Plastic bag as an ideal consumerism study candidate

The whole world is in the grip of consumerism today. Even though social scientists, environmental engineers are well aware of the negative impact of mounting consumerism, government policies have not been able to shift consumer behavior towards increased responsibility. Plastic bag is a simple case of this type of reckless behavior and it is a good candidate to study how mass consumer behavior can be tweaked.

A report from SANDEE takes the case of New Delhi plastic ban and the effectiveness of the ban. Plastics occupied 05% of garbage generated by Indians in 1996 and has now grown over 10%. Plastic bags and packaging account for 50% of the plastic in garbage. The most obvious reason that the study quotes for the ban being ineffective is lack of enforcement. Lack of enforcement in countries like India are a general issue, but one can see that even developed countries are failing when it comes to enforcement related to social/environment areas.

The SANDEE pilot considered three alternatives to a blanket ban, namely, Awareness, monetary incentives for not using plastic and making clothe bags more easily available. Compared to the 90% reduction in Ireland, 45% reduction in China, these alternate methods yielded a modest reduction, perhaps because of the limited scope of the pilot. Concerted effort to create awareness appears to be much better than a ban, especially if the ban can not be followed up with enforcement.