It is widely acknowledged that a brown paper bag is a lot more bio-degradable than a plastic one. Plastic has become a danger to marine life across the planet – the world was left devastated when a whale was found dead in Thailand, after swallowing 80 plastic bags that were floating in the sea.
Luckily more and more retailers are joining the good fight, including SPAR, who announced in July that they would not supply a single plastic bag to consumers on 3 July 2018, national “Plastic Bag Free Day”.
“As one of SA’s leading retailers, we have a huge role to play in changing the culture around the use of plastic in-store. It’s no longer a question of if we should add our voice to the global commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle – but how.”
The De Jonker SPAR in Stellenbosch also participated in this campaign, but after seeing its impact and the positive response from townspeople, decided to pick up the ball and run with it. This has since caught the attention of many, including Cape Talk radio station:
We caught up with manager Andrew Birss to find out why everyone has been talking about the De Jonker SPAR’s green initiatives:
“I have been looking for a nice alternative to plastic for a while but struggled to find a good quality paper bag. Spar’s new bag was perfect. Its strong and bigger than the normal plastic bags we normally sold. So from that day I decided to stop ordering plastic bags for checkout. The customers embraced the new paper and started purchasing other reusable Spar carrier bags, and most importantly bringing back to the store when they shop. The whole point of this was to firstly embrace the concept of REUSE. I sold on average 11000 plastic bags per month (for a small Kwikspar) now I sell zero. I sold about 5000 paper bags last month so people are definitely reusing the paper and the other options. I know that even though the bags are made from recycled material it still not perfectly eco-friendly, due to the water etc being used to produce them but I feel its better than plastic especially if they are reusing them.”
“I am not naïve to think that this going to work in all stores but I decided I had to step up and make a change. Also not naïve to think that its possible to rid my store of all plastic etc as the majority of products have some plastic with them.”
Now bitten by the conservation bug, Birss did not stop there.
“Two weeks ago I instructed coke to stop bringing me plastic drinking straws and am sourcing alternatives. Unfortunately it’s a small market so real “single use” products like straws are hard to find that are eco friendly. But as I mentioned I decided to start at a point and work forward from here. The customers have been great and love the idea of the paper bags. The one comment I have is that these type of bags are large and can be awkward to carry etc, so I am souring material bags that can folded into a pouch and should have those available as soon as possible for sale at the store.”