Malaysian City Spends A Day Without Plastic Bags
The paper vs. plastic vs. reusable bag debate has been raging on for years, and although many cities and countries are encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags in an attempt to reduce the demand for plastic bags, forgetful shoppers and weak campaigns have meant that change has been slow.
For one city in Malaysia, however, the change was fast and furious- at least for a day.
The Star Online reports that the Selangor government had on Dec 20 declared its plans to make every Saturday a plastic bag-free day effective Jan 1. January 2 was the first Saturday in which the ban was in effect, and shoppers were both surprised and pleased.
A representative for Carrefour, one of the world’s largest retailers and operator of hypermarkets, supermarkets, hard discount and convenience stores in the area told The Star Online that amongst the few complaints were shoppers who simply weren’t aware that the campaign had already started.
Carrefour public relations manager Salmieah Mohd Zin added that “most Carrefour stores in the Klang Valley have been plastic bag-free since last year and their target was to have no plastic bags in Carrefour Malaysia by 2012.”
Customers who insist on plastic bags will have to pay 10 sen per bag.
Introduced just over 25 years ago, society’s consumption rate of plastic bags is now estimated at well over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.
Most people don’t realize that plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade – breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits, contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest them (ReusableBags.com).
Although many major locations, like San Francisco, the Republic of Ireland, China and South Aftrica have all made moves to tax or ban plastic bags, their use still contributes to monumental amounts of waste and toxic emissions around the world.
Campaigns like the one in Selangor are the key to breaking the mental and physical addiction that we have to plastic bags, and training shoppers that they can get along fine without them.
Hopefully next Saturday won’t be such a surprise.
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