Honestly, plastic bags have got to be the scumiest scum of the earth. They block drains, plug rivers, hang in trees, blow across the plains and, (this one was new to me,) they poison the earth! There are so many of them ground down into the layers of soil here in Africa that they are actually souring the beautiful earth and inhibiting the ground from bringing forth to her fullest potential.
I first moved to East Africa in 1984 and most everything we bought came in a tin or was wrapped in paper. Very few items were wrapped in plastic. Many things you simply carried in your own basket. Like fruit and vegetables. We carried baskets to the market for those.
The good thing about tins is that they were used over and over. Re-cylced, they were. A tin of margarine or tomato paste, when emptied, was made into a little oil burning lamp for someone's house. The paper was burned, or it biodegraded into the earth.
It wasn't perfect. But it seemed manageable.
Slowly by slowly, as my Kenyan friends say, the slippery plastic bag grew in popularity and power.
Now, 23 years later, I find East Africa covered in the slimy things. It's really GROSS!
"No, no, no!" The governments of East Africa are saying "NO!" They have decided that these plastic bags are ruining the land at many levels and they are actually legislating against them. I'm happy about it, though I wonder to myself how they will enforce it. Like getting the cafes in southern Europe to enforce the no smoking in public places rule. Good luck!
I guess they can move toward the closure of factories that make them. I don't know about how all that works and I do hope that families don't get run out of business by it. But I am rejoicing in the idea of baskets, jute and cloth bags enjoying a resurgance of chic.
On a positive note: There are cottage industries
True confession--Even in my righteous indignation I am a regular forgetter of my basket when I go to the shops :-( Grrrr! I'm trying to be better.