They use plastic bags in Panama, lots of plastic bags. If you go to the supermarket, chances are many of your purchases will be double bagged, and the bags won’t be full. It’s the same at the produce market. The tomatoes will be in a small bag, and other small items will have their own small bags and then the little bags will be put into bigger bags. If you don’t bring your own bags it won’t be long before you have an extensive bag collection!
But, no more. News came out recently that President Varela signed a law saying supermarkets and retailers have 18 months to make the change to reusable bags. How cool is that! Google Panama plastic bags and you will find quite a few articles like this one.
I have seen reusable bags for sale for quite a while in the supermarkets. El Rey even has a checkout line just for people with reusable bags, and they have some for sale like these.
This makes me think they have been thinking about decreasing the plastic, but this new law is still going to be a dramatic step. It’s normal here for purchases to be put in a plastic bag, and then the bag is stapled closed with the receipt stapled to the outside. I wonder how they are going to handle this security measure. The supermarkets don’t do this because the only thing past the checkouts are the doors. But, most other shops have the cashiers in the back of the store and you have to walk through most of the store to get outside. I’m sure they don’t want you adding anything to your bag along the way.
I’ve been using reusable bags for a long time, and my favorites are Chico Bags. They tuck into a little bundle that you can easily toss in your purse, but unfolded many of them are large enough to hold a lot and are easily slung over your shoulder. I’ve been using mine since before Panama (5+ years) and they are still doing fine. But, they don’t sell them here in Panama. I suppose you could order on line and have them sent here or, as I plan to do, I’ll order them on line and bring them back with me on my next trip to the US. Now, especially with this new law, I think my friends will find them especially useful.
Change is usually a hassle and I’m sure this will be too, but I think it’s a great step in the right direction. People here aren’t always good about trash, and it seems the majority of the trash and litter is plastic bags. If we can decrease the plastic in the landfills and the chances of it getting into our waterways and oceans, this is a really good thing too.