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Campaign under way to curb plastic bag use

Date Posted: 2007-07-20

The group calls itself the "Plastic Shopping Bags Reduction Team" and its goal is to reduce use of plastic shopping bags across Okinawa.

Sponsored by the Okinawa Prefecture Women's Union, and supported by supermarkets, the group is running a six-month campaign to education consumers on using their own shopping bags instead of the environmentally unfriendly plastic bags. Haruko Kowatari, Okinawa Prefecture Women’s Union Chairwoman, has been working with supermarkets and distribution system companies to market the campaign.

Cards have been produced for shoppers to use, along with their personal shopping bags. Each time a shopper uses his/her own bag, the card is stamped, giving officials an instant idea of how effective the program is. For shoppers, she says, it’s a fast reminder about how each person is helping save the environment.

Once the program is known, officials expect use of plastic bags to be reduced by more than 300,000 each year. “If you make a habit of keeping your shopping bag with you, in your car or purse or office,” she says, “then it will be a success.”

Posters are popping up at supermarkets across the island explaining the new program, and the Women’s Union is asking Prefecture Government and distribution vendors to support the campaign, producing and handing out brochures explaining the program.

Some supermarket chains say they’ll be implementing a plastic bags change of their own. Now given to customers free, shoppers will begin paying for those plastic bags beginning next year.

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