Ways to encourage usage of recycle bags instead of plastic bags

Recently, Animal Planet featured an interesting case study on how to get people to use recycle bags instead of plastic bags at grocery store checkout counters.

At first, someone dressed in a costume made of plastic bags all tied up together to show to the customers the impact on how plastic bags literally cluttered up our planet. This does not seems to have much impact on the customers who mostly just walked past.

Then, they started having plastic bags with sarcastic messages- for example something along the lines that ‘I don’t wash my hands after using the toilet’ or ‘I dig my nose in public’. The customers who got those plastic bags stared at it, and most of them took it as a joke. However a small minority of them opted for the recycle bags instead.

Finally, the show host came out with an idea- they placed a picture of a baby seal looking very pitifully as it was being choked on the plastic bag. Then the host stood at the checkout counter and asked each customer,

‘Sir/Madam, would you rather choke a baby seal or use a recycle bag?’

Baby seal stuck in platic

That did the trick. Most of the customers just stared at the picture in shock, followed by sympathy and ended up paying USD1 for a recycle bag to store their groceries.

The full enormity of choking baby seals from discarded plastic bags dawned on these customers and they would rather use recycle bags.

How implementation of no plastic bag days alter consumer behaviour

My area implemented no plastic bag days- at first it begin on Saturdays (peak day for shopping) and now it is everyday. This means if you need to request for a plastic bag, you would be charged 20 cents per piece which is akin to daylight robbery because it is expensive!

At first, we were really not used to not using plastic bags. We usually drive to do our grocery shopping so we could live without using the plastic bags. However, those who took public transportation had no choice but to buy plastic bags…at 20 cents per piece.

Recycle bags

As time goes by, more and more people got used to the idea and basically most people would not leave home without a recycle bags. Recycle bags are also sold according to season like the CNY theme bags above.

Personal experience

For myself personally, I would never leave home for any form shopping without taking along a few recycle bags. To prevent the recycle bags from taking up a lot of space in your carry on bag or handbag, just fold them and then tie them with a rubber band or a used hair band.

We all know that plastic bags literally does not decompose and even if they do, it takes a minimum of hundreds of years.

If anything, taking along my own recycle bags to pack my groceries have reduced the amount of clutter build up of plastic bags in my home- which I am really glad and thankful for. In the past, I used to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of plastic bags that accumulated in my home that take up surface space all over. And I used to feel bad to have to throw away a lot of plastic bags each time.

Therefore, even if you are not doing it for the environment, reduce the plastic bag takeout for your own sake. When you take back your grocery items in your recycle cloth bags, you would tend to unpack the items and store them into their proper place more promptly compared if you have these items in plastic bags. Reason is because you would need to reuse or wash your recycle bags for the next usage.

This help in making your house more organized, reduce clutter from plastic bag and at the same time contributing less waste to the environment and landfills.




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