Mexico City takes its people back in time with ban on plastic bags

For centuries, Mexico City residents brought warm tortillas home in reusable cloths or woven straw baskets, and toted others foods in conical rolls of paper, “ayate” net bags, or even string bundles.

Now, people in Mexico’s massive capital city may have to return to those old ways thanks to a new law banning plastic bags that became ubiquitous over the last 30 years. Under the new legislation, grocery stores will be fined if they give out plastic bags. Most will offer reusable shopping bags made of thick plastic fiber, usually selling them for around 75 cents.

The law leaves the door open to using plastic bags “for reasons of hygiene,” presumably for items like deli meats or cheese. It also allows for bags that biodegrade very quickly but sets no specific standards for them.

Not everyone in Mexico City is happy, especially since the 75 cents can be a big penalty for poorer residents who might forget to bring a bag. Still, at the end of the day, it’s a necessary step if the capital seriously wants to curb plastic pollution.  

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