Supermarket hopes to cut waste by shaming customers with embarrassing plastic bags

East West Market a gourmet specialist in Vancouver wants customers to think twice about single-use

East West Market a gourmet specialist in Vancouver wants customers to think twice about single-use

Many of Canada's large companies and grocery retailers have made efforts to reduce the amount of single-use plastics used in its stores, with many charging customers for bags in hopes that it will encourage them to keep in mind to bring reusable ones from home.

"It's hard to always remember a reusable bag".

That was the idea behind a Canadian stores anti-plastics campaign which saw up to 1,000 plastic bags printed with messages such as "Dr. Toews" Wart Ointment Wholesale", "Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium" or "The Colon Care Co-op'.

But a grocer in Vancouver has gone a step further in the battle against single-use plastics, by providing bags with embarrassing slogans to discourage their use.

A video on the store's social media site explained that 1,000,000 plastic bags are used every minute, but that most are filled only once. A grocery store in Vancouver has resorted to "embarassing" plastic bags to keep customers from taking them and in turn, reduce plastic waste.

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Owner David Lee Kwen insists that the idea wasn't actually to embarrass customers, but to make them stop and think about their actions and how they relate to the environment. 'It's human nature not to want to be told what to do'.

Meanwhile, in the US, New York has just joined California and Hawaii by announcing a plan to ban plastic bags.

Unfortunately, the bags have become popular with customers who are now taking them because they are so amusing.

Kwen expected that a fee on single-use bags would deter customers from using them.

But even if some customers are collecting them, others will likely see the bags, and it could make them think, Kwen believes. "It's a double-edged sword", Kwen told VICE. We wanted to address an issue, but we've also made something popular, so it's turned out great. "Our aim was to start a conversation that could go beyond people just remembering their reusable bags when they come to our market-and we're glad that the conversation has kept growing, with anyone who's seen or interacted with the bags".

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