In an attempt to cut down on the environmental blight of plastic bags, the provincial legislature of Buenos Aires passed a measure banning the use of environmentally-unfriendly bags in supermarkets. As of October 15, 2009, supermarkets and hypermarkets in the Province of Buenos Aires must use degradable or biodegradable bags. Smaller markets were given an additional year to come into compliance with the law.
A few months back, in preparation for the new law, displays of reusable cloth "Eco-bolsas" sprang up at our local supermarkets with a bit of signage explaining the benefits of using reusable shopping bags. The plastic bag legislation represents an important step forward, and I applaud the modest efforts at raising environmental awareness and promoting green alternatives (even if they are partially [or completely] financially motivated).
Daniel and I usually bring our reusable cloth shopping bag with us when we run errands around town, and we frequently get funny looks for refusing a plastic bag. It seems that some cashiers have an instinctive reflex to bag even the smallest item, and sometimes they just won't take "no" for answer. At least now when customers are bullied into accepting a grocery bag, they'll receive a more environmentally-sound option at the supermarket checkout thanks to the new law.
Unfortunately, litter and waste management are real problems here in Argentina. While the issue of plastic bags may seem like a drop in the bucket in comparison to the country's larger problem of trash and what to do with it, it's promising to see that the province is taking a step toward a greener Argentina.
[Photo credit: ThreadBeaur]