Jerusalem shoppers embrace Plastic Bag Law

"I think it’s wonderful the gov’t is doing something about pollution."

January 3, 2017 04:50
3 minute read.
JOAN AND JOE Freudenberger show off their environmentally friendly shopping bags at a Shufersol in J

JOAN AND JOE Freudenberger show off their environmentally friendly shopping bags at a Shufersol in Jerusalem on Sunday.. (photo credit: DANIEL K. EISENBUD)

Hours after the Environmental Protection Ministry’s Plastic Bag Law took effect – charging grocery store customers 10 agorot for once-free plastic bags – shoppers at a popular Shufersal in downtown Jerusalem overwhelmingly embraced the measure.

As of January 1, Israel joined a host of primarily Western, environmentally conscious countries, that have enforced full or partial bans on plastic bags as a means of mitigating the pollution the ubiquitous shopping staple engenders.

Bundled up in her winter wear on a chilly Sunday afternoon, Shifra Glickman, a South Africa native who made aliya to the capital 10 years ago, said that while she is not keen on paying for plastic bags, she nonetheless sees the prudence of the new law.

“I’m not pleased about paying the 10 agorot,” she said, “but I think that in theory it is a very good idea to get rid of the plastic bags, and get rid of the pollution they cause.”

Displaying her recently purchased blue, wheeled shopping cart used to transfer her groceries, Glickman said that she will gladly use cloth bags going forward.

“They still give out the clear bags for vegetables and produce for free, so I’m not upset,” she noted.

Moreover, adding that her stepson, a marine researcher in Hawaii who has long cautioned her about how plastic bags harm sea life, Glickman said she has become increasingly sensitive to the issue.

“I think it’s wonderful that [the government] is doing something about pollution,” she said.

While perusing the vegetable aisle, a 29-year-old musician, who requested her name not be published, toted a cloth bag, although she said she was unaware of the mandate.

“I think it’s cool,” she said of the new law. “It’s been going on in Europe for years now, and everybody’s OK with that. I think it’s progressive and good for the environment.”

Octogenarians Joan and Joe Freudenberger, who made aliya from Long Island, New York, in 2008 and have been married for nearly 60 years, came to the supermarket after celebrating the brit mila (circumcision) of their great grandson.

“I agree with the policy,” said Joan, a retired biochemist for a pharmaceutical company. “I think it is very important to protect the environment. We have a responsibility to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to keep the environment clean, so I’m 100% for it.”

Indeed, Joan noted that the couple has eschewed plastic for large canvas shopping bags for years to chip in.

“We did this in the United States as well, actually,” she said.

“One of the grocery stores there used to give you a 5-cent refund if you put your groceries into a canvas bag instead of a plastic bag, which was a great incentive.

So, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and it’s just a question of getting used to it.”

“You have to change and adapt to what goes on around you,” she added.

Joe, a retired mathematician, said he and his wife have a well-practiced routine at this point, where he puts the groceries in the canvas bags while Joan pays for the food.

Asked his view of the new law, Joe smiled and said: “After almost 60 years of marriage, I don’t have the desire to disagree with her.

Besides, it’s a smart thing to do because we get quite a few plastic bags in the house and then have to throw them out and put them in a special container, which is an unnecessary task, which is why we normally go shopping with our own bags.”

Asked if they ever found toting around their canvas bags inconvenient, Joe shrugged and said: “I think it’s fine.”

"It’s just another thing people will have to get used to,” Joan said. “Life changes, and you have to change with it.”

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