Monday, August 4, 2008

Japanese Food Bagging Practices - Non Eco-Friendly

Bagging food the "Japanese Way" is a courteous yet non-environmentally friendly act.

I had just run my credit card through the cashier machine, when I saw the Shirokiya (Japanese department store) cashier put my 3 food items into two separate plastic bags. Two bags?! I had only purchased 3 small things: a deep fried scallop croquet, a shrimp tempura sushi roll, and a small plate of potato salad. Why two bags?

"Did she have a spacial disorder? Did she not know that cities like San Francisco are banning the use of plastic bags? Or did she not realize that the extra wasted bag could be used for the next customer's groceries?" I wondered to myself.

Then that I got flashbacks from my memory of living in Japan.

Ahhh! "so desu ne!" I remembered in half English and Japanese.

This is the way that the Japanese bag their groceries. They put all the hot food items in one bag, and all the cold food items in another. This practice allows cold food to stay cold, and hot food to remain hot. How could I forget those days of bicycling home with multiple bags of groceries balanced on each side of my orange handle bars--in the rain? Oh, the flashbacks.

So I guess Shirokiya's grocery bagging practice is thoughtful on one hand, but at the same time I do wonder how they negotiate this with the growing movement of eco-conscientiousness. I'll be keeping an eye out for future bagging practices in Japan.


Anonymous said...

RECYCLE, Mainland girl. The Hawaiian sun is letting you to forget to bring your own bag(s)when going shopping. RECYCLE, ex-Irvine girl.

mainlandgirl said...

My commentary was on the observation that cultural practices are not always lost through the process of corporate or individual relocation to a new place or country. This is not a bad thing. What is interesting though, is to see the extent to which cultural practices are retained, lost or transformed in the midst and context of contemporary global politics--i.e. will the social pressure of environmentalism eventually change Japanese life ways? This is yet to be seen.

You raise a good point, however, and that is that regardless of these larger scale movements we each need to take individual responsibility for our own actions in eco-consciousness.

I was given a paper-cloth recyclable grocery/shopping bag today and I will indeed use it when I shop at Shirokiya (and elsewhere) in the future.