Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Reusable Bags on Wednesdays

Posted by butalidnl on 26 September 2010

Starting with this coming Wednesday, supermarkets all over the Philippines will be charging customers a small fee for using plastic bags. This is to encourage the use of reusable bags. [See Malls to Charge Fee for Plastic Bags Once a Week ]

I think this is a great initiative by the supermarkets and the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR).  While it is only limited to one day a week,  it would stimulate the use of reusable bags beyond that single day. After all, if you already have bought a reusable bag, what is to keep you from using this on other days?

I believe that supermarkets could also do a bit more than just charging customers for plastic bags one day a week. Here are some ideas:

Sell Reusable Plastic Bags
Reusable plastic bags, which would be bigger and much sturdier than the usual plastic bags, could be sold everyday at the supermarkets. Preferably, these would be placed in the racks just in front of the cashier, so that customers could buy this and use them immediately. These plastic bags would of course bear the name of the supermarket, and thus double as advertisement for the supermarket. And the customer would pay for it!

Although this is still plastic, the main advantage will be that it could (and would) be used multiple times. People tend to maximize the use of things that they paid for, and since these plastic bags were bought, they will use it many times.

Also Ban the Free Use of Free Single-Use Paper Bags
Single-use paper bags are also bad for the environment. It uses up trees, and the chemicals used to process them to paper are harmful to the environment. If the ban on free plastic bags will result in the use of single-use paper bags, the environmental advantage of the campaign will largely be negated.

Have Reusable Bag “Express Lanes”
Another idea would be to have “express lanes” for those with reusable bags. And this will be for those who use reusable bags on other days than Wednesdays. This way, there is an additional benefit for those who use reusable bags; and this will be at no additional cost to the supermarket. If someone without a reusable bag uses this lane, then she/he would have to buy a reusable bag.

These are some suggestions to further promote the use of reusable bags. I hope that this initiative takes off, and that supermarkets could eventually even expand it to include, say, Thursdays?

Ban the Use of Plastic Bags

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