Kodaikanal’s Ban on Plastic Bags and Cups Dramatically Reduces Litter

“Say Good-Bye to Polythene Bags and Cups,” a sign announces in Tamil and English beside one of the final hairpin bends in the two hour climb to Kodaikanal, a hill station at 2,000 metres atop Tamil Nadu’s Palani hills. Upon entering Kodai, the dramatic impact of the municipality’s two year old ban on disposable plastic bags and cups is immediately evident. Plastic litter is noticeably absent from Kodai’s beautiful lake, streets and forested hillsides. Also not present are heaps of smoldering rubbish–a common sight and smell in most Indian localities.

The ban’s impact is easy to assess: just look at Kodai’s horribly polluted neighboring localities that have no ban. At Pillar Rocks, a popular tourist destination six kilometers from Kodai, plastic trash is strewn throughout the vegetation, and patches of scorched plastic blemish the landscape

Many localities have banned plastic carrybags, but few enforce their ban. For example, Pondicherry’s ban exists in word only: every shop packs goods in plastic bags—sometimes in more than one bag—mocking the government’s rule. Pondicherry’s officials make no effort to enforce the ban.

In contrast, Kodaikanal’s ban demonstrates that life is not only possible without plastic bags: it is even better without them.

Kodaikanal’s merchants report that municipal authorities regularly conduct inspections and issue intimidating fines to shops that violate the ban.

Plastic bags have become so pervasive that it is difficult to imagine life without them. Some argue that we must accept plastic bags because “we can’t turn back the clock.” But Kodaikanal’s ban demonstrates that life is not only possible without plastic bags: it is even better without them.

A remarkable variety of goods can be packed in paper bags made of old newspaper.

say goodbye to plastic cups and bags

Ban Ahead!

Burnt garbage at Pillar Rocks

Scorched Plastic Isn't Far from View at Pillar Rocks

 

Vendor Packing Avacado in Paper Bag

Vendor Packing Avacado in Paper Bag

Chocolate Being Packed in Newspaper Bag

Chocolate Packed in Newspaper Bag

Coffee Beans Are Packed in Paper at Fatima Coffee Works

Coffee Beans Are Packed in Paper at Fatima Coffee Works

Bags Made From Old Newspapers at a Fruit Vendor's Stall

Bags Made From Old Newspapers at a Fruit Vendor's Stall

Spices Get Bagged in Paper

Spices Get Bagged in Paper

Citronella Oil Bagged in Paper

Citronella Oil Bagged in Paper

Boxes of Plums Packed in Paper

Boxes of Plums Packed in Paper

Fruit Vendor in Kodaikanal

Fruit Vendor in Kodaikanal

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6 Responses to Kodaikanal’s Ban on Plastic Bags and Cups Dramatically Reduces Litter

  1. Pingback: Kodaikanal’s Ban on Plastic Bags and Cups Dramatically Reduces Litter « Clear Impression Documentation Services

  2. Larry Danos says:

    I’d like to ask how the paper bags are made from newspaper (or other types of paper)?
    Are they folded and tape? stapled? or jus folded in such a way as to make for a reusable bag.

    Sincerely,

    • Hi Larry,

      Thanks for visiting the site. The bags in Kodai are made from newspaper, which is folded and then glued at the joints. The bags are made in several sizes/capacities. I’m dissecting a bag while I type. It is 4 layers thick. I mean, it has been made from 4 sheets of newspaper, so it is quite strong and heavy.

      When I first came to India in 1984, such bags were used universally. Since then, plastic bags came into use, and newspaper bags disappeared. It’s very nice to see newspaper bags again. Plastic bags have become a huge menace, particularly the widespread practice of open burning of mixed waste, which generates dioxins, furans and pcbs.

  3. ABHIMANYU says:

    I would like to know if these newspaper bags are readily available in Kodaikanal or are they coming from the plains like Dindukal, Madurai etc.?What is the cost of these newpaper bags?

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