In China, returning to greener preplastic shopping tech

In the wake of Chinese authorities banning ultrathin plastic grocery bags in an effort to reduce waste, a supermarket manager remembers what he used to use.

Chinese authorities in January announced they would ban ultrathin plastic bags , and make customers pay for reusable canvas grocery bags , in an effort to reduce waste.

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A Beijing Review article quotes a Hangzhou supermarket manager on the old days, when shopping didn't produce billions of bags worth of waste that will biodegrade only after 200 years, if at all.

"When I was a child, my mother always took me to the vegetable market with a bamboo basket. She put a bowl in the basket for holding bean curd. When we bought sugar powder or salt, the sellers would wrap them with a piece of paper. I miss those days very much," Jin said.

The main purpose of promoting the (canvas) bags is to encourage the consumers to reuse the materials, he added. Some old living habits should not be thrown away, no matter how fast the economy has developed.

I would worry a little bit about my ability to move tofu in a bowl on my bike in Beijing, but I'm more or less onboard with the initiative. It's sometimes hard to convince cashiers that I'd like to put my food in the canvas bag with my books and computer. I've never thought of bringing an old jar when buying grains, but that wouldn't be a bad idea at all!

About the author

    Formerly a journalist and consultant in Beijing, Graham Webster is a graduate student studying East Asia at Harvard University. At Sinobyte, he follows the effects of technology on Chinese politics, the environment, and global affairs. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.

     

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