Just Say “No” to Plastic Bags Nepal

Yesterday we visited Bhat-Bhateni Super Store and stumbled upon a brand new environmental initiative.

Bhat-Bhateni is now encouraging shoppers to use re-usable plastic bags and is also selling re-usable branded bags. I quickly visited the Bhat-Bhateni web site and found their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) page which says:

From mid June 2009, Bhat-Bhateni is promoting the ‘Just Say No to Plastic Bags’ campaign along with Kathmandu University and Nagarik & RepĂșblica. Customers wishing to use plastic bags will be charged Rs. 1 per bag while the environmentally friendly bag will be available for Rs. 15. The proceeds will contribute towards improving the environment.

We immediately requested to buy a reusable bag, which I think was even a surprise to the cashier.

“It costs 15 rupees!”

Looking perplexed at her response, I said “Thikka chha (it’s okay)” and then did my spew about it causes less pollution and that the Bagmati river is already full of plastic bags. She smiled and proceeded to check our items out.

As we were leaving, I started to notice that hardly anybody in the department store was using reusable bags themselves. While waiting for Tlell as she was purchasing more produce, I watched several customers in the check out continue to use and request plastic bags (there was not even a sales push by cashiers). Intensely, I was watching each customer check out while cheering to myself for the moment that a reusable bag will appear.

“Alright, this person has their own bag….uh, nope, okay next one yup, she reaching for it….ahh, oh, maybe, OHHHH, nope another plastic bag. Well… maybe this one…and no.”

Ah well, slowly but surely perhaps, but so far, reusable bag activities haven’t been happening during my watch.

The next day, like an excited kid that just got a new toy for his birthday, I went out shopping to my local shops with my new reusable bag at hand. Shopkeepers always see me with my own reusable bag but this time my new bag has Nepali script saying “Just Say No to Plastic Bags”…aahhhaaa (wow), I’m proudly parading it, sticking it to them and making statement.

(oh yes, these are some of the fun things that I do in Kathmandu – hey that rhymed).

Reactions to my bag:

  • My Fruit Shop people were happy and congratulatory about the reusable bag initiative.
  • Blue Bird Department store didn’t say anything mostly because I think it is because the bag is from their big-box-walmart competitor Bhat-Bhateni. They kind of scoffed at it.
  • Blue Moon Department store wasn’t surprised as well as they already have heard about the initiative before. In my previous post, Blue Moon was actually thinking of selling their own reusable bags but I guess now they never got around to do it.

This whole plastic bag issue has been a popular topic on my mind lately. Earlier this week, I had the rare occasion of walking over the Kupondole bridge from Patan to Kathmandu. As I wistfully glanced  towards the river expecting to see another glum scene, to my surprise I saw 3 individuals working in the river trying to clean up the garbage.

I immediately stopped, in mid-step (the person behind me almost collided into me) feeling completely amazed but also feeling slightly guilty for thinking that nobody here cared about their rivers.

Bagmati River in Kathmandu
Bagmati River in Kathmandu
Bagmati River in Kathmandu
Bagmati River in Kathmandu



And finally, while watching previews before Terminator Salvation started, I noticed an advertisement from the National Trust for Nature Conservation asking people to use less plastic bags.

Slowly but surely…


One comment on “Just Say “No” to Plastic Bags Nepal”
  1. rexfiles says:

    Update: Bluebird Department store (http://bluebird.com.np) has finally joined in and is encouraging customers to not use plastic bags.

    Of course they are selling their own reusable bags for 15 rupees.