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Monday November 2, 2009

Everyone Loves an Old Bag

Savvy Majorcans like nothing better than the odd freebie and what could be more tempting than the offer of an old bag, or to be more exact, a traditional wicker basket?

As the leading producer, and third largest consumer of plastic bags in Europe, Spain isn’t known for its commitment to recycling. But recently it seems to have had an epiphany and here in Majorca, sustainability is at the top of the agenda. French supermarket chain, Carrefour, widespread throughout Spain, has led the campaign, banning plastic bags and offering an environmentally friendly alternative at 50 cents a go.

In my local town of Sóller our resourceful ajuntament, the town council, finally cottoned on, and not to be outdone, came up with an environmental scheme to lure the locals. A free booklet was issued for collecting stickers, as proof of purchase, from sixteen different shops in the town. Once the card was full, it could be redeemed at the town hall for a complimentary wicker basket.

As soon as the cards were issued consumer excitement was palpable and before long the shops ran out of stickers. The local newspaper expressed shock and dismay and in haste emergency stocks were supplied. I became as competitive as the rest, comparing my number of stickers with those of other shoppers and basking in the knowledge that a wicker basket would soon be mine. When the booklet was full I rushed off to the special environmental desk established in the town hall only to be told that I would need to provide my passport, identification documents and residencia permit. A few smug shoppers in the queue raised an eyebrow when I left empty handed.

Yesterday I returned and was triumphant in my quest. With great aplomb I strolled the streets of Sóller, a proud bag lady with my free gift. People came up to admire my new wicker baby and shopkeepers tested the handles for strength. Who would have thought a free bag could create such a frisson of delight in one small town?

As far as environmental campaigns go, our local town council really has got it in the bag.

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