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Eco-friendly shopping, need of the hour

S.Aishwarya

— Photo: M. Karunakaran

Catching up: Trendy cloth bags are being promoted as an alternative to plastic bags.

CHENNAI: Every time you walk out of a shopping mall lugging a bag of your purchase, have you ever wondered that your plastic shopping bag can cause permanent damage to the environment?

Manufacturers of plastic bags concede that despite widespread environmental awareness campaigns, the demand for plastic bags is only on the rise.

“I receive clients who are retailers who insist on buying the cheapest possible plastic bags. Sadly, environment is no longer a concern to many,” said Hussain Colombowala, co-proprietor of Banco Agencies, a paper and plastic manufacturing company in George Town.

Nonetheless, a few eco-conscious shops have evolved new ways to make shopping eco-friendly. Sivagami Super Market, Adambakkam, is one of the shops that received the Exnora’s Enviro Green Star Award for doing away plastic bags. The shop has now stocked up cloth bags in three sizes depending on the purchases.

“But as they are expensive, we are not giving them out for free. Instead we bill the bag along with other items. When the customers come back the next time, they can return the bag and get the money back,” said A. Kasiraja, who runs the supermarket.

Upasana, a design unit of Auroville, under its project ‘Small Steps,’ has come up with a compact cloth bags that could be shrunk to a size of a cell phone. “It can be hooked to a handbag or waist belt. Our aim is to bring about a convenient alternative to plastics,” said Uma N. Aruldev of Small Steps. Proceeds from the sale of the bags are given as financial aid to rural women who are involved with the project.

Naina Shah, vice-president of Exnora International, said people must make a conscious effort to carry bags when they go out for shopping. Ganga Devi of Eco Green Unit, which manufactures paper bags, said the cost of paper bags is almost three times that of plastic bags. “Paper bags are not as fragile as they look and can hold good amount of weight. Shoppers must come forward to adopt eco-friendly measures and cost should not be a deterrent,” she said.

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