Monday, October 13, 2008

Say no to plastic

Visited a supermarket recently . Behind the cash counters there are signs which say "say NO to plastic , plastic is harmful"with rather gory pictures of a landfill filled with plastic bags . Logically one would think that the store offers alternative material as packaging . No . Every purchase is packed in a plastic bag . There is no cloth bag or paper bag in sight . No alternatives to plastic bags that a consumer could even buy (since the store wasn't giving it anyway ).

While waiting for the bill to be prepared I asked to speak with the Manager. Showed him the posters and asked why they continue to pack in plastic bags and offer no alternative. By his reaction it seemed that this was the first time he was contemplating the contradiction . He tried saying that they had kept some bags but consumers were not willing to pay Rs 50 (approx 1-1.20 $ depending on currency movements )for the bag.  Very few consumers would agree to pay Rs 50 every time they popped into the store for a purchase . If this was the only initiative by the store then it seems more like a business proposition ( to earn margins on the cloth bags ) rather than action driven by ideology and a genuine concern for the environment .

Coming back to the store manager . He tried to blame the consumers for the fact that they continue to use plastic bags . Yours truly has taken to carrying a folding bag around on a daily basis . This one choice alone helps to reduce the personal consumption of plastic bags significantly ( staff at some fashion clothing stores look at me in dismay when I decline their bags ). I had a folding bag with me and fished it out to accommodate  nearly 50% of the items purchased . Showed it to the store manager and suggested that they could offer some kind of incentive to consumers who bring their own bags . The amount itself may not be much . But it would be recognition for planet friendly efforts . They could even weave it into the loyalty program e.g 5 consecutive purchases done without plastic bags qualify for extra points . 

Plastic bag is among other things a habit . Once consumers get used to carrying a bag around to this store they are likely to carry it for other purchases as well .

Problems don't always have simple solutions . But that does not mean that the search for solutions should be abandoned (in so many situations the seeming complexity of the problem deters from even attempting a solution ) .

Do write in with suggestions for alternatives to plastic bags .

Say no to plastic .

1 comment:


Just ban plastic bags like cigarettes. Period. Both are harmful. People will find an alternate.