I have a confession to make.
My only vices are over purchasing books and bags. I don't smoke, I don't gamble, I rarely even drink alcohol. But I'm ashamed to admit, that I, a sane individual, has succombed to a vice that has gone out of control. Hoarding Eco Bags.
I rarely took notice of eco bags the first time it went out but slowly, and more than ever, will you find that most stores nowadays have eco bags, taunting me to give in. From SM, to Purple Oven, to Japanese Daiso shops. Yes, I have it all and more. I have all sorts of eco bags from SM which releases designs as much as they go on a sale. I rarely go shopping but when I do, rest assured that whenever they offer an eco bag, I'm so buying it. Mercury Drug? Are you kidding me? I'm buying 5 tablets of Vitamin E and that bag is mine even if it costs more than what I went there for. My latest addition would be Mom's Ensaymadas, who the sales lady, as much as she's trying to convince me to buy their ensaymadas, would only have cash for their pink eco bag. What's more astonishing is that I enjoy buying those stuff that I have plenty of them already (I rarely repeat buying same old bag unless I'm doing grocery) and I DON'T REALLY CARE. But in spite of me being happy with a new found
The "Plastic is Bad" Propaganda
Years ago, plastic was doing fine being the best and take note, THE ONLY option in buying groceries and everything else. No one complained, no one paid extra for a bag and no one even heard of an eco bag. Paper bags never existed other than clothing boutiques and for a good purpose. I'll tell you more in a few minutes.
Later on, as people and 'politicians' become more 'aware' of this global warming thingy, everyone started to blame the good 'ol plastic bag being the culprit in climate change. Who knows if they understood it, but Governors and Mayors jumped in pointing their fingers to plastic bags as culprits, taking pride in making their city 'Plastic-Free'.
Everyone started hailing the return of bayongs and knitted baskets. Local weavers who used local materials that are more 'Earth Friendly' than light and cheap plastic bags rejoiced in this new found attention to their products. Or so they thought.
If you've seen shoppers especially those in groceries, you know that it is rare to find someone who hauls just one bag of goods. Most Pinoys tend to do grocery every 2 weeks, lucky ones do it every week, and even lesser are those who do so in twice or thrice a week.
With that thought in mind, a basket or just one bayong is simply not enough to put in 2 weeks worth of grocery. I don't even need to mention that one bayong cannot exactly hold detergent, fish, eggs, shampoo and tissue without proper segregation. What's more, since most groceries tend to be really heavy, handles of light weight bayongs would only do more harm than good AND even if you chose heavy duty ones, then it will be much much more heavier. What's more, you can't necessarily buy it from the mall right? Entrepreneurs saw this as a new golden egg. They came up with a win-win situation that will make buyers feel they win, but more so, in favor to them
The Industry that is the Eco Bag
The solution they came up was creating reusable bags that will make consumers feel like they contribute to an already plastic infested environment (lol for the pun). They made plastic free days and rejoiced when politicians declare plastic free cities. They do replace it with brown paper bags, but most Pinoys tend to choose a sturdier option, which is the Eco Bag. Pinoys aren't really used to having paper bags, and to a very good reason.
Going back to the said grocery pattern of Pinoys, we tend to buy stuff in plenty that paper bags aren't reliable to our needs. Most of all, most of us don't have cars to put stuff into, making us carry that bag from store to home. The other day one mom (with a kid) had an unlucky day when the paper bag she was carrying tore up on cue just as she was getting off the jeep. All her groceries were all over the street and the jeep as well. She was so helpless I wished I had a bag right then that I might have given to her. In my situation it was easy for me to simply buy a new bag (if I forgot one) but how about those who are in strict budget? Eco bags range from 30 pesos to a ridiculous 200 pesos mark and buying one out of the budget is not an option to most, unfortunately.
And you know why it doesn't work? Because most just buy eco bags, buy more when they forget it, until they give up, opting for the non sturdy paper bag instead. Repeat till fade. While in Hongkong and Korea they made sure that you pay for the plastic bag you use making you much more aware of the cost, here, we simply made a new much more expensive bag that will benefit the sellers the most.
The Losers of this Game
I wonder how plastic manufacturers cope up with this sudden low in demand of plastic. Yes we still use them in our meat, packaging and the likes but one less order is a huge impact on the industry. I'm not defending the bad effects of plastic but I think that we are in a hype of a serious issue here. You can be happy all you want that you are lessening the effects of 'global warming' in your own way, but if you're the daughter of that guy who is laid off in his work because of decrease in plastic demand, it's not remotely funny.
What's more, it's hypocritical to say that it's the plastic's fault that it found it's way in fishes' guts. Remember the time you went to an outing and that plastic from the banana you bought came flying to the stream? How about when you ate that ice candy you bought from Aleng Bale and disposed it mercilessly in an open estero?
Needless to say, plastic bags are at most non biodegradable and they're here to stay much longer than your grandson's grandson will. The moment one gets into the trash we rarely care about it anymore. But as far as everyone's concerned, not only are you the end consumer, you're also the one with the brain. Don't blame it on plastic. Why, must your head be that small you can't think of how to dispose that plastic you are holding properly? Hmm... just as I thought.