If the threat of irreversible damage to the planet won't stop grocery shoppers from using plastic bags, perhaps public shaming will. A grocery store in Vancouver has resorted to "embarassing" plastic bags to keep customers from taking them and in turn, reduce plastic waste. If you don't bring your own reusable bag to the East West Market, you'll be forced to carry your groceries home in a bag branded to humiliate you, like "Wart Ointment Wholesale", "Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium" and "The Colon Care Co-Op".
East West Market's owner, David Lee Kwen, told The Guardian that his intention isn't to embarrass customers. "We wanted to give them something humorous, but also something that made them think at the same time. It’s human nature not to want to be told what to do."
Kwen expected that a fee on single-use bags would deter customers from using them. But he quickly learned that his five-cent per bag charge wouldn't be enough to prevent people from using the plastic bags.
According to The Guardian, the bags are supposed to force customers to re-think their consumption habits, as millions of plastic bags are currently disposed of after just one use, contributing to an increasingly concerning issue of plastic waste.
The bags cost customers five cents to purchase and are available in limited quantities. Despite their popularity, Kwen continues to urge customers to bring their own reusable bag, especially since he has to shell out the additional cost to print the bags himself.
Until then, Kwen plans to transfer the designs from the plastic bags to canvas bags. "It’s a double-edged sword. We wanted to address an issue, but we’ve also made something popular, so it’s turned out great."