Shoppers navigate plastic ban challenges

A variety of useful plastic bag alternatives are available across supermarkets in the wake of this week’s nationwide ban.

The Samoa Observer visited local shops to see how they are serving Samoa, and found branded reusable bags, paper bags and of course woven baskets ready and waiting.

In the bustling Fugalei Market, Tusani Danielson has woven dozens of ato launiu, or coconut leaf baskets. 

“I listened to the radio, I heard I had to save the environment,” he said.

“I decided to weave these baskets for people to come and buy their food in, for five tala.”

Mr Danielson said the baskets are a fair bit of work. He climbs coconut trees, cuts down leaves and weaves the baskets himself, and they take around 10 minutes each to make.

“I don’t want to use plastic anymore, I can bring my ako to any shop and use them.

A young shopper spotted at Lynn’s Supermarket in Moto’otua said she was happy to be saving the environment.

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Maddison Brunt, 7, was with her mother packing their groceries into shopping bags they had brought from home, which they keep in the car so they don’t get forgotten.

Lynn’s shop manager Oscar Meredith said people are definitely getting used to shopping without readily available single use plastic bags but some complain.

Leftover stock is being used for meatpacking, instead of buying new packing bags in the meantime.

Another shopper at Lynn’s carried her groceries out in a small cardboard box, making use of free resources.

At Farmer Joes in Vaitele, large brown paper bags are available for 50 sene each. Vai Iafeta, a shopper there told us she was happy to pay extra for a bag she can use again, and again.

The store has also gone one step further, switching out Styrofoam cups for paper ones at the fruit drink stand at the entrance. 

While paper bags may see some wear and tear, at Lucky Foodtown shoppers can pick up a reusable cloth bag for T$5. Lutia Lene did not hesitate to pick one up with her shopping, which she filled to the brim – a shop that otherwise could have filled several small plastic bags.

Lucky Foodtown has been stocking reusable bags since December. Cashier Fuatino Tanuvasa said while not everyone remembers to bring their bags back to the supermarket each time they shop, people are getting better.

“Most people love the ban,” she said.

“Some people may abuse us but they will take a bag because they have no choice.”

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