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No-waiting at the Express Lane for Reusable Bags, but not many takers

Phuket's Plastic Bags Winning the Battle

Thursday, May 24, 2012
PHUKET: Reaction to shopping without plastic bags has been disappointing on Phuket. Environmental-friendly advocates of no-plastic will have to work much harder to achieve their aims.

The large Tesco Lotus supermarket in Phuket City introduced an ''Express Lane for Reusable Bags'' at its checkout counter two weeks ago.

Despite the obvious advantage of beating the crush that sometimes develops at checkouts, reaction has been poor. Only 10 to 20 shoppers a day are taking advantage of the no-plastic checkout option.

The slow takeoff of the anti-plastic bag campaign indicates a lack of desire for change on Phuket, a holiday destination where environmental concerns remain a low priority.

The tiny numbers of cloth-bag users also indicate that even visitors from countries where the plastic bag is outlawed are doing what the Phuketians do when on Phuket.

If Tesco decides there is not sufficient interest in non-plastic bag usage and ends the no-plastic checkout experiment, that would represent a major blow to a no-plastic future.

Phuket's environmental pioneers, who instigated the promotional campaign against plastic bags last year, are undoubtedly wise in pushing for an end to bag use.

But there has been no serious follow-up campaign of awareness among Thai supermarket shoppers, and no sign of a middle-term or long-term strategy.

As with reducing waste and recycling on Phuket, the campaign for change seems certain to languish without hard work winning converts among Phuket's leaders and average citizens.

With no real signs of progress, the beaches of Phuket are once again destined to be littered with plastics and other trash this monsoon ''summer'' season.

Tesco Lotus has extended its hours of opening at the two large outlets on Phuket to 8am to 11pm. If you happen to be one of the few people carrying your own cloth bags, you'll have no trouble at the checkout in Phuket City anytime.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Make 'em from stronger material and charge customer, if they want/need one/some. That will help!
As long they are for free, what are (company) officials expecting? To make the change easier: Change the law, so that everyone has to charge for plastic bags!

Posted by ??? on May 24, 2012 12:45

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The most easiest way would be to stop giving plastic bags out full stop. But the greedy companies wouldn't do this because they would lost money, they don't care about our world. As long as they get there money.The government could do much more as well condition when shops are build no plastic bags.People will then have to use environmental bags.

Posted by Monica on May 24, 2012 13:21

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If I didn't get plastics bags for my shopping then i'd only go and buy some plastic bags anyway to use as bin liners. So who is saving what?

Surely they can put their energy into something more worthwhile ie. motorcycle riding awareness or similar as after all plastic bags from Tesco break down and begin eroding as soon as you put shopping in them (ok not so soon, but it only takes a short time before they turn into flakes).

Posted by Sean on May 24, 2012 14:47

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Wake up, how can they hope to change people in a country, where we see the enviroment damaged everyday, where rubbish is disguarded on the streets, or the nearest unoccupied bit of land, where enviromental damage is NOT understood or is completely ignored, you have no chance of changing their mindset, but there is a simple solution..DO NOT PROVIDE PLASTIC BAGS.

Posted by Laurie Howells on May 24, 2012 15:54

Editor Comment:

You seem to forget, Laurie, that the West once polluted its rivers and canals too. Protecting the environment was learned over generations. There is no mindset, except in onlookers who expect instant obedience when what's needed is awareness and education. To not provide plastic bags would achieve one instant outcome: a riot. Get real, please.

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Is there reusable cloth bags readily available for sale at a realistic price in this aisle. Australia sells and promotes reusable bags in their supermarkets, the system works well, people soon get used to it and is easy to implement.

Posted by interested observer on May 24, 2012 17:38

Editor Comment:

In Australia, awareness is widespread and the need for individuals to be a part of environmental protection has been well-taught over two generations. That process has barely begun in Thailand and on Phuket. Unfortunately a relatively organic lifestyle using natural materials to carry food and drink was sacrificed for Western convenience packaging. Telling people they actually had it right the first time is never easy.

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Mr. Editor have you ever shopped at Makro? They don't give away plastic bags and they have not been subjected to any "riots"! All shops should do what Makro does if they are serious about the environment. I once took my own cloth bags to Tesco and was treated very poorly by their staff for wanting to use my own bags.

Posted by JB on May 24, 2012 20:16

Editor Comment:

As you point out, the regular supermarket environment is different. Good luck with stopping plastic bags overnight at regular supermarkets.

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Dear ED, I agree with all your comments. I only wanna say: they will have (very soon, cause thers isn't time for two generations)what they will deserve.. In 10 years Phuket will be destroyed, polluted, fill wuth everywhere by any kind of plastic (go to get a look around tha lake of Nai Harn when the thais finish to eat).

Posted by Dave on May 24, 2012 23:30

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I have some cloth bags that I got when they where two for one and then it still seemed expensive. I used to have 6 or 8 cloth bags in Australia. The cloth bags make carrying heavy things a lot easier as the plastic doesn't cut into the fingers or break. A lot of people only see the cost but comfort is important too. I still have a mountain of plastic bags that I use for trash like Sean. I don't carry my cloth bags all the time, so I'm always picking up the odd plastic bag. Still there are many places in Phuket where the staff think I'm some crazy man demanding to use cloth and not plastic. I tell you what would be progressive, if they where made from Hemp and not cotton. Probably next have to buy a new set of cloth bags in my life, would pay a slight premium for that.

Posted by Ty on May 25, 2012 00:26

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Recent studies have shown that the cloth bags are a great way to spread e.coli and noro virus around, especially in warm humid environments.

The problem in Phuket isn't plastic bags, its littering. Until you convince people to properly dispose of trash, you're going to have trash everywhere.

Posted by Anonymous on May 25, 2012 02:06

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"Los Angeles to become largest US city banning plastic bags"

(http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2012/0524/Los-Angeles-to-become-largest-US-city-banning-plastic-bags)

It's not only a problem of developing countries!

Posted by ??? on May 25, 2012 09:38

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Anonymous, I agree the re- use of bags is a vector of pathogens and until people are educated to stop sticking their fingers in their eyes, mouths and noses,...it is a real health concern.
However, I do reuse plastic bags and it never fails to warrant a smirk from the check-out personnel. I also agree it is not plastic bags that are the problem , but the society's propensity for littering which is astounding.

Posted by Media Watcher on May 28, 2012 09:03

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2 women go to Tesco: 1 has the reusable clothed bag where she put the pack of bin liners she bought for using at home. The other woman does not have reusable bag therefore she goes home with plastic bags which she will use as bin liners. Dear advocates of the no-plastic-shopping-bags, could you please explain me where is the GREAT environmental contribution the first woman is making besides spreading e.coli and other bacterias around? LITTERING is the issue. I wonder why putting so much effort writing an article where blaming-on-the-plastic bags is the key factor instead of recognising the poor environmental awarness some people on the island have by LITTERING. Ed, get real please !

Posted by paul on May 29, 2012 09:24

Editor Comment:

We don't blame plastic bags for anything, paul. It's hardly their fault they are abused and treated so badly.

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my idea for tesco is: DO STICK WITH AND PROMOTE plastic bags to use as bin liners and DO NOT sell tesco or any other brand bin liners at all. This will make the difference.

Posted by paul on May 29, 2012 10:54

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For those who say cloth bags are a vector for spreading e.coli and other bacteria, have you never thought of washing the bags? We wash plates and other things that we use for food why not the bags. (and I'm not a spambot [Code:PWSDTK])

Posted by Ty on June 5, 2012 17:27

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Educating the Thai People is the key. It might be an idea to have public bins all over, so that no one has an excuse of littering. That goes for islands as koh Phi Phi where you pay 20 bath to enter as a cleaning fee. Just too bad that the 20.000 bath a day goes in to the wrong pockets and there are still no bins.... It used to be paradise, but now it looks like s***

Posted by Andreas, Denmark on June 18, 2012 22:14

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The only way people will "remember" to start taking their shopping bags to stores is when they start getting charged exorbitant amounts for the bags... like $0.25 each!

Posted by Gary on June 22, 2012 04:48


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