Friday, August 01, 2008

Pastic Bags in China Renewed

Ever since June 1st of 2008, just about all Chinese cities have imposed a fee for using plastic bags at 7/11s, Wal-Marts, ect. Bring your own bag, or pay 1RMB (.15 USD) to use ours. That's how the government wants to reduce the amount the white waste and help the environment. (I wrote about it here)

Since this regulation has gone into place, there has been a lot of media coverage on the effects both in China and Internationally. Some have even suggested that China will save almost 37 million barrels of oil per year.

Radio and TV news has interviewed employees of many companies and the situation seems to be the same. Across the board, plastic bag use has decreased by almost 80%! That's incredible.

However, that's not the whole story.... Not in China, atleast.

I went to Carefore today to pick up some orange juice. It keeps my energy up and is rich in vitamin C. Honestly, it's an acquired taste. So i'm waiting in line with my medium box of OJ (12.5 RMB) waiting to checkout and I notice the lady in front of me putting her stuff on the checkout belt Little by little, she places her fruits, veggies, frozen food, meat, ect. on the belt.

When the clerk asks her if she would like to purchase a plastic bag, or if she had her own bags, she replied that she didnt need any. However, in my point of view, she didnt have any bags with her (I constantly carry one in my pocket just in case). Instead, she was holding a small roll of still-connected plastic bags in her hand - the ones used for holding fruits and veggies. She then calmly seperates the bags and without any thought, places all of her items in.

This is outrageous! Instead of doing the good thing of bringing her own bag, or thinking to help the enviorment, or even following the basic rules, this lady (kinda grumpy lady) finds away around it by just using the other bags. According to different media reports, while use of the regular plastic bags have drastically fallen, the use of fruit, veggie, rice holding bags have increased almost 10x! The retailers and the markets don't know what to do about it.

While watching this lady do her thing, I also looked around me to see how other people were reacting. Everyone was just minding their own business, talking on the cell and waiting patiently (or sometimes impatiently) in line. No one thought anything wrong was happening.

Maybe in a Chinese culture where "face" 面子 matters, some social pressure would easily solve this problem. Only if someone would actually care.


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