Do You Carre-four Plastic?

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

Say no to plastic!

But the problem is – plastic doesn’t listen. The other day I saw some plastic laying on the beach, so I said “No!” to it. But it didn’t look embarrassed; it just lay there. And why shouldn’t it? It’s at the beginning of its life journey. It has another 500 years or so to lay there and will probably choose various different places on this planet to hang out. It’s likely to go for another swim, wash up on the beach somewhere else, or maybe even end up in the stomach of a turtle. If the plastic makes it to a garbage pile and gets burned, it will be gone from sight but will become toxic dioxin fumes. Like turtles, we too will end up ingesting the plastic bags.

Despite the Say No to Plastic campaign, things are not getting any better.

I recently entered Carrefour for the first time. When I saw people pushing large US-style shopping carts full to the brim with boxes of food and living needs, I was puzzled. Is a deadly hurricane coming? What else would possess people to buy so much at one time?

I considered several possibilities. After all, Carrefour is a large superstore, one that takes so long to cross from one end to the other that you might well need a rest and lunch before you get to the other side. Going to Carrefour is an all-day outing. Which is exactly why they sell picnic stuff there. You’re going to need it.

I’m surprised they don’t give out shortwave radios at the front door so you don’t lose family members. At the very least, they should give you a map of the aisles. Better still would be a Carrefour handbook with suggested routes in it.

When I went in with my husband, we split up the tasks, since it would take too long to shop together to find everything. We concocted our plan at the entrance.

“You take the first half of the list; I’ll take the second. You head to the veggie department which is 3km to the north, and I’ll head to home appliances 2.5km to the south. We can meet at the picnic section for lunch, and then continue from there. Here is your compass, a bottle of water and some salt pills. Remember, stay hydrated. If you get lost, go to checkout isle number 201. I’ll meet you there. In an emergency, if all the staff have gone home and the store is vacant, here is an EPIRB. If you pull this string, the EPIRB will give off a signal indicating your exact location and rescue workers should be able to find you within minutes. Oh, and are you sure you have proper footwear?”

You soon find that it is much easier to ask where something is from the staff than spend an hour searching for it yourself. One of the reasons is that the staff use in-line skates to get around, which strikes me as extremely inconsiderate — they ought to give them to the customers!

After a day of walking around Carrefour, one thing becomes apparent: no one is reducing their carbon footprint there. The place is carbon hell. The very people who are saying no to plastic are at Carrefour buying pears in plastic net stockings, and plastic bagging an individual potato just so the staff can affix a price tag on it.

Shortly, my own carbon footprint became a Big Foot print as I also got lost in the plastic world. Even when I bought some bath towels and placed them in my shopping cart, the staff insisted the towels be bundled together. With plastic.

I was also surprised to see that this superstore not only offered hard-to-get things in Bali, but went as far as to offer items you could buy down the street from a local, such as sarongs. That’s a bit low if you ask me, cutting the vendors off at the pass!

Of course, Carrefour offers a large variety of things you couldn’t get from a local vendor. Their variety of motorbike helmets, for example, is quite impressive. But, I ask, do you really want a motorbike helmet that you don’t have to bargain the price down for? I don’t. These stores are threatening our bargaining skills.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Bali to be like France, America or Australia. Yet I felt like I was in all three of those places, all at once.

I’d soon had enough of shopping and cut the day short, meeting my husband at register 201. At the checkout line, I noticed they were selling recyclable shopping bags — plastic ones.

I was horrified when at home I quickly filled a trash bin with one-use, week-old plastic that would probably spend its 500-year retirement vacationing on the beach. And that’s even though I was “disposing of it properly,” if there is such a thing with plastic.

Yes, you can say no to plastic. But the problem is, people don’t listen.

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