An average plastic bag takes one second to make, is used for roughly 20 minutes and takes up to 400 years to degrade naturally.
In a very necessary attempt to put the breaks on the alarmingly real symptoms of global warming (think of our increasingly wild weather patterns, rising sea levels, coral bleaching, plastic islands the size of Texas floating in the deep blue sea, and plastic poisoned wildlife that even end up on our dinner plate – to name just a few) France has introduced new legislation effective July first this year. The legislation bans plastic bags thinner than 50 micrometers from being distributed at cashiers regardless of volume, and regardless of whether or not the retailer charges customers for the bag. So basically, all stores France wide from supermarkets, corners shops, fruit and veg shops, petrol stations, you name it, have to follow this law.
In spite of such forward thinking politics, we are still reminded that all of us need to place one foot before the other in order to get anywhere. The law also currently plans to authorise domestically compostable bags made in full or in part from bio-sourced materials, which should replace plastic fruit and vegetable packaging early next year. So those little bags you get for fruit and veg in markets can still currently be used, although they too will be banned from January – as will the little plastic bags to wrap meat or fish.
These are early beginnings but it is definitely an incredibly uplifting experience to live without the common plastic bag. The romantic streets of Paris are now rendered free of floating white objects, as people march home down the street with cigarette in hand and paper grocery bag in the other. The local bakers are packing lunch boxes for their patrons in brown paper, the way your mum used to bundle your day’s treats before school, and a wonderful sense of calmness is restored to the cityscape that was just before clogged with a synthetic disease. The French are returning to the slow life, the good life, after a brief yet impactful mingle with the throw-away culture of commercialism. Things take a little longer here but this new pace is just enough to take in the goodness around us.