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China replaces plastic bags with cloth

Yan Yan in Beijing

Last weekend, something embarrassing happened to Greenbang in the supermarket.

She walked into the supermarket and picked up something she didn’t plan to buy. And when she was in a line waiting to pay, she suddenly realized she did not have a grocery bag with her, while the old lady before her had one, and the young man after her also fumbled his out of his briefcase.

She guessed she had three options:

1) pay for a cloth bag which costs 3 RMB ( it is not expensive, but almost the half of the price of the stuff she wanted to buy

2) use the plastic bags the supermarket offer which made her the only one in this line who use plastic bag.

3) drop the stuff, buy them next time when she brings her grocery bag. Shrewd and face-saving Greenbang  chose the third one.

We’ve got less than one month left to the strict ban on plastic bags in the supermarket in June.

Cloth grocery bags, which were barely seen in China before the ban was issued, becomes the must-have for every family.

Prices range from free to several hundred yuan RMB, which indicates a new business and a huge market. At an import and export fair last month, a variety types of cloth bags were shown by some fabric companies who are eager to open up the marker originally belonged to the plastic bags, according to Xinhua news (Chinese link)

This “Green bag” business does not only benefit the fabric manufacturer.  Epson launched its grocery bag design competition and Nokia gave out its fancy cloth bag for free to housewives in some communities in Beijing several weeks ago.

Of course, those bags all have their companies’ logos on, which might be a kind of “soft ad”.

Some local real estate agents are more straightforward – just put their ads on the bags and everyone who carries this bag help to promote them.

Greenbang could not imagine life without plastic bags a few months ago, and was worried about how the ban on plastic bags really carried out and whether people would accept this “radical” policy.

But it seems going well at the moment, and with the help of so many pretty grocery bags, people will get rid of their relationship with plastic bags soon.  In case the same embarrassing thing happens again in the supermarket, Greenbang now puts a grocery bag in her handbag.

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