We are asked when we buy something in India. And if the answer is ‘yes’ something like 5 to 8 Rupees are added to the bill.
Marketing strategists tell us that the aim of the seller is to stroke the human weakness for going for something you don’t need. That means, when you buy, based on the spur of the moment decision, there’s a good chance that you don’t have anything to carry them in.
Shops used to give us cheap but useful plastic bags. These bags when thrown away indiscriminately would destroy the environment and unless people learn to dispose them off in an environment friendly manner or recycle, it should be banned.
Thus comes the regulatory guideline that plastic bags should be discouraged.
But then the trade should not convert that into a money making business. It’s like a private tax as the cost for the bags are a fraction of what is charged. In some businesses and large chains, the income out of this private tax could run into millions.
And imagine, somebody giving a plastic bag and charging for it!!! The very idea to discourage the free bags is to avoid plastic. One day I had ‘my day’. I was buying an outfit from an international brand chain in Kochi and I wasn’t sure if I really needed it. At the counter I was told that I have to pay Rs.8 if I want a bag. And it was a plastic bag, and I questioned use of plastic at a price to stop plastic. The poor cashier didn’t know what to do. Encouraged by an approving look on the lady behind the line and to save the poor cashier, I asked for the store manager.
The cashier went in and came out to say that the bag is free. The manager just avoided a confrontation.
Some actions are required. Of course plastic is to be discouraged, not perhaps for saving the tree, but for the laziness of not disposing them off correctly. Actually I read somewhere that more trees are cut to make substitutes to plastic.
Definitely the bags should be biodegradable like made off cloth or paper. Rural Kerala from my memory has been using newspapers to pack, tied around with jute strings. In fact that created a secondary market for used newspaper in literate Kerala.
And on shops charging a penalty for suggesting to pack in plastic bags! Well the penalty should not be a trading profit. They may at best take the actual cost for an alternate bag.
And the profit may go to some relief fund or charity. Certainly not to the trader’s profit as the name for it is ‘looting’……