Strawberries are good and all, but do they really deserve to be sold for top dollar on an individual basis?
That might sound like the whim of a greedy, despotic leader, but it's actually common practice in Hong Kong supermarkets, where an individually wrapped "Fresh by Air From Japan" strawberry will run you HK$168—a whopping US$21.65.
The single berries come nestled inside a Styrofoam sock on top of a pile of faux hay inside of a plastic-covered paper box—a practice that is not only inefficient and wasteful, but gaudy and, frankly, stupid. A spokesperson from Hong Kong supermarket chain CitySuper argued to Hong Kong Free Press that the packaging connotes the berries' "premium grade, rarity and fragility," which requires "quality protection." The chain also said that the strawberries "are considered as delicacies of limited quantity and they are handpicked to ensure only the highest quality ones are harvested." (That's not to mention that almost all strawberries sold around the world are hand-picked, regardless of their country of origin.)
If you're of the opinion that this is a waste of money and resources, you're not alone. More than 8,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to make that opinion known.
Created by an environmental group called Plastic-Free HK, the petition calls for an end to the wasteful packaging epitomized by the "Fresh by Air From Japan" individual strawberries.
"We are calling on the owner's of every single large grocery store chain in Hong Kong to stop the excessive and unnecessary use of plastic wrap and plastic containers for their produce," the petition says.
Obviously, this isn't just a packaging issue, it's an environmental one. "The plastic pollution problem in Hong Kong and worldwide has reached horrendous levels, with our landfills coming close to capacity, our beaches being overrun with rubbish and our wildlife dying because of mistaking all of this waste for food," the petition goes on to say.
According to the South China Morning Post, just the Styrofoam socks on thousands of fruits in Hong Kong grocery stores weigh in at a total 83 tons every year, and would stretch from Hong Kong to the Maldives if placed in a line.
Plus, paying $20 for a single strawberry—even if it is presented in a nest and flown in from Japan—just makes you a sucker.