Plastic bags are seen everywhere. Try buying half a kilo of tomatoes and the shopkeeper will put those in a plastic bag while giving it to you. You will end up putting this plastic bag holding tomatoes in another bigger bag – which will again have other groceries. There are high chances that this bigger bag might also be made of plastic. In short, the plastic bags are everywhere and we use them very leniently, just because they are available aplenty for free.
With the chants of environmentalists reaching the ears of the governing bodies world over, small initiatives taken in different parts of the world will help curb this menace of over consumption of plastic bags. In India, one of the very good initiatives we have in shops all over Mumbai (and i hope its the same in other states and cities as well) is that you cannot get plastic bags for free. The bigger plastic bags, which hold a lot of items are no longer free and you need to pay for them either at the grocer’s store or even at the cloth shop. You end up paying anywhere between Rs. 1/- to Rs.20/- to the shop owner , depending on the size of the plastic bag you ask the shop keeper. Though this initiative is adding onto the margins of shopkeepers (they no longer print plastic bags for free as it is a revenue generating opportunity now) but also helps consumers plan to shop by brining their own cloth/ jute bags or unused plastic bags at their house which now are being re-used.
Though i did not find any statistical measure that measures the reduction in the number of plastic bags consumed in India, i am sure this would be a substantial number. The reason is we Indians like anything that is freely available. If we have to pay for a plastic bag, we will as well plan and save that money and use it somewhere else! I rememeber in Norway as well we had to pay a miniscule NOK 1/- or NOK 2/- for plastic bags at KIWI, RIMI or Coop. I hope UK follows on India and Norway’s footsteps. The likes of TESCO’s, Sainsbury’s, M&S Food, Morrisons still give out tonnes of free plastic bags to millions of Brits! It will help to charge money – maybe GBP 0.10 or GBP 0.2 per bag and help Brits “TO STAY CALM and CARRY THEIR OWN PLASTIC BAGS”!