no plastic bag

Yesterday over lunch with Liza, Niva and Audrey we talked about how some shops educate consumers to care for the environment by not providing free plastic bags for their purchases. At government level, the state of Selangor recently declared Saturdays as "no plastic bag" day - no plastic bag will be given out for you to carry your goods, no matter how much you purchase. Thanks to living in KL, so far I've managed to escape the ruling. Yet I think it's just a matter of time before the federal government decides to implement it nationwide.

For those living in Selangor, especially with family, it takes some adjustments to get used to the rule. Niva now carries two big IKEA shopping bags whenever she goes out. Liza said the Giant hypermarket near her house becomes extremely crowded on Sundays because people avoid shopping on Saturdays as they won't get plastic bags.

Those living in high-rise property find it harder to cope with the new rule as they have to carry the goods all the way from the parking lot to their respective units, unlike those living in landed property who can dump everything from the cart into the car and then into the house. Lesser plastic bags also means lesser can be reused as garbage bags. Consumers now have to purchase garbage bags, something that doesn't bide well with stingy Malaysians.

Since I don't cook (I can't even remember the last time I switch on the stove to do anything) and I don't have to feed my family (for now I shall happily leave the feeding duties to my parents, the joy of being single!), there's not much need for me to do grocery shopping, which translate to I don't get that many plastic bags anyway. It's always grocery shopping that results in lots of plastic bags being given away. However, I do notice there's one non-biodegradable material that singletons like me use more than my married friends - polystyrene food container. I don't know about you guys but I eat take-outs on daily basis and 90% of the time the food is packed in polystyrene container. And it's even more dangerous to the environment than plastic bags!

So what can I do to make it better for the environment? Between me and my friends, several ideas were thrown in:

1. Get a food container: First I need to get a high quality food container - durable, heat resistant, no spill, easy to wash etc.

2. Carry it everywhere: Err, really? Then I'll have to lug a bigger handbag around. I don't really like big handbags, my style is more to small clutches and fancy pouches. Some adjustments required here.

3. Use it when I do take-out: When I go to a stall or mamak joint to buy mixed rice, I shall put the food in my own container instead of the usual polystyrene box provided by the owner. If you ask me to do this 15 years ago I would die of embarrassment, but I'm way over that insecure teenage phase now. In fact I dare to be different and I don't mind setting a new standard!

Having said that, I know it's not going to be easy. Just take my Starbucks tumbler for example, the first few weeks I bought it I always forgot to bring it every time I went to Starbucks, even though I knew I could get RM 2 off my bill.

To make this green mission worthwhile, I have to apply it to the meal that I most usually do take-out - lunch. I usually do take-out of freshly cooked food (i.e. fried rice, tom yam, fried noodles) from the staff canteen for lunch. I would call the canteen to place my order and go there to pick it up half an hour later. By the time I get there the food would already be waiting for me, nicely packed in polystyrene box and placed in plastic bag. So will I be able change this usual practice to new greener practice? Here are some foreseeable challenges:

Challenge #1: How do I tell the cook to put the food in my own container? Should I leave the container at the canteen early in the morning and leave a message asking the cook to put my food in it when I place my order later?

Challenge #2: Will I end up making the entire kitchen angry by giving them one more thing to be mindful of?

Challenge #3: Worst case scenario is to eat mixed rice everyday as that's the only meal that I can do self-service, hence I can ensure that the container is used every time. But how long can I stand eating mixed rice every single day?

There you go. Not that easy.

Back to "no plastic bag" day, Niva commented that stores should make everyday "no plastic bag" day, not just Saturdays. I've seen that happen. Village Grocer always charge customers for plastic bags, so if you don't want the extra charge always bring your own bag. Carrefour Market (not the hypermarket, but the green version) don't give away any plastic bag, period. If you buy lots of things and forget to bring your own bag, then you'll have to beg the staff to donate to you one of those old boxes that they are about to throw away. Or else you’ll end up adding a big pail or a laundry basket to your purchase!

Solution: Always have a shopping bag in your car. I’ve put one in mine. Whether I’ll remember taking it out with me when I enter a supermarket, that’s another question ;-)


knitfreak-to-be said...

i used to have this jusco recycle-able bag, but everytime i'm done with it, i forgot to put it back in the car. have to make it a habit ;)

dieya said...

yeah making it a habit is the hard part. as for me i always forget to take it out of the car when i go shopping. when i realize it's not with me i'm too lazy to return to the car park to get it. haiiish!