Monday, July 6, 2009

Wiping up More Pollution

Over a year ago the Chinese government decided to ban giving away free plastic bags of a certain thinness to cut down on pollution. However, those who decided to go to the supermarket at the last minute without a cloth bag could still buy a plastic bag that was thicker. However the inexorbinant charge of a few pennies in RMB has done little to really make people change their consumer habits.
Nevertheless, last month the National Development and Reform Commission proudly announced there was a 66 percent reduction in the use of plastic bags, saving China 1.6 million tons of petroleum.
Before the ban the NDRC estimated 3 billion plastic bags were used daily, creating 3 million tons of garbage a year, and using 5 million tons or 37 barrels of oil to produce the bags.
This is all fantastic, but can I move my complaint now to napkins at restaurants?
Why do they make the ones at Chinese restaurants these tiny cocktail-sized things, when you really need a decent-sized one that also isn't so flimsy that you need more than one?
Now this is a waste of paper resources... why hasn't someone complained about this?
As I'm in Xi'an this week, I've noticed some restaurants are taking to CHARGING customers for a small box of napkins, which are really small tissues.
Last night I went to a slightly fancy restaurant, one with multicoloured tablecloths and numerous servers.
I asked for some napkins and the waitress asked, "One portion?"
I just said yes, thinking, yeah, one napkin is fine.
Only when she came back with a small box and opened it up to reveal some tissues did I realize I was going to be charged for it.
While it only cost 1RMB, I could have been forewarned about it as I already had my own tissues in my bag!
So I took the box of tissues with me after dinner as a souvenir and am carrying them around and using them whenever the need arises. My 1 RMB will go a long way...

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