There was a time when most local stores carried recycled newspaper bags which were used for selling loose items like rice, flour, pulses and even eggs. As plastic became more viable, we left behind the paper bags and moved on to plastic bags which were stronger and less cumbersome to hold. All of us thought that it was for better until we started realizing that the number of problems created by plastic is more than the number of problems solved by this invention. And this led to a long, long fight between environmentalists and plastic manufacturing authorities.
Temple of India applauds the efforts of various state governments which have banned the use of plastic. Needless to say, most of these bans include a considerable amount of relaxations to ensure that the state economy does not crumble under the weight of the ban, but as awareness spreads and people become more cautious with the use of plastic, we know that we are on the right track.
Keeping the recent announcement of the Maharashtra government with respect to the ban on plastic, we feel that it is time to bring back the paper bags. There is a twofold advantage to doing this. The first is that we will be moving towards an environment friendly replacement for plastic bags. Secondly, the demand for paper bags will bring employment to small homes and restart the cottage industry of paper bags which had suffered a sudden blow with the introduction of plastic bags.
These paper bags did not travel long distances. They were mostly produced within the same society where the store is located – mostly within a 2 kilometre radius. Additionally, the paper bags do not require huge machinery setups and a separate factory. They are less resource intensive and provide employment opportunity directly to the needy families.
There are several families who would suffer a shift in income as plastic manufacturing factories close down. This is one aspect of the ban that has to be closely studied and the government may have to consider the long-term impacts of unemployment at such a large scale as well.
As an organization that supports humanity and encourages sustainable living, Temple of India finds the ban on plastic to be a positive step towards better living. As for those who lose their employment as plastic factories shut down in the state, we aim at working along with such families and identifying new ways of providing them with a stable income.