Thursday, March 24, 2016

It is back to cloth bags

No more plastic carry bags in Karnataka. The ban came into force on Monday, March 14.

I am happy that the government is enforcing this rule very strictly, to the extent that corporation officials are visiting shops and confiscating the bags they have. Many shops have put up boards that it's illegal to use plastic bags.

Look at the plastic bags in garbage piles on roadsides. In fact, two years ago, the Supreme Court had urged people to be sympathetic to animals and called for a complete ban on plastic bags, as stray cattle ended up consuming them.

According to the The Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, 15, 000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day, out of which 9, 000 tonnes is collected and processed, but 6, 000 tonnes of plastic waste is not being collected.

Efforts like the recent one, wherein the Union government increased the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 microns to 50 microns, aren't really going to help. The government brought in this change because the thicker bags will be costlier, so that will be a trigger for people to switch to green products. But such efforts aren't going to yield any result. People will just start using the thicker version.


In Gurgaon, the municipal corporation is offering discounts for people who shop with cloth bags, under 'Bring your own carry bag' drive.

Two years ago, California became the first state in the US to ban single-use plastic bags as a way to address litter, primarily in waterways.

Punjab and Tripura have banned plastic carry bags.


In a way, the clock has come one full circle. You remember the days when plastic carry bags weren't this popular, and all of us carried cloth bags, before we stepped out to shop?

Then, it was a more organized lifestyle too. No one shopped just because there wasn't anything else to do. Most people shopped because they wanted to buy something, not because they wanted to spent money.

Earlier, many people had a fixed day or a couple of days every week when they made the purchases, and they went prepared for it with a cloth bag. Today, we buy stuff randomly as and when we remember. That could mean shopping on way to office, or way back from office, or at any random time. Needless to say, we wouldn't have a bag to carry stuff back home. And quite naturally, the plastic bag culture set in with our haphazard and erratic shopping culture.

Not all shops have green alternatives, so we have to first remember to have a cloth bag in hand before we step out to the nearby provision store.

Just wondering if the ban will end up in increased online shopping.


  1. Very true! I'm looking forward to such a ban in Delhi. Here I can see dangerously thin plastic bags dumped everywhere. I always carry cloth bag while shopping for grocery or vegetables. Surprisingly, vendors still pack the things in plastic bag and give you! You have to be really insistent that you don't need the plastic bag!

    1. A lot depends on how strictly the ban is implemented.

  2. It's such a relief, we should show some responsibility to our planet at least now.

    1. Yes, we tend to take the Nature around us for granted. We shouldn't. Hope this step will help in at least a small way.

  3. It's about time! This has been one of my cultural shock moving to India, and before the plastic bags were coming at a fee I can't tell you how many times I argued with supermarkets to just STOP segregating my shampoo bottle from the rest of my groceries and it was still nothing as epic as trying to make them understand that they had to use my fabric bag instead of giving me one of their plastic bag. I even had to give it up at time because security would not even allow me to take the bag inside.

    In Switzerland I grew up having to either pay 20 cent for a sturdy recycled paper bag (the kind that can hold 10kg of weight and be reused) or bring my own. The did provide plastic bags for free, but they were so thin and crappy that people would bring their own bags. I heard a couple of years ago that my homeland put a ban on paper bags, and now it's either you bring your own bags or buy a fabric bag from them.

    Since the 2011 plastic bag at a fee scheme in India I have been carrying my own foldable fabric bags in my purse all the time, I have 2-3 in said purse right now. I use them everywhere I need a bag. Supermarkets are ok with it now, but I found that Lifestyle, Westside and other big garment retail store look at you like you are totally deranged at time. I hope this ban will become nation wide. This plastic ridiculousness has to stop.

    1. Thanks Cyn, for your comments. Yes, I too hope this ban will become nationwide. And more importantly, ban is strictly enforced. We have many good rule, but not all enforced firmly.

  4. Right now, California law is applicable only to large grocery chains and pharmacies. It will extend to small convenience stores and liquor stores beginning July 1, 2016.