Environment

Imagine a public market without plastic bags…

When will the most environmentally friendly food be packed in something that is not plastic?

Whilst some supermarkets in Belgium start charging the customers for the plastic bags it is sad to see that in public markets in my Brussels neighbourhood, where the freshest food can be found, the plastic is still everywhere and for free.

It felt strange to see how a normal young hippy-happy family with three children who were queuing before me in one of these market grocery shops, left the market with more than 20 plastic bags. The family left the market carrying 4 or 5 plastic bags each of them, almost empty…

It is a paradox that in the public markets, where the freshest food can be found especially in summer, plastic bags are a lot more present than in supermarkets, the main representative of mass-consumption.

The democratic instruments such as regulation on bans or taxes on plastic bags can be better implemented in big supermarkets than in public markets. Yet if we want pubic markets to keep its share as providers of season food, supporting producers living in the city surroundings and hence support self-sufficiency and avoid all the pollution of importing the fruits from the other side of the world an effort needs to be made to educate consumers in public markets to bring their shopping carts or cloth bags instead of opting to ask for a plastic bag.

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7 Comments

  1. Than you probably wouldn’t agree with me.
    http://imitja.eu/2008/10/06/the-planet-is-fine-the-people-are-fed/

  2. I see that we are using clowns as gurus these days 🙂

    If looking a bit more seriously in the issue you can see that:
    By separating garbage the consumer is not only doing a favour to the recycling industry and the environment (which both seem irrelevant for you) but to him/her pocket and children. The citizen is paying taxes to get the garbage collected but also to dispose of it in incinerators and landfills (both options beeing the most expensive and unecological). If it is separated correctly it is a lot attractive for recyclers which means they are willing to cover the costs of collection = less costs for the citizen.
    By increasing recycling you reduce extraction and transport costs (and polution) from sometimes unstable states which in a functioning market economy should reduce again the prices for the consumers.
    The plastic bags even though small in weight have major effects in promoting throw-away society and increasing the costs for everyone in the mid-long run (when mixed with organic waste prevent the right composting, when thrown in the seas or land kill endangered espices, are always a problem for seawge discharges because they block the pipes, etc, etc. etc…).

  3. Tina Fistravec

    Hey Joan Marc!

    First, I like your blog a lot (have just discovered it:)).

    Secodn, since you seem to know a bit more about it – I’ve noticed that they are re-introducing paper bags in some big stores in Slovenia. They ofcourse cost more, but nevertheless. Do you – calculating the whole carbon cicle of a product and waste issue – think this is a part of a solution? Unfortunately to me they dont seem to be made out of recycled paper – yet… PS: I have been shopping with Ikea bag (the big blue one made of textil), it works well on drawing attention!:))

  4. Re-introducing paper bags is one of the possible sollutions. Even if they are not made of recyclable paper the good thing of paper is that it can be composted -unless is has to many chemicals-.
    The real sollution as I see it is about replacing the throw-away concept -be it paper or plastic, one-use bags are a waste-. The bags or troleys should be reused, and if you want to reuse them they have to be made of better quality materials. How to do that? In some countries like Macedonia they ban plastic bags: http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2008/09/29/feature-02 in some others they charge money to desincentivate its use…
    What matters in the end is that people are supposed to think twice its actions and I think market should reflects the price. And the economic and above all environmental cost of a plastic bag is way beyond the 0 eur that we are paying.
    Consequences: http://manila.estancabigas.com/gigiecruz5.html

  5. Anonymous

    Reusing paper bags is the worse and most uneducated solution ever! it is proven that paper is LESS eco friendly in EVERY WAY than plastic, one of the reasons why plastics were introduced is because trees were being chopped down to produce more paper bags thus kills earth drastically, and their solution was plastic and now you want to return to paper? are you people insane?! did you even make a research before saying anything?

    Plastic is the technology that can save earth, we people just misuse it and want to put a blame on something. Everything can have a bad effect if we misuse it, we shouldn’t put the blame on something rather we should put a blame on someone(PEOPLE LIKE US).

  6. Nobody talked about reusing paper bags. The most eco friendly and better-looking solution is reusable cloth bags that you can use many times and mend when broken.

    Regarding paper being less ecofriendly than plastic; can you name any study or something to prove what you are arguing? Paper in the sea or the environment biodegrades quickly and carbon goes back to the soil. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade and when animals eat it then it enters the food-chain and you end up eating it… then you get problems.
    Happy to continue discussing…

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