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Plastic Bags

Apr 11, 2017Canadian, Environment, Female, Japanese

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Do you bring your own reusable bag when you go grocery shopping?


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Yamashita Haruka: When I was, when I read this article, uh it actually recalls uh it actually recalls me uh, nan da keHaruka used to often mix some Japanese with her English. Mixing languages should be avoided. Nan da ke means “What was that?” (0:10)

José Cruz: Ah, “it makes me think”?

Haruka: Ah! So so soJapanese meaning “Yes yes yes” (0:12). Yeah yeah. Yes. It makes me think, it makes me recall the the new system of the Japanese new system of uh, what do you say, “eco-bag” (Oh so uh) at the supermarket.

José: Kk- Bringing your own bags to the supermarket.

Haruka: Yes. We call it “eco-bag”

José: Yeah. In English we would say “bringing your own bags to the supermarket”.

Haruka: Just a really really straight…

José: Ah you know that’s that’s kind of the one difference um that I think is is particular about Japanese but let’s talk about that later. So yeah (Uh huh, OK) the whole idea of bringing your own bags to the supermarket.

Haruka: Mm-hmm yeah and at the very last of this article it actually sayHaruka should have said “says” (0:51) uh kind of the same thing about the likeNative speakers are usually encouraged to eliminate filler words from their speaking, but Haruka uses this filler word well to help her maintain her fluency (0:55), bringing the bags, like. (Mm-hmm) This part yes. (Right. The the) like “carrying her lunch” or…

José: The (something like that) last paragraph.

Haruka: Yeah. Like, when? Maybe from.. when? I’m… Maybe from my high school days. (Mm-hmm. That’s right) Yeah the the situ- Japanese system was changed. And like when I want to use the plastic bag, (Right) when I need a plastic bag at supermarket I have to pay some extra money like (Right) just a really little bit. But, (Yeah yeah) yeah, like four yen or (Right) just like that.

José: At my local supermarket it’s four yen. (Oh really?) and it was specifically four yen (Mm-hmm) so that when you put the tax on the four yen it would become five yen. (I see.) At- that bag probably costs only one yen.

Haruka: Yeah maybe less than.

José: But they decided to make it five. And I find it interesting that uh- I’ve been living in the same neighbourhood now for a long time (Uh-huh) and I remember when I first started bringing my own bag to the supermarket. (Uh-huh) And when I first started bringing my own bag, the people at the register (Uh-huh) Uh, their habit was they didn’t even ask they just automatically gave you a bag.

Haruka: Yeah yeah yeah. They just add it (Right right) maybe two bags. Two plastic bags, like…

José: Exactly. And I would tell them, oh no wait I don’t want that. I brought my own bag. And they would say, “Oh OK. Well that’s nice” They were surprised. Then maybe about three years after that, I noticed at the register you could get these little cardboard signs (Yes) that you could put in your basket that said, “I don’t need a bag” (Yes exactly) So I thoughtJosé says this very quickly (2:37) Oh OK, so your awareness is starting to rise a lot more…

Haruka: Yeah that’s a really clever system.

José: A lot more people were noticing or a lot more people were using…

Haruka: And started to use eco-bag.

José: Right. And then I noticed what changed was around the time that um, they started charging money for bags that card changed from “I don’t want a bag” (Yeah) to, “I WANT a bag” (Uh-huh. Oh really) So you put that in your cart If you wanted to say that you wanted a (Wow) plastic bag. Everything changed over about ten years. (Uh-huh) And now you have to buy them.

Haruka: In these ten years it- everything changed a lot.

José: Which I think is really good.

Haruka: Dramatically it was. Yeah.

José: Los Angeles though, (Uh-huh) um. I forget now’ if it was in this article. Um (What?) California, the state of California in America, has completelyThis is not actually true. The new laws prohibits only giving away plastic bags for free. Plastic bags are still available but stores must charge users a fee (3:23) banned plastic bags (Banned?) You cannot use them anymore. You cannot use them you cannot buy them you cannot ask for them. You cannot buy them (Really?) No, no more plastic (In California?) Yup. No more plastic bags for convenience stores and department stores. (Eh. So) You can still buy plastic bags for garbage and for special uses. (Uh huh uh-huh) But you can’t buy you know the kind with the (the usual one) handles.

Haruka: What? Really. From when? Like really recently?

José: I think from last year. (Oh really) I don’t remember the specifics but I think from last year.

Haruka: Wow I was so surprised about it, becausepronounced “KUZ” (3:56) you know the last state when I was- when I stayed in the United States was California, (Right) the state of California. And when I was in the California I used a lot of plastic bags, like at a supermarket or at convenience store, at- almost everywhere.


Besides recycling what are other ways to deal with plastic bags?

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Yamashita Haruka image

Yamashita Haruka


Oita City, Oita

José Domingo Cruz image

José Domingo Cruz


Vancouver, British Columbia


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  1. I think that most Japanese don’t think a problem caused by plastic bags. Several animals and fishes are damaged by plastic bags. For example, sea turtles died by eating plastic bags, and fishes can not breath with their gills caught by plastic bags. And plastic bags harm our health. Plastic crashed smaller and smaller by the wave in the sea are called “micro plastic”. Fishes or animals eat it and save in their body. Eating them saving micro plastic is not good for our health. Especially, it is poisonous for children. When things comes to the worst, children will die.
    In Japan, some people using “eco-bag”, but the number of them is smaller than others. We should know the problem caused by plastic bags and change our life style. At first, Japanese uses too many packaging materials in shopping. If we use “eco-bags”, the problem would not be solved quickly. So we have to reduce packaging and get used to less packaging.
    I think that problems caused by human will harm human. We should think them and solve. Not to say, they harm other life on Earth. We can not live without them. So solving the problems help our life.

  2. I didn’t know the history of plastic bags, so I learned a lot. Also, I feel that there are differences in plastic bags depending on the area where we live. For example, in my area plastic bags were originally free. When I went to Fukuoka, I was surprised that plastic bags are charged. However, in my area, the system has changed and we have to pay. Before the system changed, I didn’t use eco bags much. However, nowadays I always use eco bags when I go shopping. Doing so helps protect the environment and saves money. I want to continue using it forever. I was also surprised to learn that California has completely lost its plastic bag. I predict that Japan will have a system similar to California in the future. For the future, I think it is important to use eco bags from now on. You can buy eco bags cheaply, so it is cheaper than buying many plastic bags. As mentioned above, eco bags have many advantages. I think it is necessary for Japan to change the system of plastic bags for the sake of the environment. I thought the consumption of plastic bags was an issue for the whole world to consider.

  3. I really surprised that the Los Angels has completely banned plastic bags. Today in japan plastic bags cost money in most of supermarket and convenience stores, but it is not banned completely. Many people use the plastic bags not only bringing things they bought, but also gather garbage in their home and so on. I think that if plastic bags are completely banned in japan, most people will be troubled. Now, I am working part time job in supermarket. Many customers have their own bag. Some customers buy some plastic bags. I feel that the number of people buy plastic bags are decreasing. Therefore I think that it is not needed to completely banned plastic bags in Japan. By the way, I often see people who say that sea turtles died by eating plastic bags, but there is no data that say turtles died because of plastic bag. Anyway, decreasing amount of plastic bag is effective way to decreasing amounts of garbage even a little. I am going to go shopping with my bag today.

  4. I think Japanese new system “eco bag” is good. But it is too late to start this system, compare with other country like California. Japanese use too much plastic not only as a bag when shopping. Egg pack is made of plastic. Cookies are wrapped one by one with plastic. Not only these, we see a lot of plastic everywhere in Japan. As foreigner see this, they will say “Japanese use too much plastic”. However, there is reason why snacks like cookies are wrapped one by one. In this country, an incident happened in 1984. It called “Glico Morinaga Case”. In this case, someone put a paper on snack, and it said “This snack has poison. If you eat, you will die”. The test by police found it has sodium cyanide. After this case, a lot of Japanese companies that produce snacks started to wrap snacks one by one.
    The other day, a boy, a high school student started to signature activity for the stop wrapping snacks one by one, but it will difficult to achieve it. So, we have to reduce other plastic as much as possible. Then, using “eco bag” is one way we can do for reducing plastic. I will always bring my “ego bag” when I go shopping.

  5. Recently, plastic bags at convenience stores have become more charged in Japan. However, the use of plastic bags is not prohibited. So, I was surprised that the use of plastic bags has been completely banned in California, but I think that it is difficult to stop the use of plastic bags. Not limited to plastic bags, plastic products are convenient. In addition, plastic bags will not lose even if have become more charged. In other words, plastic waste will not disappear, so I would recommend using biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics are decomposed by microorganisms. Therefore, they do not turn into waste and return to natural. The disadvantage is that they are expensive, so the free plastic bags were not used. That’s why I think it is good to introduce biodegradable plastics as plastic bags become charged. Some people may be dissatisfied with paying for what was previously free. It is often not free because the material has changed, so I do not think there will be any complaints with method. Also, by introducing as plastic bags have become more charge, another weak point of biodegradable plastics will be overcome. Since the number of plastic bags used has decreased due to the charge, biodegradable plastic, which takes more time to make, will do for production.

  6. I was realized that Japanese system for environment is so late. I thought that Japanese system changed gradually. Now, Japanese government planned that we have to pay money to get plastic bags. And so, many Japanese people have eco-bags. But I didn’t know that plastic bags are banned in California. So, I think that Japanese measure is so late.
    However, I think we should consider more new idea to protect our environment. Plastic items are so light and useful for anything. And mask is made from the same substance as plastic items. So, it is important for us to protect from germ and virus. In this situation, it is hard to do away with plastic completely. Also, people may pay no attention to pay some money to get plastic bags.
    I think that making new plastic bags that do not use hazardous chemical substance. These substances have bad influence for not only creature bad also earth. So, first we must not throw away such as our street and nature. We have to use repeatedly and handle it.
    Therefore, I think that many people should know bad influence of plastic bags and change way of thinking for it. I hope this problem resolve in the future.

  7. Recently, we must pay money when we want to plastic bags in Japan. However, I didn’t know that you have needed to pay money for plastic bags in California for a while, so I was very surprised. I think that plastic problems are very serious, so we need to keep thinking about this problems. Plastic is bad for environment and animals. There are some pieces of plastic in the sea. Also, amount of plastic will be more than amount of fish in 2050. And, I watched the movie what sea birds are suffering from plastic. A lot of sea birds died due to eat some pieces of plastic. I couldn’t look this scene. I thought that I should to face plastic problems. There are a lot of things what we can do. It is what we have my bags. And than, we don’t need to use plastic bags and amount of plastic decrease around the world. However, it doesn’t mean if there are only few people having my bag. That’s way I think that a lot of people have my bag. I am going to have my bag.

  8. These days , we have to pay money to get a plastic bag at any store.
    A plastic bags is a low price , but I don’t understand necessity of pay money to it .
    Of course , I know that plastic bags bad effect to the sea and animals who live in the sea.
    But I think that most important things is to conscious of how to throw away plastic bags .
    I often see the people use a plastic bags to throw away the garbage .
    Actually , it is useful to garbage bag when we are walking in the city .
    I worry about that if don’t distribute a plastic bag , some people throw away the garbage in the street .
    Moreover , I once saw message of people who make a plastic bag on the Internet.
    He says that “we are make an effort to making plastic bags made from material without bad effect for environment, so using it is not bad for environment “.
    In Japan , people have a habit to bringing own bags from long ago .
    I agree with this habit is good thinking .
    So I will thinking about plastic bag usage and bringing “eco-bag” as much as possible .

  9.  There are many environmental problems all over the world. I think that people should think about the environment. It is very important for our future to protect the environment. Plastic products affect to the environment. It is important to reduce plastic bags. A lot of trash of plastic products pollutes seawater. Japanese people often use plastic bags. It costs money to get a plastic bag from July 1 in japan. It is big change for our life. I got plastic bags for free at convenience stores and some supermarkets before. It was very convenient. However I can’t get them for free now so I don’t get them and I take my “eco-bag”. I thought that having a “eco-bag” is troublesome before but I understand that it is very easy now. In this way, we can cooperate to protect the environment. This is small and easy but very important. I think that there are many things we can do to protect the environment. For example, I don’t use disposable chopsticks and I carry my chopsticks. Also, I don’t purchase plastic bottles and I carry my water bottle. These actions can reduce trash. In summary, we should be conscious of our actions to protect the environment. This small change is important for our future. I want to do them and tell my family and friends.

  10. Until recently, I used plastic bags very often. But currently, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry charged plastic bags at all shops and I tend not to use plastic bags at all. It costs us around 4 yen per one time, because I am so curious who will earn money by purchasing plastic bags and I am not sure whether it is beneficial for environment or not to save the quantity of plastic bags which we usually use. According to some experts, it doesn’t have meaning to solve environmental problems. Considering ocean garbage pollution, plastic bag accounts for 0.3% of them. Compared to plastic bottle which accounts for 12.7%, the amount of plastic bag is almost zero. Moreover, plastic bags are made from polyethylene. But it is surely produced when oil is refined without producing plastic bags. Contrary, making reusable shopping bag will cost more expensive than making plastic bag.
    In conclusion, it may not be effective not to use plastic bags. But I think it is the best way to make people notice that we use a large amount of goods every day and waste a lot.

  11. There are many environmental problems in the world, but the problem of plastic waste is very serious among them. As you can see in this article, plastic waste affects fish, birds, turtles, and so on. So we are doing a lot of activities to reduce plastic trash. For example, in Japan, plastic bags for shopping at stores have been charged since July 1st of this year. This system is to reduce the amount of plastic bags used by us. It is also used to encourage the use of eco-bags rather than plastic bags. As a result, it is possible to reduce the dust of the plastic. However, many stores still distribute plastic bags for free. In addition, there are a lot of causes besides the bag of plastic. For example, many goods use a lot of plastic for packaging. Therefore, garbage increases when I buy a product. When we shop, we need to think about the environment by using eco bags. In addition, there are a lot of people who throw garbage into the road without throwing it away in the trash can. Solving this problem is very important for the future. Therefore, we should continue to use eco bags for living things and the future.


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