Friday, October 24, 2008

Ironic? The plastic bags case

Back in January, I wrote a post about activists in city of Vancouver, Canada, trying to convince the local authorities to eventually impose a ban on plastic grocery bags. It is certainly a great idea, as plastic grocery bags have proven to be harmful to the environment (low biodegradability, pollution of waters, etc).

No wonder that this kind of ideas are promoted in a country like Canada, and more specifically from the province of British Columbia, where inhabitants boast about their green practices, such as recycling materials and utilizing cleaner transportation (trolleybuses, bicycles, buses that run with biofuels, and so on). Interestingly, even though lots of British Columbians already own reusable grocery bags and use them routinely, it is still very common to see patrons who prefer to avoid paying CAD$0.99 to buy a reusable bag. Instead, they still choose the standard plastic bags, which stores happily provide for free... and which, of course, won't be reused in most of the cases.

Whilst Canada is highly regarded as one of the cleanest countries in terms of green living habits, China is regarded as exactly the opposite. Discharge of industrial waste into rivers, uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases, and lack of recycling programs in place, are some of the issues that have given China its fame as a non environmentally-friendly country.

Now to the ironic part: since June this year, the Chinese authorities have started a campaign to shift the peoples' habits from choosing plastic grocery bags to leaning for reusable types in the very short run. Even though reusable bags are not readily available for purchase everywhere in China (as opposed to what happens in Canada), grocery stores apply a fee to new plastic bags for customers! Of course, the purchase of plastic bags is not mandatory, but it is a standard practice across the country. The result? People are avoiding the use of plastic bags, and they are carrying their groceries in other non-disposable items (such as backpacks). Their strategy is definitely working!

The question is: why can they succeesfully put in place these practices in China (a country that traditionally doesn't emphasize a lot the preservation of the environment) in an accelerated fashion, whereas in Canada it is progressing in slow motion...? Just an idea to think about.


At 6:36 PM , Blogger Blackdove said...

Many grocery bags nowadays ARE biodegradable, although they look like plastic. Here's a nifty way to convert these grocery bags into trash bags. It's easy to do, convenient to use, and earth-friendly.


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