Plastic Pollution

Anti-Plastic Bag Activists Have a New Weapon: Shame

A Canadian grocery store tried to shame its customers with embarrassing plastic bags.

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In addition to bans, fees, and moral preening, anti-plastic bag advocates have a new trick up their sleeve for inspiring you to bring a reusable tote on your next trip to the grocery store: shame.

Two weeks ago, East West Market, a grocery store in Vancouver, Canada, rolled out a new line of single-use plastic bags for customers who don't bring bags to the store. The bags feature less than flattering business names, including "The Colon Care Co-Op," "Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium," and "Dr. Toew's Wart Ointment Wholesale."

Each bag also features the tagline, "Avoid the shame. Bring a reusable bag."

"It's hard to always remember a reusable bag. We redesigned our plastic bags to help you never forget again," reads the caption to a video announcing the new bags posted to East West Market's Facebook page.

Given the terrible reputation of plastic bags, and the admittedly clever phony business names displayed on East West Market's bags, the business's gambit is earning a lot of positive press, including write-ups in The New York Times and Huffington Post.

The city of Vancouver currently requires businesses to develop strategies for reducing their plastic bag use. It also gives them a menu of policy options for achieving their goals. They can either cease giving out bags, impose a fee on them, or develop "other mechanisms" that will help them reach a bag reduction target set in consultation with the city.

East West Market has chosen a mix of the last two options. The New York Times reports that the store charges 5 cents for every gag bag carried about by a shame-laden customer.

Like a lot of plastic pollution policies, this one may have backfired. Commenters on the store's Facebook page seemed more inclined to use plastic bags now that they come with a joke.

"Please may I buy all three? I promise I will reuse them to tatters," said one woman. "This just makes me want to use your plastic bags even more, sorry not sorry, this is awesome," said another.

That might cut against the grocery store's goals, but the environment will be fine either way.

According to Vancouver's 2017 litter audit, plastic bags make up only 5 percent of all large litter items, and only 17 percent of those bags were plastic retail or grocery bags. By comparison, cups made up 20 percent of all large liter items. Candy and snack wrappers made up 7 percent.

The reusable tote bags that East West Market is pushing can also be terrible for the environment. A number of studies have found that the production of cotton tote bags produces far more emissions than the production of plastic bags.

Regardless, wealthy countries like Canada are responsible for a tiny fraction of marine plastic waste.

Despite their persistent demonization as an environmental menace, plastic grocery and retail bags are generally a small portion of litter, require few resources to produce, and are a super durable and cheap way to hold a bunch of grocery items. We shouldn't feel bad about that.

NEXT: The U.N. Says World Population May Top Out at 10.9 Billion Before 2100. Other Demographers Say It'll Be Much Lower.

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  1. Formaldehyde, you forgot all the formaldehyde found in reusable bags from China.

    1. “Avoid the shame. Shop Elsewhere.”

      1. What shame, according to the original article people are trying to collect the whole set.

  2. Sounds like an eBay opportunity to me.

    1. I totally want one now. I’ll use it every day.

      1. I hope you wash it good in between .

  3. “”Despite their persistent demonization as an environmental menace, plastic grocery and retail bags are generally a small portion of litter, require few resources to produce, and are a super durable and cheap way to hold a bunch of grocery items. We shouldn’t feel bad about that.””

    It was environmentalist that are responsible for the move from paper bags to plastic.

    How about bags made from hemp?

    1. Why not canabis itself? they you can smoke the bags after you get your groceries home.

  4. I was wondering why a business, in Canada or out of it, would deliberately insult its customers, then I saw that the govt requires plastic-bag abatement strategies.

    Always keep an eye out for the bureaucrat in the woodpile.

    1. “Always keep an eye out for the bureaucrat in the woodpile.”

      Or, when someone’s acting against their interest, figure the heavy hand of the government is forcing them to do so.
      Hardly ever wrong.

  5. I think nowadays, the shameful thing about having a bag marked “Adult Video” is that people think you still watch videos on a VCR.

    1. It has a pleasing quality digital can’t reproduce.

      /douchey audiophile

    2. Forget about it, Eddy. It’s Canada.

  6. I live in California, and was forced to go non-plastic years ago. My wife bought me a bag that says “My wife makes me use this bag so people will think I give a shit”

    1. Last time I visited California I went to a Target to get a few things. At checkout I presented plastic bags I brought from my local Target. They didn’t appear pleased.

  7. Hell, Canadians should be ashamed of that crap they call ‘beer’. And don’t get me started on their ‘whisky’.

      1. Utterly ridiculous.

        1. FREEEEEEET!

          Failure to utter obvious pun. 10 yard penalty. First Down.

      2. Lifelong Canadian, never saw milk solid in bags. Where does this “epik maymay” come from?

    1. Unibroue is some of the best beer in the world.

      1. Yeah, but are they good enough to redeem their nation for producing Labatt’s Blue?

      2. Really? You have shitty taste in beer.

        I just finished the last of some La Fin du Monde. It was garbage.

    2. What the hell is wrong with Black Velvet? If you have $12 to spend on a handle, you can do no better.

    3. Canadian “whiskey” (I intentionally use the e since the stuff sucks) is the most milquetoast, and simplistic whisky (or whiskey) out there.

    4. Pabst, Coors, Budweiser, Knob Creek, Mellow Corn, Michter’s US*1, Kentucky Straight Rye, Rieger’s Kansas City, Balcones Baby Blue, Bernheim Original Straight Wheat, Chattanooga 1816 Cask….

      How embarrassing for you.

  8. Shame? Ahahahha that’s a Tuesday motherfuckers.

    Nothing like going to war against your customers tho…

  9. The embarrassment will last about a day until people figure it out and then they will ask for extra bags to send to their friends in the states.

  10. those bags would remind me to go to a different store

  11. I so want those bags.

  12. Half the customers will want them as a joke. The other half will stop shopping there.
    Fucking Canuckistani hippies. Vancouver is the worst.

    1. Well you are, but Canada is close.

      What is up with all your lame ass sockpuppets?

  13. I’ve got an old trick: shamelessness!

  14. Am I the only one who would stop bringing a reusable bag to the store so that I could collect them all?

  15. Plastic breaks down over time into small particles and leaches into our water supplies and beyond. Litter is only a part of pollution from plastic. Governments want people to feel they can do something to reduce polluting.

    1. Oh, look! Fucking concern troll shows up!

      1. Litter is not the only type of pollution plastic presents us with. The article pretends otherwise.

        1. The better way to deal wit this is to eliminate the surplus population. Getting rid of al the whiney progtards should fix everything.

          1. Will it fix your atrocious spelling? There is no edit button. You must be more carefull.

    2. Plastic breaks down over time into small particles and leaches into our water supplies and beyond.

      Bullshit. US water supplies contain no “small plastic particles”.

      There are lots of small plastic particles in the oceans, and that’s somewhat of an environmental problem; overwhelmingly, those come from Asia, not from Whole Foods.

      1. “US water supplies contain no “small plastic particles”

        Tap water around the world contains microplastic contamination. In the US it’s actually worse than the rest of the world. Call your water treatment plant and see if they don’t try to remove as much as they can.

          1. Because I just checked my water treatment plant – my well – and there’s no plastic in there.

            And I’m not certain how plastic gets into underground water reservoirs. I’m not even certain how it gets into above ground ones.

            1. “I’m not even certain how it gets into above ground ones.”

              Have you tried wikileaks?

              1. Wiki leaks plastic?

                So true.

            1. “Yeah he was lying.”

              Of course. Plastic never breaks down and even if it did it would have the good manners to steer clear of drinking water supplies.

              1. Of course. Plastic never breaks down and even if it did it would have the good manners to steer clear of drinking water supplies.

                Sure it does! It breaks down to the point that it’s soluble and leeches into the groundwater. Of course, once it’s broken down and able to be readily dissolved it’s no longer plastic.

                1. “it’s no longer plastic.”

                  They call it microplastic.

                  1. They call you a lying shitbag.

                  2. They call it microplastic.

                    No, “they” don’t. Microplastics don’t leach. They’re dumped or flushed and, even then, they’re removed by standard tap/drinking water treatment processes. In fact, lots of people install gallon-sized reservoirs packed full of microplastics in line with their drinking water source specifically to enhance purity.

                    1. Microplastics are made as plastics, like the bags mentioned in the article, break down. They can end up in our soils or our water supplies which is why we have to take the trouble to try to remove them. They are small but still remain clearly plastic in nature. Moreover, it’s not readily dissolved, as plastic can take a 1000 years or more to break down according to my sources.

                      All this doubtless comes as a shock to those who think that plastic pollution comes only in the form of plastic bags from China floating about in the middle of the Pacific,

        1. Tap water around the world contains microplastic contamination.

          This is only true if you don’t understand the difference between tap water and gray water.

          1. “This is only true if you don’t understand the difference between tap water and gray water.”

            It appears to be true regardless of your appreciation of gray water.

            1. It appears to be true regardless of your appreciation of gray water.

              It’s not even remotely true and the trends in the evidence that does exist stands opposed to your larger hypothesis. Using the upper estimates of the studies using the poorest criteria only 80% of sites sampled had plastics. Repeatedly, well water sources, that is sources that would be most affected from things leaching into the ground water, predominate the ‘microparticle free’ and ‘low-to-undetectable’ part of the spectrum.

              1. “Using the upper estimates of the studies using the poorest criteria only 80% of sites sampled had plastics.”

                I’m talking about microplastics, small, even tiny bits of plastic that are found in tap water around the world. They can also be found in the ocean and soils. Plastic pollution goes beyond chinese bags floating in the ocean, irregardles of the line the articles is trying to peddle here.

    3. . . . leaches into our water supplies

      Please describe the mechanism by which plastic leaches into ‘our’ water supplies.

      1. It’s an evil plot by the Crab People!!!!!!!

        Crab People……..Crab People…………..

        1. The avocados are marching.

  16. Global warming activists should love plastic bags: instant carbon sequestration. The more the merrier.

    1. There’s no such thing as a free plastic bag.

      1. There’s no such thing as “Plastic breaks down over time into small particles and leaches into our water supplies and beyond.”

        You lying shitbag.

        1. “lying shitbag”

          Plastic bags. Shitbags are OK.

          1. You’re lying, shitbag.

            1. Don’t worry about it Sevo. When I’m lying I’ll be sure to let you know. Meanwhile, a black spam flag is coming your way. Enloy.

  17. Who. Reads. Plastic. Bags. Not my go-to choice of reading material.

  18. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with landfills. Once it’s full they could ski on it.

  19. And when they are turned inside out?

  20. I don’t have time to clean the cloth ones after every use, and the plastic ones I use for small trash cans and picking up dog shit. Besides, doesn’t a load of laundry use like 20 gallons of water? Fuck these people.

  21. Edible bags are the answer. Look at how we’ve mitigated the environment affects of underwear by adopting that solution.

    1. anything you eats still comes back out and has to be dealt with there are no perfect solutions only mitigations

      1. Just remember:
        All food is wasted. It is just a matter of what it does in the mean time.

      2. I’m pretty sure my toilet has a matter transmitter that egresses into the sun, which mean my waste comes back as lovely green sunlight.

  22. single-use plastic bags

    Fuck you Christian, the merchant doesn’t get to dictate the use(s) of the item once it’s left their store and you’re encouraging the socialist shit heels by letting them think they can.

  23. Two weeks ago, East West Market, a grocery store in Vancouver, Canada, rolled out a new line of single-use plastic bags for customers who don’t bring bags to the store. The bags feature less than flattering business names, including “The Colon Care Co-Op,” “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium,” and “Dr. Toew’s Wart Ointment Wholesale.”

    And the multiple-use hate speech and slut/LGBTQ-shaming ban hammers fell quickly… right?

  24. > Two weeks ago, East West Market, a grocery store in Vancouver, Canada, rolled out a new line of single-use plastic bags

    Well there’s one store I will never visit! Hell, I’m thinking of flying up to Vancouver for the express purpose of NOT visiting that store!

    What the fuck is it with Proggies and their obsession with shaming? I said it once and I’ll say it again, progressives are just left leaning puritans.

    1. They are for it, except when they are against it.

  25. I didn’t know colon care was shameful. Canadians have weird ideas.

  26. If a store did that in the States , I would start asking for a separate bag for each item. I want all the plastic bag I can get . Make great trash can liners . Might even frame some of the batter slogans. I have no shame

  27. In all seriousness, I would have NO problem with a bag that said “weird adult video store”. I don’t go around yelling about my libertine, hedonist kinks to the world. But I am not embarrassed to admit I have some.

  28. Virtuous virtue signalling. When you can’t really do anything useful, virtue signal. It’s the new motto of Canada and the U.S.

  29. […] If you don’t bring your own reusable bags to the East West Market in Vancouver, you might find yourself being on the receiving end of an embarrassing situation. In order to inspire customers to bring their own bags, the management launched an initiative to use a peculiar line of single-use plastics. […]

  30. Every time I go somewhere not run by insane progs, I love me some plastic bags so much! The super thin ones are banned where I live, you can only buy the ultra thick ones for $.10, or paper for $.05, so I usually get paper.

    I can’t wait until i move…

  31. […] Anti-Plastic Bag Activists Have a New Weapon: Shame: A ideia parece boa. Criar sacos de plástico com mensagens que deixam quem os usa supostamente envergonhados. Com base nesta imagem, suspeito que o efeito seja o oposto. Pessoalmente, adoraria andar na rua com um destes sacos do VHS video emporium… […]

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