Public Enemy Number 1: The Plastic Bag

Public Enemy Number 1: Plastic Bag

Connecting the dots

Dot 1: A few weeks ago, I read an short note about how China will forbid the giving away of ultra fine plastic bags (below 0.025 millimeter of thickness) starting June 1st. The article appeared in the business supplement Pulso of the Guatemalan Siglo XXI newspaper. The article produced some scary numbers: The Chinese consume about 3 billion plastic bags daily; “… the plastic bags are convenient for the consumers, but they generate grave contamination, waste of energy and resources”, according to the press release by the Chinese government. The article ended with the suggestion by the Chinese government to go back to bags made from textiles and baskets.

Dot 2: The very same day, after reading the article above in my lunch hour, I walked back to the office and sure enough a plastic bag came dancing towards me, just like in the American Beauty film. So what was I to do, but to pull my camera and to start shooting this new enemy. This incident happened right in front of Doña Luisa Xicotencatl restaurant; one of LAG’s landmarks.

Dot 3: I don’t know if it was inspired by the muy loco Guatemalan photo shooting a plastic bag in front of their entrance (can you imagine what kind of show that must’ve been). 😉 Nevertheless, the owners of Doña Luisa Xicotencatl decided to stop giving away plastic bags in their business, beginning with their 30th anniversary, a couple days ago. So to celebrate their 30-year anniversary, they gave away reusable, recyclable vinyl bags to all their frequent customers. You can see the all different sides of the bags and learn about their campaign by clicking the thumbnails below to get a blowup image (No. We are not talking about Cortazar‘s Blowup kind of images). According to the tag in the Doña Luisa Xicotencatl’s bag, plastic bags take about 450 years to be fully destroyed by nature alone.

Dot 4: What are your feelings about plastic bags?

Bolsas viní­licas de Doña Luisa XicotencatlEtiqueta de Bolsas viní­licas de Doña Luisa Xicotencatl
Bolsas viní­licas de Doña Luisa Xicotencatl - limpiarBolsas viní­licas de Doña Luisa Xicotencatl - reciclar

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  • sompopo

    Most all of the grocery stores here use plastic bags. Shoppers at one time had a choice between paper or plastic but now the only choice is plastic. The stores do have plastic bag recycle bins and after months of collecting them we take back to the store for recycling.

  • Jerry T

    All of the grocey stores here are now offering reusable bags for purchase to cut down on the use of plastic bags (also the cost of the plastic bags!). They also offer recycle bins to return those bags. I reuse those plastic bags everyday. I bought something at a large retail department store over the weekend and it had a list of 10 ways to reuse that bag printed on the bag. I thought that was cool.

  • Ya plastic bags are such a waste. In order for us to lessen the impact of their wasteful effect on the environment, the business owners who use them should educate employees and customers on alternate means to transport their purchased goods. Either bring your own reusable bag from home or start charging like they do at many retailers in Europe. IKEA in Houston is now charging 5cents for a plastic bag.

    I also am opposed to the overconsumption and use of paper napkins which generate waste everywhere. Carry a handkerchief like many people do in India.

  • Great composition — and good topic. I esp. hate seeing the bags caught in trees.

  • Here in San Francisco a city-wide ban has been enacted forbidding the use of plastic bags by large-scale retailers. Supermarkets have reverted back to paper bags (which hardly seems better, to a degree) and have begun selling cheap vinyl/canvas bags and offering a couple cents off the sale for reusing a bag. The store I work at, however, has begun using plastic bags designed to bio-degrade within a number of years which is similar to a new variety of garbage bags available on the market. All of this seems, to me, better band-aids for the simple problem that people refuse to be responsible for their needs.

  • The latest craze up here is reusable bags made of cloth or burlap… grocery stores, clothing stores, department stores, they all have their version that they sell you for a buck or so ($1CDN = $1USD approx). Some discount grocery stores (think “Despensa Familiar”) have always charged for plastic bags. Oh… and the use of handkerchief is something I still do as a good old-fashioned Guatemalan.

  • Plastic bags are not even the tip of the ice berg…or in this case, the landfill. However, it is one thing we can do–stop using plastic bags. Being more conscientious about things that affect the environment starts with a discussion about what one person can do right now. Some people feel put off by the overwhelming feeling that despite all efforts, the system is geared toward irresponsible consumption, especially in all things that are deemed “convenient.” Here in the U.S., there is a semblance of an effort to become more proactive. Local governments can play a huge role. My family lives in a city where they have three different containers supplied by the city: One is for the trash, the other one for biodegradable waste (branches, leaves, grass, etc.), and the last one for recycling items (soda cans, water bottles, milk cartons, etc.). So yes, to conclude my long-ass comment (sorry) we started using those reusable bags a while ago. Thank you for your patience. 🙂

  • Ray

    You forgot to mention that Doña Luisa Xicotencatl charges 25 centavos for a plastic bag now and gives customers 50 centavos off if they bring their own bag. That’s a 75 centavos difference between bringing a bag and not bringing one — 3 to 7.5 times more than other businesses in Antigua charge for a plastic bag and way out of line with anything I would call reasonable. As a customer of several years, I resent being screwed like that and will buy my bread elsewhere from now on.