No more plastic bags at 7 Eleven and major department stores

7 Eleven has implemented no plastic bag policy starting from January 2020. When you walk in to 7 Eleven now, you would not get a plastic bag for the items that you have purchased. So if you are going into the store to buy some burgers, ready made meals, drinks, bread, daily essentials, do not that these items would not be bagged into a plastic bag.

However, if you requesting for your food to be heated up, for example your burgers or sandwiches, then a small plastic bag will be provided for you because the food would be too hot to be held with bare hands.

Other major department stores like Central, Tesco Lotus are also adopting the same policy. For those who are used to shop at Makro, you would not find it difficult to adapt because all along Makro never provides plastic bags. Customers would place all items in the trolley, pay at the checkout counter and then proceeded to load the items into their cars.

However, at the moment if you visit the normal wet markets or stalls, plastic bags would still be provided. It would be too difficult for small business owners and market sellers to discontinue the use of plastic bags all together.

Therefore the next time when you are going for shopping or dropping by at 7 Eleven to do some shopping, please remember to bring your own recycle bags. You can find fancy recycle or tote bags at Daiso, Komonoya and to buy in bulk, you can visit Sampeng.

Experience sharing from no plastic implementation in Malaysia and how the policy can benefit Thailand

I am a Malaysian. When I was growing up, plastic bags were used indiscriminately. Really, sometimes when you buy 10 items, some generous cashiers would bag it into 5 plastic bags. And these bags are always being used once only.

Then few years ago, the local municipal decided to introduce no plastic bag every Saturday. I believe they would have done a study and realized that Saturday is the day where most people do their grocery shopping or visit shopping complexes. However, they still provide the option for those who insist to use the plastic bag- that customers would be charged 20 sen per piece (less than 2 baht) of plastic bag. So if you require 5 plastic bags, you would need to pay RM1 for them.

Initially (just in what had happened in Thailand), many people were caught by surprise when this was implemented in my city. Even though there have been many awareness campaigns and billboard announcements posted all over the city. Sometimes they are aware but they either forgot to bring their own recycle bags or the bags were not enough. Or many guys who prefer not to carry bags would not have recycle bags in handy.

For first few months, there were many complaints- some people accused that this was not for the environment but simply to cut cost, some threaten to boycott the shops and shop in another place, etc. And then you have foreigners or folks that took public transport to the store and would be forced to pay for the plastic bags.

But slowly, people start to adapt to the change. Many started bringing their recycle bags to shop even on other days. Eventually, from just Saturdays, it is now everyday.

Actually I have been exposed to many overseas campaign for a long time and is well aware that many countries have stopped using plastic bags long time ago for the sake of the environment. So it was not hard for me to adopt the approach. After a while, I’ve learned to always keep supplies of recycle bags in my car and my bag. I also find that once I minimize the use of plastic bag, there is less clutter in my home (when I did my spring cleaning, the amount of plastic bags that my family kept used to drive me crazy).

Now in Malaysia, it becomes so common to see people declining plastic bags. Families would bring recycle bags when they shop for groceries or items. If they need a plastic bag, then they know they would need to pay 20 sen for each piece.

I must admit that when I stay in Thailand, initially I had a little culture shock in the form of plastic bags after years of being used to recycle bags. Plastic bags were being used for anything and everything. It is seldom that I see anyone bringing their own recycle bags and bagging their items in them. Plastic containers are used to package the food, then bagged in plastic bags. And a plastic spoons and straws are handed out regardless the customers ask for it or not. Then often these plastic bags, often in good condition are just thrown away in the trash.

In the beginning, many people are going to find the change very uncomfortable. But I believe Thais, being naturally friendly, easygoing and understanding folks would surely adapt to this in no time. Having experienced the policy being implemented in Malaysia, I am glad that Thailand is also doing the same.

It is not about reducing the business operating cost or just inconveniencing people. Bottom line, plastic bags are bad for the environment and it is the majority of trash that I see in trashbins and filling up the landfills. Very soon, there would be no more place to put all these trash. Some places would choose to burn the trash and this releases very toxic gas and pollutes the environment.

When we get used to life with minimal plastic bags, it becomes natural to just fold up a couple of recycle bags to keep in the car and our handbags or backpack. And each time when we buy groceries and clear them, we have much less things to throw away.

The next step is that the government would look into reducing or gradually banning styrofoam which often is used for food takeaways. Some towns in Malaysia have totally banned the use of styrofoam and any business, big or small who are found to be using styrofoam to pack their food would be fined.

When the towns introduced this move, there were literally no complaints. Because people are becoming increasingly aware of the damage of styrofoam such as:

  • they are almost not biodegradable
  • the chemicals in styrofoam can leach into the food and there are studies that link this to cancer
  • burning them releases toxic gas
  • many ended up in the ocean and killing the sealife like the turtles that ate them (because these are often mistaken as food)
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