Malls in most parts of India have stopped providing free polythene bags to shoppers.
It is a known fact that plastic bags are not good for a healthy environment. They clog drains and are not biodegradable. They are difficult to recycle as well. Thus this is a good move.
However, there is a twist in the tale. For shelling out a certain amount of money( which retailers call as nominal), you can get all the bags you want, in principal defeating the purpose of not having the plastic bags in the first place.
Frankly plastic bags are very useful. They are strong and easy to carry around. They can be used again later till they get worn. They are cheap as well, which makes for their popularity.
The malls have conveniently decided to dump the cost of procuring bags on the shoppers. Instead of providing alternatives such as cloth or jute bags( very costly when they do it), they now charge for plastic bags. The Indian customer smart as she is ( like my wife is) , brings bags from home.
But, I see a lot of problem with carrying bags from home
- They come in all sizes , unlike in standard sizes
- They are probably not fit for carrying grocery ( may not be right grade)
- Consumer need to keep plastic bags at home( original problem of not having plastic bags remains)
- Increased stress at the checkout, at the time of putting the items in the car and unloading them at home
For malls, even though they are happy with the cost being passed to customer , face these problems ( that they fail to recognize)
- Customer dissatisfaction: Those customers who forgot the bags home are unhappy
- Brand issue : We often carry bags from other malls and the retailers employees have to use them whether they like it or not. If I were a retail house brand manager, I would be seriously worried.
- Lower productivity: To fill the bags, employees have to understand what can go in it . For e.g. they have to first see how much strong the bag is and how much load it can take. Can they pack dishwasher liquid in it or is it more suitable for milk?
This may really get annoying when the lines at billing are wrong
- Unhygienic practices: Some bags are not meant for certain purpose. Customer carrying goods in unhygienic ways and then getting ill because of it does not speak good about the retailers .
- Overall dissatisfaction and increased stress at the store: Imagine shopping at highly crowded store and then later standing in the queues only to remember you forgot the bags.
Stores are really not helping the environment while increasing inconvenience to customers and employees.
They need to provide more options to the customer, for e.g. pricing cloth bags right, allowing customers to return them and aggressively asking vendors to push the cost down.
As a consumer, I too need to search for the cloth /jute bags but if malls really take the initiative, I will save some time and money there.
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