Saturday, July 21, 2018

Did you remember to carry it today?

It was a Thursday, the day I usually buy my veggies and fruits for the week. I have a few of these small shops from whom I buy regularly. I refrain from going to supermarkets to buy veggies and fruits for three reasons

  1. You never know how fresh they are 
  2. I like to touch and feel the fruits and vegetables before I buy. This is out of the question in a mall as they are all packed in plastic covers 
  3. I like the one-on-one connection and the rapport I can build with these vendors. For me, big shops are very impersonal and devoid of that human touch. 

When I visit my Mom's place I meet the same vendors whom we used to see as kids. They talk to us affectionately and choose the best of fruits and vegetables for us. They were and still are a part of our lives.

Continuing with my story, that Thursday as I was walking towards the vegetable shop, I saw a lady talking to the vendor. As I approached, I saw that the woman had several cloth bags with her which she was giving to the shopkeeper free of cost. She asked him to convince and encourage his customers to start using cloth bags instead of plastic bags. The scheme was, the customer is to be charged a nominal sum for the cloth bag and the next time the customer wants to return the bag the vendor can deduct the cost of the bag from the total bill amount.

The idea here was to start getting people to use cloth bags instead of plastic bags and to encourage them to remember to get cloth bags whenever they shopped. She turned towards me and saw that I was already carrying cloth bags. She requested me to try and spread awareness and I promised her that I would. I saw the shopkeeper hanging the cloth bags on the wall.

For quite some time, I have made it a point to have a few cloth bags in the car always handy, and very rarely do I have to ask for plastic bags. While it is good to see a lot of my fellow shoppers carrying their own bags, a large number still depends on the plastic bags given by the supermarkets. I understand a few governments have banned the use of plastic bags but the question is do we need legislation to stop the use of plastic, especially single-use plastic?

Every time we step out, we see piles and piles of garbage heaped on the roadside, on grounds, lake beds, and so on and what stands out in these heaps are the colorful plastic covers. We see this happening right in front of our eyes, and yet turn a blind eye to this humongous problem. Unfortunately, each one of us thinks it is not our problem.

If we remember, our grandparents or our parents didn't discard anything. They would always find ways and means to recycle stuff. The food was not wasted; old cloth materials were kept to make quilts or mats or cloth bags; old papers were kept to cover shelves or used as packing materials and so on.

It saddens me when people don't mind paying five rupees extra for the plastic carry bags at malls but are not willing to shell out a little more on cloth bags.

When I go to my vegetable vendor, I still see the same number of cloth bags hanging on the wall. When I ask him he tells me people prefer using plastic! Our parents did their bit for the conservation of our earth - it is now our turn in the changed circumstances to carry the baton forward and leave our children with a better world to live in.

Can our actions be something as small as remembering to carry cloth bags while going shopping?

Won't you as conscientious citizens of the world help spread this message and do your bit?

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