On June 23, the government of Maharashtra imposed an extensive plastic ban. By that evening, we came to know that a notification was passed to ensure an extension of the ban for the next three months. Every household was worried and started looking for alternatives to plastic. Plastic bags had become an indispensable part of our lives and finding other options felt next to impossible.
We could manage some groceries in our jute bags and old school bags but we faced the biggest problem when we bought items during the rains as everything became wet and sticky. On the first day of the ban, when I went to the market, I hardly saw people carrying plastic bags in their hands. Most of them had jute or tote bags.
The biggest challenge for me was to carry milk. We generally buy loose milk from the vendor but on the day of the ban, I had to buy a packet of milk otherwise getting it back home would have been a real struggle. Now I have started using my son’s old school bag to carry milk. The next major hurdle was to buy supplies for the next day, which was a Sunday. Sunday, we would usually either have fish or meat, but with the plastic ban, the first question was how do we even buy meat?
So as good citizens, we took a jute bag to buy the meat. We thought it was a good idea, till we got home. We had to immediately transfer the meat to the cooker and then soak the jute bag for the next 20 minutes. I then washed it inside out to get the blood and stench out of it and again soaked it in soapy water and Dettol.
The other day when I went to buy vegetables, from my regular vegetable vendor, his first question to all the customers were, “Thaili hai kya? “ (are you carrying your own bag?). By then, I was used to keeping separate bags, one inside the other and going downstairs to get the supplies. One customer still asked him if was giving plastic bags? “Arey Nahi Sahab… 5 paise k thaili k liye kaun 25,000 bharega?” (Who will pay the fine of ₹25,000 for a bag costing five paise?”). The reaction of my sabzi wala was the one that caught me off guard. Ultimately to implement any policy, fear the fear of losing money plays an important role, and it works.