Death of an Icon

12:14 PM

Back in 2008 while I was visiting Switzerland for a 2 months I blogged about one of the biggest grocery shopping icon in my home country : the sturdy paper bag, a bag people could buy for 30 cents at the supermarket check out counter if they forgot their own, a bag significantly sturdier than the thin small plastic bags they offered for free, and a bag that once worn out and torn would find it’s way in recycled paper. The paper bag is no more.

My cousin confirmed it to me last November when she came to visit me and I announced that India finally started doing something against the plastic bag menace by charging customers that wanted one in an effort to encourage customers to bring their own, and shops to find better alternative (which few have even started exploring), this is when my cousin told me that Switzerland has put a ban on the humble paper bag, so now people have or to bring their own to the supermarket, or purchase the latest avatar in eco friendly grocery carrier: a sturdier, bigger bag made of recycled pet bottles like this one:


The concept isn’t new, IKEA was having similar bigger bags for sale in their store, and since my cousin works for IKEA I asked her if she could send some along with my mom in January, she forgot, but my mom brought me some of these new supermarket bags, one of them was from a smaller chain, and made of red thick nylon, but the two biggest were as above, the bag state it has been made from two recycled pet bottle. They aren’t exactly the type you can carry in your purse and use for other shopping as once folded they take space, but oh boy they are the best thing ever to go grocery shopping, until then we used small canvas bags that inevitably would hold too few items, or bigger plastic bags that would break after 4-5 intensive uses to carry groceries and kill our fingers in the process lifting them, as too date no one in the bagging crew at our local supermarket seem to understand that you should use the canvas tote to put the juice and soy milk cartons, and use the plastic bags to store the veggies. Now we have a fleet of all sturdy tote and because these have a rectangle flat bottom they are easier to load for the bagging staff, and far easier to lift for us thanks to their wide and long handles.

Now on the whole law about charging people for plastic bags in India, as I said a few months back it is the best thing that ever happened, I wished though that the security staff in some supermarket would update their policy about checking these at the entrance, if you are shopping solo with a small kids retrieving them is a bit tougher, and I would like to see more supermarket jump onto the occasion to sell reusable totes like the one above, Star bazaar does it, I think I saw a few Reliance totes as well, my local supermarket sells some but so tiny they are of no use, and I’m yet to see Big Bazaar do it. In the garment retail store, so far I’ve only seen Westside sell them. I’ve seen a lot of people crib about being charged for bags on the shoppers stop Facebook page, but I don’t really get why they fuss, I find it very easy to fold a few big size lifestyle type plastic bags hold them folded with an elastic band at the bottom of my purse ready to use for any impulse shopping trip, the staff in department stores don’t bat an eyelid at putting Lifestyle merchandise in a  crossword bag. And on occasion DH and I went shopping together we would just walk out of the store with the stuff in our hand and dump it in the car in the parking lot, if we really need a bag and have none, then be it, we pay for it. Charging for them is actually a good way to remind people about their value and push them to reuse them later.


  1. the plastic is completely banned in the states of himachal pradesh and Goa from past 10 years and people carry normal bags for shopping.i donno whats wrong with other states !

  2. Yes exactly, I keep hearing people telling me it is not possible to ban plastic in India, but hello, two States DID ban it successfuly! So really there is no excuses why others States can't do it.

  3. To some extent , i agree with banning the plastic bags, But i wrote an article on my blog in Marathi, Plastic Bag (http://wp.me/pq3x8-1mV) which dissolves in water & widely used in Aus..

    Street Vendors are still using plastic bags which are very thin, and offer them for Free of charge, if you purchase Veggies from them. These are the real hazard for the nature,as the rag pickers hate to collect these bags, as they are practically weight less..

  4. Oh yeah these tiny plastic bags are horrible, and you can't even really re-use them, I usually carry my own bag to the local store too. And yes I know the water soluble bags your are talking about, they are used in Switzerland to collect dog poops since this is one of these instance where a plastic bag is far more convenient. Here we use a poop scooper for our dog, but once she pooped the damn thing is full, stinks and your are stuck carrying a bulky thing full of poop for the rest of the walk. When we first gor the dog there was nothing to pick up poops, we bought a lot of poop bags in Switzerland, but ran out, so now we have the scooper.


Blog Archive