Friday, May 23, 2008

One plastic bag can go a long way

This morning as I was folding some plastic bags I remembered Bachya Khamisa. He is a fine craftsperson and the most respected man in his community.

The Vadas are a marginalized community literally living on the fringe. They are nomadic people, gathering food as they move around, occasionally making turned wood household objects like rolling pins, mortar and pestle etc to make a living. The lathe they use is primitive, similar to the one used in Egypt thousands of years ago, but their imagination is not limited. They decorate the objects with psychedelic designs in lacquer. I had gone to work with them two years back.

Bachaya came to meet me at the hotel to negotiate the logistics of the workshop I wanted to conduct. I noticed that men in these parts carry their entire briefcase in their shirt pocket. Their beedis(local cigarettes), money, phone book, papers etc. I gave him some samples to take back with him; he took out a neatly folded plastic bag from his pocket to carry them.

A plastic bag, which we use daily, for veggies, for milk, bread, fruits and throw away carelssly. Every day an average person uses up to 10 bags and the reason they will give is that they can’t remember to carry one from home! Sure some of us try to reuse them but after a point there are so many you can’t help but throw some.

Since then I always carry a foldable bag in my hand bag and all the occasional plastic bags that come in are folded meticulously and bound with a rubber band (i reuse the ones that come with our newspaper everyday!) and left at the console near the entrance of the house, whoever goes out can pick one so they don’t have to use any fresh plastic covers! S has not picked up this habit yet and continues with his I-have-better-things-to-do attitude.

What is priceless is the reactions I receive from shop keepers. In an age where people ask for a separate bag for each item I am met mostly with a confused smile. My regular vegetable seller is not very happy when I land up with my used bags. He is so used to pulling out bags from the fresh pile that it seems like an extra effort for him to use the used bags. I might sound like a fanatic but I am determined to reduce the plastic bag menace in of my life!


Anita said...

That is such a super idea - to make them so handy - a reminder as well leave the house!

You are right, even with recycling and taking my own bag to the Mother Dairy vegetable shop, I end up with just too many of the plastic kind.

Jyothi Unniraman said...

Superb idea !Keep up the good work! One man with conviction makes a majority.

gautam chintamani said...

Good one. I usually refuse plastic bags. If i still end up with one, it becomes the garbage bag. But that still can't beat the thought of carrying one around