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This Grocery Store Shames Customers With Embarrassing Plastic Bags

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East West Market

Forget your reusable bag at Vancouver's East West Market and you will walk out telling the world you're into some kinky stuff, the Guardian reports.


Customers who use a bag from the store will leave toting their purchase in humorous and kitschy plastic bags emblazoned with embarrassing, fake store names, such as "Dr. Toews' Wart Ointment Wholesale," "Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium" or "The Colon Care Co-op."

"Over 1 million plastic bags are used every minute, most of which are filled once, then discarded. So, we redesigned our bags to stop people from taking them, helping customers remember a reusable bag and think twice about single-use plastic," the store wrote in a Facebook video for the new bags

David Lee Kwen, owner of the store that specializes in natural, organic, and fair trade products, insisted that the bags are not intended to shame his customers. "We wanted to give them something humorous, but also something that made them think at the same time," he said to the Guardian.

In smaller print, the bags mention the campaign's aim: "Avoid the shame. Bring a reusable bag." The New York Times reported.

If the intention was to shame its customers, it has backfired. The bags have become a hit since the campaign started last week, when it printed 1,000 bags with the cringe worthy fake stores.

"Some of the customers want to collect them because they love the idea of it," Kwen said to the Guardian. Yet, he sees a positive. "Even if you have the bag, you have to explain its origin to your friends. And then, we've started a conversation."

Vancouver requires businesses to either eliminate plastic and paper bags or to charge a five-cent fee for a bag. Kwen chose the second option.

"We moved to a 5-cent fee as a way to discourage customers from taking them, however, we still saw customers who would forget their reusable bags or not give the 5-cent charge a second thought," Kwen told VICE. "We thought this would be a humorous approach that would get their attention, and make them think about a behavior that can easily become a habit."

While the plastic bags are in a limited run, there success has inspired Kwen to print the fake stores on canvas bags.

The plastic campaign coincides with Justin Trudeau's government announcement that Canada will ban single-use plastics in two years. He highlighted plastic bags as a major part of an environmental crisis.

"To be honest, as a dad it is tough trying to explain this to my kids. How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches across the world, their stomachs jam packed with plastic bags?" Trudeau said on Monday, as National Geographic reported. "How do I tell them that against all odds, you will find plastic at the very deepest point in the Pacific Ocean?"

Canadians use nearly 700 plastic bags a year per person and only 11 percent of all plastics are recycled in Canada, according to figures by Plastic Oceans Foundation Canada. By comparison, shoppers in Denmark only use four plastic bags a year on average, according to National Geographic.

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