn't need plastic wrapping," the original poster said sarcastically.

Why is the plastic a big deal?

As a rule of thumb, the more processing a product goes through and the more material is used to make it, the more it costs. Lots of produce used to be sold simply and without packaging, keeping costs low for consumers. But as more companies turn to plastic, it can drive prices up.

Meanwhile, the plastic itself is inconvenient at best. It creates a completely unnecessary extra step in food prep, plus more garbage for buyers to deal with.

What's worse, this type of small and flexible plastic usually can't be recycled. In fact, it can even gum up recycling equipment and ruin batches of recyclable plastic. The best thing anyone can do with it is send it to a landfill where it'll take 100 years or more to decompose — and often, it ends up as litter instead.

"Companies should be fined for creating unnecessary waste," said one frustrated commenter in response to the photo.

What is this company thinking?

Several users offered potential explanations for the packaging, but most of them fell flat.

"I thought it was to protect other produce from the husks shedding," said one user. However, the open-ended wrapping would be ineffective at trapping coconut fibers.

"Well, I read once that there is a law about organic products that they can't touch non-organic products so they are always wrapped," said another user.

It is unclear what country the original poster lives in, so this may be true there; however, the plain labels on the coconuts list them as "coco seco mediano" (medium dry coconut), with no mention that they're organic.

The most likely reason was also the most trivial. "Might be for the barcodes," said one commenter, referring to the labels stuck to the plastic on each coconut — only one of many ways to ring up produce.

What can I do about plastic on produce?

If you can't grow your own fruits and vegetables, the next best option is to find a seller with affordable and eco-friendly packaging practices. That might be a local grower or a responsible grocery store. Also, avoid plastic when possible, and recycle what you do use.

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