Thousands of single use plastic bags for shopping!

We’re in 2021 and I’m still wondering why people are using plastic bags when they go shopping. How is this possible when there is so much information about how these single-use plastics can damage the environment. I decided to investigate. I did some research about how many plastic bags an average person uses when they go shopping. I went in a well named local fruit and veg shop in my village and spent some time there.

A typical trolley of customers in the shop.
Photo shot by myself

I looked around and most of the people had a basket full of plastic bags. Some people use 1 plastic bag for just 1 coloured pepper. I asked the owner how many plastic bags are used on average and he told me a lot. He couldn’t give me an exact number but says on average every person uses 5 bags. When the owner asked them why they use a plastic bag for just 1 coloured pepper, their answer was if they keep the veg in a plastic bag in the fridge, it stays fresher. I decided to research if this is true or not. According to some articles I found out that many fruits produce gas which ripens them faster and so they spoil much quicker. Vegetables need to breathe too so in order for them to remain crisp and fresh you need to poke holes in the plastic bags. Let us say that this shop caters for around 50 families. In a week, if they visit the shop once, these 50 families would have used up 250 plastic bags per week. This means that in a year, one small shop in a village, gives out a total of 13,000 single use plastic bags. And that’s a lot!

I concluded that using a reusable mesh bag for storing fruits and vegetables would have the same effect as storing them in a plastic bag with holes.

Showing customers my mesh bags and how to use them.

When I went back to the shop I decided to talk to the people and show them my mesh bags. I also told them about the research I had done which shows that fruit and vegetables need to breath in the fridge too so using mesh bags would still have the same benefits. I encouraged them to start using mesh bags and also tried to encourage the fruit and vegetables shop in my village to start selling these as well. Some people did not know about this alternative.

Fortunately, 8 out of 10 young adults in my class avoid using plastic bags but people over 50 years of age tend to use lot of plastic bags.

How can we convince more people to use bags that are reusable, washable and a great replacement for plastic bags? How can we convince people to buy and make use of these reusable bags? I think there should be even more awareness and promotion for the use of mesh bags, perhaps on social media or on TV and billboards. Government initiatives such as giving each household 3 mesh bags could help promote this too.

Young people have a duty to educate their families too because after all they are the ones who will inherit the planet. By using reusable bags, we will also do our part in protecting the environment. Our reusable bags can save the planet!

Benjamin Vella
Year 7.1 Copenhagen

Promoting the use of mesh bags in my local fruit and vegetables shop. 

This article by Benjamin Vella is an entry for the Young Reporters for the Environment.

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