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Packaging fruit & veg in plastic is as silly as dressing it up in sexy lingerie

It's a lot of effort to make a puffer jacket for an avocado, says milliner Crystal Birch, who did just that for zero-waste store Nude Foods' latest playful ad campaign

07 July 2019 - 00:09 By jackie may
One of the ads for Nude Foods.
One of the ads for Nude Foods.
Image: Supplied

Milliner Crystal Birch was given an unusual task for Plastic Free July, a global movement helping millions of people join the plastic pollution solution.

Known for her eclectic collections of designer hats, Birch diverged from her core business to create fashion garments from single-use plastic packaging. Not for her regular clientele, though - these garments are for fruits and vegetables.

Birch was delighted with the brief from ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi for zero-waste store Nude Foods. "I love ridiculous briefs and creating funny things that are thought-provoking," said Birch.

The agency wants to show how unnecessary packaging is for most types of fruit and vegetables.

"While the message is serious, the execution is tongue-in cheek with loads of appetite appeal - our fruits look tasty AF," said creative director Stephanie Symonds. Photographer David Pryor captured the "models" in their pointless couture, treating the shoot with as much respect as a high-end editorial, with fancy cameras, lights and a stylist.

As with all her fashion productions, Birch worried that the models would not be able to pull off wearing her outfits. The Saatchi & Saatchi team had a clear idea of the fruit and vegetable models they wanted to use and the silhouettes they wanted Birch to create. But during the making of the garments, Birch said, this changed. "Our papaya had no 'neck' so she was swapped for a more curvy butternut with a booty."

Making mini garments was much harder than Birch imagined. "I don't think people realize how much effort goes into making a little puffer jacket for an avocado," she says. "Making them look super chic was really difficult. At first I thought I was going to fail miserably," she said.

"I had to play around until I got the right balance of clean and modern with the plastic textures." Scavenging for the right kind of rubbish was tricky too. "No wonder we call it rubbish!"

"The time for finding alternatives to plastic is now," said Birch. She and her family recycle their used plastic, paper, glass and cans. She carries re-usable shopping bags, has a Sodastream for sparkling water and purifies water so she can reduce buying plastic water bottles.

Since the subject of the campaign, Nude Foods, opened in Cape Town's City Bowl 18 months ago, it has become a hub for sustainably minded consumers.

Milliner Crystal Birch designed the outfits for Nude Food's Plastic Free July campaign.
Milliner Crystal Birch designed the outfits for Nude Food's Plastic Free July campaign.
Image: Supplied

Owner Paul Rubin was motivated by a frustration with wasteful, over-packaged goods at regular stores and by the fact that no-one seemed to be doing anything about it.

He created an exciting grocery stocked with fresh produce from an EU-certified farm in Philippi; eco-friendly home, body and cleaning products; and dry goods, honey and olive oil mostly sold by weight.

Rubin says that once people start shopping plastic-free, they find it near-impossible to go back to the old ways. "All it takes is a shift in mindset, and the courage to take that first important step. Once taken, this way of mindful consuming fast becomes second nature."

The Nude Foods campaign rolls out this month, backed by a five-part Pointless Documentary about the making of the campaign.

Birch hopes the collection of rubbish clothes will do a couple of things. There is no doubt it will be a conversation starter. "I think people will realise how ridiculous and unnecessary some packaging is." And, she hopes this will be the start of a fashion scene for fruit and vegetables.

WWF SA, The Beach Co-op and Twyg.co.za are challenging South Africans to give up single-use plastic chip packets, earbuds and drinking bottles for a month. As part of the global Plastic Free July, the organisations are focusing on three of the most common items of litter in the hope of raising awareness about single-use plastic.