A good initiative

1:52 PM

After years of me wondering when this whole plastic bag nonsense going in supermarkets would stop, it seems the day has come.
The Indian government has issued a notice making it mandatory for retailers to charge customers for plastic bags. I got the SMS from Lifestyle which stated it was apparently a national thing, but for the past month or so Spar and Star Bazaar had a notice about the change in plastic bag policy.
And came the first week of August, and sure enough the guy in Star Bazaar asked me if I wanted bags or brought my own, and since I forgot to take mine I paid 4 rupees for 2 standard bags.
Here is my say though: FINALLY! Yes finally big supermarkets can’t get away with using 5-6 plastic bags to bag items that should fit in 2 bags at the most, finally the pleading them to stop segregating your veggies from your grain and your shampoo bottle from the box of corn flakes has come! And gone are the days of you or arguing with the security staff at the entrance to let you in with your jute carry bag or find a way to smuggle it in your over sized purse, and then plead some more with the cashier who refuse to put your groceries in the eco-friendly alternative to the bags embossed with their logo. Yes FINALLY the customer has a CHOICE! And Star Bazaar at least has instructed the security staff to let us in with our own bags, they just put little sticker on them to show that the bag indeed comes from outside and hasn’t been stolen, and the cashier will carefully stack your goods in the bags you provided.

Now the question is will this change be a lasting one? i sure hope so, and I sure hope it will lead to more changes, with retailers even the smaller ones not giving anything plastic. Maybe charging people for plastic bag is the kick in the butt everybody retailer first needed to make a change.
As for the paying for bags, I hope no customer will fuss, after all they have the option to bring their own and not pay the fee. I come from a country where paying for your supermarket bag has been done forever, and it’s the good old paper bag, a shopping icon in Switzerland, that we are paying for, it’s bring your own or pay for a new one rule there, they have plastic for free though, but it’s the lame thin crappy kind that won’t hold a carton of milk without breaking, in an effort to encourage people NOT to rely on them.  Other department stores have plastic for free back home, the good bags, but they always ask if you want one or if you are going to store your new purchase in one of your other bags, as the concept of checking your bags at the entrance of a store doesn’t apply there.
The irony about India though, is that the insane plastic craze is something quite new, DH said growing up it was paper or jute bags even at the mom and pops corner store. How did the plastic thing went so out of hand in the last 10-15 years? With small supermarket banning people from entering with their own bag and forcing a plastic bag on their patrons? That is something I now wonder even more. I haven’t seen any resistance to the recent switch, in fact you see hordes of very happy customer producing their bunch of jute bags at the check out point and very few leaving with plastic bag, it seem the green habit was there, and just repressed by mass consumption, as if most people only waited to be allowed to be greener while shopping.
Here’s the beginning of the end of the plastic era!


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