A trail of plastic and paper

28 10 2012

I have issues with plastic bags that are given out with just about every purchase in Zimbabwe (supermarkets, to their everlasting credit, are the exception to this statement – they charge for theirs). Harare is no longer the clean city that it was in the ’80s and early ’90s and I drive past a  rubbish tip on the way home from town; plastic bags litter the fences, trees and the farm fields surrounding it. It is especially bad when the wind is south-east and when it rains there is a distinct vomit-like smell from the dump. So when the teller at the bank told me that they were no longer accepting personal withdraws on paper slips from the beginning of next year I did a silent mental cheer. Only debit cards will be allowed. I suspect this has more to do with reducing their workload than saving the environment, but it’s a start.

The attitude at the local hardware store that afternoon was a little different.

“I don’t want a plastic bag thank you”.

“Are you sure?” the shop assistant asked dubiously. EVERYBODY takes plastic bags if they are GIVEN them.

“Yes, I am quite sure” I insisted.

“Will you be able to get your stuff to the car?” he persisted. The car was right outside the shop door so I stood my ground.

The next stop was  to pay for some air tickets to Cape Town over Christmas and New Year. The money was counted and I watched incredulously as the agent printed out the tickets; two pages for each! E-tickets no less!

“Oh, would you have preferred it as an email?” she asked when I remarked on the irony of e-tickets using so much paper.

“It’s a bit late for that” I muttered picking up the sheaf of papers.

It’s not just Zimbabwe that has trouble adapting to the electronic age. Earlier this month at London Gatwick airport in the UK I was checking in at the Emirates counter. I was very pleased with myself having done a check-in online and got my 2D bar code on my new smart phone. But nobody wanted to see it – they wanted to see the  e-ticket on paper!

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4 responses

3 11 2012
mara4africatoalgarve

Plastic bags are now biodegradable so I don’t have an issue with supermarkets giving them out. I do have an issue with the amount of paper we waste on useless mountains of paperwork schools make teachers fill out. In this age of computers you’d think we could use less paper. Poor trees!

3 11 2012
gonexc

Plastic bags are most certainly not biodegradeable in Zim! By far the biggest culprits are the polystyrene lunch boxes.

8 11 2012
mara4africatoalgarve

It’s a pity they aren’t biodegradable! At home I separate plastic, paper and glass from the other garbage and I’m always amazed at the amount of “wrapping” everything seems to come in nowadays.

7 12 2012
gonexc

Biodegradableplastic does exist – but not here!

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