Saturday, January 23, 2016

Argentina Now Charges for Plastic Bags to Save the Environment

On October 2015, supermarkets across Argentina started charging 40 cents per plastic bag to encourage the Argentine people to start using those eco-friendly reusable bags. Some mom and pop shops have even stopped providing plastic bags altogether and it has some people hopping mad!

While the concept certainly seems like a noble effort to save the environment, this change has had a few setbacks.

For starters, the law states that supermarkets can't charge for plastic bags and people have been voicing their outrage on social media. Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped supermarkets like Libertad, Disco, VEA, Super Mami, or Walmart from continuing to charge their customers for bags. Also, as upset as customers are, they are continuing to buy plastic bags, which seems to defeat the policy's intended purpose. 
Some people claim that this is a cheap tactic from supermarket chains to milk even more money from customers. Now honestly, I crap more expensive things than a 40 cent bag, so I don't mind paying a little extra to get 5 or 6 bags to put my groceries in. However, since the cost of a lot of supermarket items continues to rise like crazy, it's clear that it will continue to become an issue with some of the locals.

So why don't I jump on the eco-friendly train and buy reusable grocery bags? It's simple. I use plastic bags to throw my trash out on a daily basis. Now you're probably asking yourself, "Why don't I just buy a large black bag and throw it out on garbage day (which is everyday here except for Saturdays)?"
In a lot of neighborhoods, black bags are an issue because some assume that black bags contain something valuable. So someone, usually a person who is homeless or really poor, will come by and rip the bag apart with a knife or their bare hands and then leave the homeowner to do all the clean up. This has happened to me and several of my neighbors on many occasions.

Buying a garbage can is also out of the question. There are shady people lurking all over, and they're often that next door neighbor that waves at you every time they see you. You can certainly buy yourself a trash can but it will likely vanish the moment you turn your back on it.
So now when I go to the supermarket I get the option to buy a green or black plastic grocery bag. The green is for dry trash like bread crumbs, paper, plastic bottles and anything else that's not mushy or wet. The black is for the soggy stuff like leftover spaghetti or stew that we simply don't feel like keeping in the fridge. Both bags are made with biodegradable material and trust me it shows and feels like they are because the material is SO CHEAP!

I honestly never expected this policy of charging for plastic bags to last beyond Christmas let alone the end of January 2016. At this time it remains unclear whether the government will step up to the plate and stop these supermarket chains from charging for shopping bags.