Tag Archives: brasil

Plastic bags…with the strength of a sickly kitten

15 Nov

Okay…after all the enthusiasm of the last few posts I need to get to something that really irritates me here. The plastic bags! Now the average shopper in the UK is still certainly smitten with the plastic bag and there is no sign yet that any change will take place in the government’s voluntary approach to reducing their use. However, the Brazilians (or at least Cariocas) take it another extreme.

The main issue is the extreme flimsiness of the plastic bags. Each bag is probably the size of a large loaf of bread and has the strength of a sickly kitten. Anything heavier than a packet of crisps needs needs its own bag. Half a dozen eggs, one plastic bag. Packet of beans, one plastic bag. Bag of tomatoes, just placed in one plastic bag, placed in another plastic bag…..arrrghh! If this wasn’t enough  frequently they DOUBLE bag items, especially bottles of drinks, because they aren’t strong enough to hold one litre of liquid…who designed these bags and why do the shops keep using them?

Packing shopping is also one area where staff show an abundance of zealousness and enthusiasm for their jobs. I have to quickly whip out my rucksack and thrust in front of the staff to prevent any shopping from being wrapped in plastic. ‘I don’t need a bag’ was one of the first phrases I learnt here. I feel so rude every time I say it and people can instantly tell I’m a gringa!

I discovered recently that at my local supermarket I do actually get a few centavas back for not using their plastic bags. This isn’t advertised or communicated and there’s no suggestion that they want to wean people off their plastic bag fettish from the abundance of them at the check-out. However, somebody in the upper echelons has obviously brushed shoulders with corporate social responsibility at some point.

Reducing plastic bag use is a small dot on the path to a more sustainable world. But every time I see the waste and lack of awareness its like a tiny pin puncturing a little more of my hope and adding to the giant sized challenge that lies ahead.

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