See How Wasted Fruit Can Have a Stylish Second Life

This fruit ‘leather’ bag highlights the potential of the food we throw away.

(Photo: Fruitleather Rotterdam/Facebook)

Aug 29, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

You could make the case that leather goods address a food-waste concern: A cow’s hide is both large and inedible, and if it weren’t used for making clothes, bags, or other products, it would indeed be a waste. The new “leather” bag made with Original Rotterdam Fruitleather is quite different, however: It’s created from the waste generated by fruit and vegetables sellers at the Rotterdam market.

“In a single day on one of the outdoor markets in and around Rotterdam, vendors throw away approximately 3,500 kilos (7,700 pounds) of rotten or other unsellable fruits and vegetables,” says Fruitleather Rotterdam’s website, which was started by a group of design students at the Willem de Kooning Academie in the Dutch city.

Instead of letting the tossed food rot, the collective is collecting the waste, mashing it up, and cooking it down into a paste thickened by the natural pectin in much of fruit. When poured into sheets and dried, it turns into a thick, pliable “leather” familiar to anyone who grew up shopping at co-ops—but instead of a sweet, healthy snack, the Dutch crew wants to “give waste new life,” turning it into bags, art, and other products.

The issue of wasted food—and the resources it takes to produce food—stretches well beyond Rotterdam. A recent report that looked at the problem across the European Union found that member states throw away an average of 270 pounds of food per capita annually, but that 80 percent of that waste is avoidable.

Of course, curbing that large share of waste doesn’t necessarily mean turning it into fruit leather bags but rather being smarter about what’s stocked and how its sold on the retail end—not culling “ugly” fruits, for example—and making sure to better utilize what is bought on the consumer end. And while it would probably be a rather sticky way to carry your wallet, a fruit leather bag is certainly a good way to bring awareness to the issue—and it probably tastes good too.

Close-up of a Fruitleather Rotterdam bag.

(Photo: Fruitleather Rotterdam/Facebook)