Wonders will never cease...
In my experience, telling people in Asia that you don't want a plastic bag for your shopping is a bit of an ordeal. After much puzzlement and despite all protestations, your stuff usually ends up in a plastic bag anyway. Then, when you take it out of the plastic bag and leave it sitting on the counter the whole situation is so novel that it normally sits there for a while, half-deflated, still holding the shape of your bunch of bananas and bottle of orange juice before they either throw it out or realise they can still use it for the next person.
I don't pretend to be an expert on the environmental economics of plastic bags, and I suspect that plastic bag reduction efforts get a disproportionate amount of attention (at least in Melbourne where people can be rabidly self-righteous about rejecting plastic bags) compared to their contribution to the average person's environmental footprint, but considering how easy it is to make gains, I think they're a good idea. They're especially vital in Jakarta where plastic bags make up a huge portion of the solid waste clogging up the waterways, which makes a major contribution to the annual floods.
So, you'll understand my surprise when I was in Carrefour (a huge multinational hypermarket chain) the other day and saw this:
Translation: Buy once, forever. Broken Carrefour Green Bags can be
swapped for a new one... Free!
The best part is that they're only Rp. 2,000 (around about US$ 0.22, A $ 0.25), which - even in Indonesia - is a pretty small amount; especially for the types of people who shop at Carrefour. Interestingly they were all sold out which means that either Carrefour is poor at managing stock or that the promotion was much more successful than they hoped - I'm hoping the latter and that we see more promotions like this in future.