Square Watermelons? Has Sustainability Gone Too Far?

Dennis Salazar

January 30, 2014

3 Min Read
Square Watermelons? Has Sustainability Gone Too Far?

When I first heard of this new idea coming to us from Japan, I was certain sustainability advocates were dancing and rejoicing in the streets. After all this idea borders on genius! Japanese farmers discovered they could grow watermelons in square glass cases and the end result was a perfectly square watermelon. 

There are probably few items we buy that are as inefficient as watermelons when it comes to storage and shipping.  Consider all the wasted space in your refrigerator and the truck that was used to bring them to your local grocery store. I know green minded advocates are already calculating and salivating at the equivalent fleets of cars that this will “remove from the highway."

Green Packaging Can Learn Much from This Idea
It is difficult to believe farmers came up with this innovation because it would make most packaging engineers jealous. It focuses on several key points we as packaging designers and suppliers consider, or should consider every day:

• Maximum use of cubic inches – as we talk more and more about CO2 levels and carbon footprints, every square inch has a cost to the bottom line and the environment. 

• Making use of the product’s natural ability to structurally support itself.  Rather than two watermelons resting on each other at a single point, this new design allows for total support, (dare I say it, with NO protective packaging or cushioning material) especially on the corners where it is most needed. 

• This design will enable higher stacking, maximum cubes while minimizing damage and product loss. Because weight and pressure are so easily and effectively distributed, bruising may be completely eliminated. 

• Innovation breeds innovation. I am certain scientists in laboratories are feverishly working on square tomatoes, potatoes and especially square pumpkins. I am not sure the market will accept square jack o’ lanterns but I admit the possibilities are enormous and endless. 

The Traditionalist’s Perspective
Then I started thinking about how things are meant to be. If the Good Lord wanted square watermelons, why didn’t He make them square? Being omniscient, He certainly must have known how badly we would screw up the environment and how important sustainability would eventually become. 

Is it the right, long term thing to do? I admit many if not most of the world’s innovations in the last few decades have come from Japan. However aren’t they the same people who gave us bonsai trees? Sure they’re interesting shapes but don’t deliver a whole lot of shade, do they?  

The 4th of July Can Be a 
Sentimental Holiday Too
I suppose after the years pile on, every holiday becomes day of reflection mixed with gratitude. When I think of “The Fourth”, I think about freedom and about the men and women who are serving domestically and overseas to help preserve the rights we usually take for granted. I also gratefully consider all the people who have sacrificed their lives so we can maintain our independence and enjoy a carefree, summertime, three day weekend. 

I think about burgers, hot dogs, cold beer and a refreshing ice cold watermelon, especially when a child is enjoying it with reckless abandon. I think I have come to the conclusion square watermelons may be an excellent sustainable idea but I kind of like the way the curved ones match those young summer time smiles.  

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.   


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