The News(paper) is out of the Bag

It seems that at long last the government has mustered the will to do something about the plastic bag that newspaper vendors use to hold a newspaper when selling it.

For years I have been angered by this utterly senseless and selfish practice. Of course, the vendors are to be blamed for introducing this environmentally detrimental sales tactic. The five most popular newspapers in Hong Kong (Oriental Daily, Apple Daily, Mingpao, The Sun and South China Morning Post) have a combined circulation of over a million copies. That's over a million plastic bags being given away every single day! Of course the government is to blame for not doing anything about it until now. But at the end of the day it is the end user who has to take the biggest responsibility for letting it go on.

This is a chicken and egg situation where it is difficult to say whether the consumption of the bag is because it is offered, or because the bag is offered because the customer wants it. One thing is sure though. In this market driven economy, if enough customers refuse the bags, which actually add to the cost of the vendors, the offer will stop in no time. Unfortunately, very few people do. I have been trying to think of a good reason why the use of that bag is needed, but I cannot think of any. It defies logic that it is for keeping one's hand clean. Do you wear a pair of gloves when you read the newspaper? So it is most likely that this is merely for looking good, and is just another example of many Hong Kong people's total disregard for the damage that one million bags a day does to the environment.

This is, unfortunately, not the most environmental friendly of cities. While Hong Kong makes up 0.1 percent of the world's population, it gives off 0.2 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emission. And now, after 365 (days) x n (years) x ~1,000,000 bags have been produced unnecessarily, we are ready to do something about the situation.

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