One of the common sights that I come across every morning when I go on my walk is the ‘pav wala’ on his bicycle. On hearing his bell, people used to come out of their houses with money in hand, pay him, receive their requirement in their hands and go back. If they intended buying large quantities, they carried a container in their hands. No plastic bags. These days I notice that the fellow puts his ware, just two or three pieces even, in a plastic bag and hands it over. No one refuses the bag.It bothers me. I feel that there is no need for a plastic bag to take two or three ‘pavs’ (small loaves of bread) from the door step to the kitchen. I am against unnecessary use of plastic bags.
I was aghast seeing the misuse or abuse of plastic bags in the US. Almost every commodity sold in the store comes well packed, mostly in plastic. If a dozen pieces are bought, every two or three of them, which are taken out of the cart for billing, are placed in separate plastic bags thus using about half a dozen bags. Two or three of these bags are in turn put in bigger bags. They go back into the cart, which goes up to the car and are transferred to the boot. They are not carried by hand at all. Why are they placed in the ‘carry bag’?
I see that the plastic bags are the major component of garbage and they spread themselves everywhere, assisted by stray dogs, cattle and wind. Apart from being environmental hazards, they make a very ugly sight and I don’t like it. Not that anybody should care for my likes and dislikes. These days even if one buys a switch or a bulb in an electric shop, it is put in a plastic bag. Every item is wrapped in plastic. At a construction site I saw that the stone tiles which were being laid on the external wall were individually wrapped in plastic sheets. We are learning from the west. All unwanted stuff.
Nobody carries a cloth bag to the market any more. Almost every vendor selling vegetables and fruits puts his wares in a plastic bag and hands it over. It is very handy and cheap. Very convenient. But it irritates me. I never accept a plastic bag and always remember to carry my own bag with me. I keep voicing my views in front of anyone who cares to listen.
Wednesday is my weekly holiday. I went out on some usual errands. My wife called when I was in the bank. She wanted me to buy coriander and curry leaves from the market. i had not taken my bag. But a bunch of coriander and curry leaves is no trouble. On my way back I went into the vegetable market. I met Mr. Raikar who was on his way out, carrying a plastic bag containing onions and tomatoes. He knows me well. He was my neighbor. I had once pulled the reluctant Mr. Raikar to the ‘Plastic free Ponda’ campaign organized by the local college, in which I had a part to play. He had picked up discarded plastic bags from the streets along with us for a few minutes before excusing himself. I held him up, pointed to the plastic bag and spoke about the issue in my mind with quite a bit of feeling. He told me that he had not planned to come to the market. I told him that he should always keep a bag in his scooter box. He said that he had some urgent work and left in a hurry.
I went into the market. I purchased coriander and curry leaves. I found a good looking papaya and bought it too. I refused the offer of plastic bag from the hawker and carried everything in my hands. As I was walking out, the lady with a basket of apples hailed me. I once extracted a tooth for her painlessly and have earned her goodwill. She usually gives me good stuff. Apples looked fresh and good. She said that she was selling apples at eighty rupees a kilo but was offering me the same at sixty rupees. I purchased a kilo of apples. I had to pick them up. Now I was in a fix. I was already holding the papaya, coriander and curry leaves in my hands. How will I carry the apples? I decided to go to my scooter, transfer the stuff in my hands to the box and return for apples. But the scooter was a few hundred meters away. Still I decided to make an extra trip and was about to tell her to keep the apples aside when she took out a plastic bag, put the apples in it and held it in front of my face. It was very tempting.
I accepted the bag, pulled the cap low over my face to avoid recognition and was rushing out when I saw Mr. Raikar at the entrance. He had not left but was coming in again. May be he forgot something. I just could not afford to be caught with the plastic bag in my hands. I ducked into the lane selling fish, ran through it refusing very good offers of prawns, crabs and kingfish and came out of the back entrance. I stealthily walked a kilometer around the market yard to reach my scooter and rushed home.