In the past two decades, numerous countries and cities have undertaken the bold decision of achieving plastic bag free regions and as a result, have stumbled upon their own mistakes and identified their own lessons and opportunities. When it came to making our own roadmap, we decided to take a cue from such places that have been trying to ban plastic bags far longer than us. We drew key lessons from their findings and integrated them to come up with a six-step approach.
Public Awareness and Support:
We believe that being equipped with the right information is essential for people to make smarter decisions. Thus, we work hard to bring forth compelling evidence against the use of plastic bags based on sound scientific findings to create an informed public.
Furthermore, in order to dispel the myth that was no public support in favor of a plastic bag ban, we set out to bring together all those who supported such a move. The response we are getting is an overwhelming show of support in favor of the ban. This solidarity has proven immensely powerful in both building public pressure to get policymakers to make the right decision and to inspire other members of society to join in the fight against plastic bag use.
While some people may feel plastic bags are an indispensable part of our lives, we forget that not too long ago, our ancestors got on with their lives, perfectly well, without any plastic bags, or plastic for that matter! Instead they used bags made of natural material that was locally grown; these include jute, cotton and newspaper. Thus, we decided to revive this nearly-forgotten solution and provide reusable bags made of 100% biodegradable cotton, jute, hemp, newspaper and reused paper bags.
Not just that, we went ahead and built an entire social enterprise called “Hamri Bahini – The Green Angels” for this purpose. Our biodegradable bags are made by underprivileged women and are available in 18 major outlets around Kathmandu. This way, we offer marginalized women an opportunity to make a decent living while addressing an urgent environmental issue.
To date, we have sold 80,000 Hamri Bahini cotton bags as an alternative to plastic bags through major departmental stores around Kathmandu. But purchasing bags is not a complete solution in itself. One must also remember to carry the bags with them in order to use the bags. Keeping this in mind, we wanted to make it easier for people to get into the habit of bringing bags with them. So we partnered with stores and businesses to offer discounts to customers, who use their own bags while shopping. The Responsible Consumer Discount scheme rewards good shopping practices by providing a monetary incentive.
Distribution mechanism: volunteer network
The Responsible Consumer Discount Cards in Figures:
Cards Sold: 2,000
Stores Offering Discounts: 47
Stores Carrying Discount Card for Purchase:
CSR Partners: 117
Buy the Responsible Consumer Discount Card from various outlets to show your support to the youth-led campaign and make it easier for yourself to adopt a new habit.
Most people are not aware of the economic implications of the manufacture and sale of plastic bag. The use of plastic bags supports an industry that adds very little value to the Nepalese economy since plastic, being a petroleum product, requires the import of readymade raw materials. It is capital intensive rather than labor intensive, which means it employs fewer people than what its alternative could offer. The campaign builds an economic argument that challenges the viability of the plastic bag industry.
The campaign convenes key players in the plastic bag ban debate such as policy makers, business leaders and media to facilitate constructive dialogue and bold decision-making with regards to a plastic bag ban and its effective implementation. The recent government decision to ban plastic bags below 30 micron has been the culmination of tireless petitioning and strategic policy dialogue between notable CA members, Department of Environment, Minstry of Science, Technology and Environment (MoSTE) and Kathmandu Municipality.
All our efforts in raising awareness, petitioning, alternative bag provision and policy dialogue has been an attempt to bring about legislation banning plastic carrier bags and polypropylene bags. Recently, the campaign achieved a victory of sorts when the Minister of Cabinets, comprised of member of parliaments, amended an existing law to raise the ban on plastic bags to 30 microns. We now look forward to a comprehensive plan for implementation of the ban and ultimately, a successful enforcement of the ban.