Manthan – Can the Middle Class Dent the demand of Polythene Bags?


Millions of commuters travel every day through metros, trains, buses, private taxis, autos and their own vehicles. Most of us have to buy something or the other while returning home. Some of us are even asked over phone to buy some groceries or some vegetables or some stationery for the child to complete homework. In residential colonies, local vegetable sellers take millions of rounds throughout the country to sell vegetables. Local shopkeepers look at our convenience as a regular customer. And the convenience is a polythene bag – a small foldable polythene bag.

The journey of polythene bags begins – from shopkeepers to our homes and from our homes to the garbage. Spills from the garbage bins and occupies roads, drainage etc. These single use polythene bags reach to the area of no return, or rather, no bio-degradation.

We pay for creating plastic waste and adding to the pollution.

Why can’t we carry our own bag, a simple cloth bag, to buy vegetables or groceries even from the local suppliers? Why we have to depend on our convenience and comfort and accept polythene bags? Don’t we have a choice or is it that we are uncomfortable carrying a cloth/canvas bag and polythene bag looks better?

This is where, the middle-class , counted amongst the majority of Indian population can dent the plastic pollution. We stop insisting to have polythene bags to carry items. If the shopkeeper does not have, we stop expecting him to get anyhow from the nearby shop. We stop looking only for our convenience, our comfort and our necessity. For once we look at the impact this one intentional ignorance leads to – an unintentional damage to the environment.

India currently consumes about 4 kilograms of Polythene per person, and it is expected to increase significantly during the next 25 years to almost 13 kilograms per person, as per a recent study. India is expected to add more than 18 million tonnes of polythene demand by 2041, based on population growth.

Very sadly – ultimately the demand will drive the supply of polythene bags in near future.

Going by the annual consumption of polythene bags, even if we stay away from polythene bags for a day, this is set to reduce significantly the quantum of plastic waste by as much as 25,000 tonnes.

Later, this one day can become a week and even a month. We may not feel the necessity for polythene bags for once, after few years.

Finally, one day, even Kanta Bai will also use only cloth bag for groceries.

“Manthan”, an initiative by Hindustan Zinc, is a series of stories to bring awareness about various concerns like air pollution, water pollution, plastic pollution, noise pollution, climate change, road safety and wildlife protection

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