Monday, January 24, 2011
Starting from the 1st of January this year, major hyper/supermarkets and certain other consumer outlets have started their 'no plastic bag day' on every Saturday as per the Government directive. While not considering myself a tree-hugger, I welcome this move by the government (OK, granted that it was actually the PR-led state governments who started the campaign a number of months before that, but let's just leave politics out of the way). Even though many lauded this campaign , a number of others were not impressed - plastic bag manufacturers included, haha!
I have read number of SMSs in the Readers' Column of local newspapers who argued that such a move only gave profit to the participants - they now can cut down the cost of providing free plastic bags. Indeed a supermarket operator in Penang confessed that he managed to save around RM1000 off his overhead. Anyway, we need to look it in a holistic way. Sure the operators make some profit but would the ringgit and sen can be compared to the mountains of plastic bags at the dumpsite, or for that matter, lying and flying around on the road, pavement, on the river banks and floating in the river? I usually shop at TESCO and while their 'green' bags cost me RM12 (I bought two), I believe they will soon repaid that sum many times over, intrinsically of course. Ever since the campaign was started I have made a point of keeping the 'green' bags inside my car boot to avoid awkward moments when shopping on Saturdays, buying large number of items and having them rolling around the boot!
Nevertheless the awareness level, at least around Kedah (perhaps all over Malaysia), is still low. Too few of the shoppers brought their own bag or purchased the green bags. They'd rather have their groceries rolling around the boot and making more trips from the car to the kitchen once they got home rather than spending 20 sen per plastic bag or RM6 for the green bag - which can be used over and over again. Or perhaps we should go back to the 70s where shops packed the customer's groceries inside paper bags, which nowadays can be made from recycled paper I guess.