Vancouver grocery store shames customers with embarrassing plastic bags

Independent food stores are known to use minimal packaging and encourage recycling of their produce to promote greener living.

But now one grocery shop in Vancouver has gone a step further by designing plastic bags to embarrass its customers from using single-use plastics. 

East West Market, an independent store selling only local food, hopes the move will encourage people to bring their own reusable bags to shop instead of relying on the single-use plastics many are used to.

Customers will be charged five cents per ’embarrassing’ plastic bag they take, which will have messages such as ‘Weird Adult Video Emporium’ and ‘Wart Ointment Wholesale’ printed on them.

The gourmet specialist market, located on Main Street and King Edward Avenue, believes the campaign will influence people to switch to more environmentally friendly bags wherever they choose to shop.

David Lee Kwen, East West’s owner, said: “So many people own reusable bags but forget to bring them. We want to help customers remember their reusable bags in a way that will really stick with them.”

“It’s certainly generated interest in what we’re trying to put out. Once you start a conversation, it will skyrocket from there, I think,” he added.

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Customers will be charged five cents per 'embarrassing' plastic bag they take

Earlier this week, Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, announced plans to ban single-use plastics in 2021, including all grocery bags, plastic cutlery and straws.

It comes amid a global pressure for governments to get to grips with a deluge of plastics, fuelled by consumerism, which cannot be recycled and so end up in landfills around the world.

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Vancouver does not yet have an outright ban on single-use plastics bags the way other cities in British Columbia like Victoria and Salmon Arm do.

But Mr Kwen hopes to change local attitudes, despite saying the 1000 new bags will only probably be offered for a limited time because of the extra printing costs attached.

In the meantime, he plans to transfer the images on the plastic bags to canvas bags.

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