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Monday, July 09, 2007

"I'm Not a Plastic Bag"

Have you all heard the hype about this eco-bag, by the designer Anya Hindmarch? We've renamed it here to the 'aiyah howmuch' bag.

While we can certainly be more conscious as to how to use less plastic bags (in Hong Kong, an estimated 27 million plastic bags are disposed of every day, from a population of just over 7 million people), this bag has brought parts of our downtown to a standstill as people queued for over 20 hours for the privilege of purchasing a designer canvas shopping bag. As I travelled in to work on Friday, the crowd was wrapped round the equivalent of a city block. They had to close the actual shop all day (quite a revenue loss as it's a high-end supermarket) and many access points to the shopping mall it is in, as part of crowd control. And they are already on the resale market at a 500% markup.

We're getting better here, in reducing plastic bagging in supermarkets and other shops, but really, this isn't the way to go. I'd personally opt for this later version, in response to the ridiculous demand for the original:

Oh, and I'll bet they're manufactured in China, where there are almost no controls on emissions, so I wonder how this worldwide demand has increased direct pollution in response to the manufacturing that has gone on to 'satisfy' such consumer demand.

Hong Kongers have a very strange urge to collect what they think is a product not everyone can get their hands on. As a further example, the local racing organisation (we have some of the biggest purses to be won in the horse-racing world) put out a commemorative keepsake to celebrate our 10th anniversary. People queued and queued. Supplies started to run low as they hadn't anticipated the demand. When the crowd got wind of this, mass panic ensued. People were trampled and beaten. I saw the news report on the television that evening and I have to tell you, it the closes comparison I've seen was watching the refugees in Darfur scrambling for life-saving food supplies!

Hong Kong, get your priorities right!


George said...

Ha ... love the second bag ... you called it the "later" bag ... does that mean the first one is now the old bag?

In the province in live in Canada, the govt is pushing the use of reuseable bags made from recycled material. It is a good idea because the last forever in a garbage dump plastic ones do not degrade over time.

The province has also banned the use of incandescent bulbs as of 2012.

Matt K. said...

I love that "unpretentious" version! Precious.

People are starting to go a little nuts with the eco-drive stuff. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for saving the environment, the world, etc. But we have to do this sort of thing smartly. Flourescent instead of incandescent? Sure - if you don't mind dealing with the mercury waste it creates. America is moving, slowly, towards ethanol? Fantastic - except that they're using less efficient corn instead of the sugar cane that the Brazilians used, and now the price of corn has gone in my area from dollar a dozen to dollar a pair (don't even ask what people with more corn-dependant diets in places like Central and South America are doing)...

And your comments on the mass hysteria for rare-to-find goods are right on target. Who remembers the Christmas of Tickle-Me Elmo in the States? Or more recently, the fights and robberies that broke out when the Xbox 360 hit the market? It can be worse for honest-to-goodness collectible items, "1 in a series of X," etc. Don't we collect and consume enough crap?

I didn't realize I was in such a rant-y mood... ;-)

Fiona said...

George & Matt - that's the one I'd be carrying!

I really don't comprehend the whole 'I've got one and you don't' thing. I actually don't understand a lot of materialism mind you. When people want something because it is valued highly, or because the Joneses have one. Or more often than not, these days, marketing creates a false demand.

As for the environment, we are really only scratching the surface here, although finally, and it's hard when just a few miles away, they can do anything they want and we have to cough and splutter through it.

Sunny Delight said...

I just might queue up for the second one!
The "must have" mania...it is everywhere it seems!


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