Make Believe Green Plastic

There is this very unhealthy trend (and I know this is a part of the “mall culture” we find ourselves in) gaining ground in India. Go to any mall for grocery shopping and see how the helper at the billing section arranges every little thing that you have bought in crisp, bright polythene bags. I could buy 3 soaps, 1 bag of flour and 1 diet coke and they would be packed in 3 plastic bags at the counter.

Often, I have tried to counter this by a couple of ways. I ask the guy at the counter to put it all in “one” bag. The idea is to minimize the usage of the plastic bags. The result, always invariably, is that the guy would continue packing the way he wants it, each “class” of item bought in its own separate bag and then, here’s the thing – pack all of these bags into one big bag. So, I end up using more bags than I would have if I had kept mum.

What is so hard to understand in this whole arrangement that I wished, I do not understand.

Another way I have tried (and failed) is to use a cloth bag. A mall, in Madivala, Bangalore has a set of cloth bags at the billing counter. The proudly encourage you to buy it because they say it helps the environment to shop in cloth bags. I could buy it but when I come back to the mall the next time with the cloth bag to use for shopping, they ask me to leave it at the entrance, which is at the 1st floor, because I could be such a shoplifter, for all we know, you see. And then, I have to get my items billed at the 3rd floor, make the guy at the counter understand that I do NOT want to use plastic bags and carry all my stuff way back to the 1st floor where I have kept my cloth bag, at the baggage counter. And after all this, well, I am just trying to be planet friendly — would you believe it?

And in case, I decide to use the plastic bags (just like all the lesser mortals out there), I could still help save the environment. Because the mall uses this special polythene bag that is good for the environment and can be recycled! I just need to pay Re.1 for it at the counter!

I mean, who do you think you are bullshitting, is my question. Is it too hard to understand that you don’t care a damn about the environment and you are using this “green-polythene-green-planet” or whatever-it-is propaganda eventually to cut your own costs so that you can make some money by charging a Rupee for a polythene bag that a customer cannot help but buy because you don’t even let him carry his own bag — plastic or cloth, within your shopping place?

But maybe I know now where this all came from. I have been in the US for a week now and have had to visit a few super stores to setup home and I see the same liberal use of polythene here, in the exact same way as it is now happening back home in Bangalore.

Begs the question — why do we blindly follow the west, doesn’t it?

4 thoughts on “Make Believe Green Plastic

  1. agreed! it’s such a huge problem for India, but also everywhere. Plastic bags is one of mankind’s worst inventions and it just enrages me when I see plastic bags littered all over the streets outside.

    my local grocery store has a recylcing bin for plastic bags but they also sell cotton bags. I dont have the same problem as you do, though. They let you carry your cotton bag around in the store, which I like.

  2. Plastic was one of the reasons of the flood in Mumbai in 2006.
    Today in India, anywhere you go, they will provide you with a plastic bag to carry your stuff.
    It’s high time that not only Indians but people all over the world start using paper bags or cotton bags.

  3. when i went to india for the first time i was incredibly impressed by the no plastic bag signs i saw all over jamshedpur.

    too bad its not replicated all across the nation.

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