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Amid plastic bag bans, shoppers find playfully creative ways to carry groceries

More and more cities around the globe are banning single-use plastics.
/ Source: TODAY

As more cities and countries enact legislation to ban single-use plastics, consumers are devising uniquely creatives ways to haul their goods home.

Instead of using a sturdy cloth bag or even a faux leather tote, folks in Thailand are making a splash on social media for employing some pretty unusual grocery-carrying techniques.

Some have been spotted with suitcases.

At least one creative customer was spotted rolling in a big wheelbarrow.

Thitiwut Varoon loading his wheelbarrow at a 7-Eleven in Thailand
Thitiwut Varoon

Though much more compact than a wheelbarrow, another shopper was spotted with a slow-cooker device.

And, perhaps in a move that was purely motivated by getting an Insta-worthy snap, one shopper posed with a giant orange cone filled with snacks.

"I've seen carry-on luggage and a pram being used," Chris McLouglin, an expat living in Bangkok, told TODAY. One Facebook album features over 70 photos of locals getting creative with their shopping trips.

While many people in Thailand — including the guy who drove his scooter into a store and started loading groceries into the seat — seem to be doing it for social media, others are simply trying to adjust when caught off guard without a proper carrying vessel.

Thailand's plastic bag ban does not fully go into effect until 2021, but many major retailers, like 7-Eleven, have already stopped offering plastic bags. Of course, the country is far from alone in enacting legislation meant to combat global plastic waste.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, more than 90 countries have restrictions (if not complete bans) on the high-density polyethylene bags many grocery shoppers have relied on since the 1980s.

In the U.S., municipalities in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont have all enacted partial or complete single-use plastic bag bans.

A-yen Thanaphon shops with a clothes hanger in Thailand
A-yen Thanaphon

Like many supporters of environmental legislation, the Thai government's primary goal is to reduce plastic waste in the ocean. The majority of the land-based plastic that ends up in the world's oceans comes from just five countries: China (the largest contributor), Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. According to a recent article in The Bangkok Post, less than 10% of plastic ever made has been recycled. Thailand plans to enact bans on all seven of the plastics most commonly found in the ocean by 2025.

Of course, there is some irony in the fact that many of the Thai people seen shopping sans plastic bags are still purchasing food in plastic packaging. In Thitiwut Varoon's viral photo, his wheelbarrow is loaded with more than a dozen plastic water bottles, many of which are also wrapped in plastic.

Still, Varoon's intentions seem good. A caption on his Facebook page accompanying the photos translates roughly to, "Reduce global warming; do not distribute bags."

Many stores that sell food throughout the country also now sell reusable bags or have cardboard boxes to their customers.

Shopping with a hamper in Thailand
Thiraphong Maat

American shoppers are usually familiar with the rules at their own local grocers, but as more cities and states pass plastic bag legislation (95 state bills regarding plastic bags were introduced in 2019), shoppers may have to get creative if they're caught without a reusable tote at an unfamiliar.

Some already are.

Samuel McCain, a 24-year-old who lives in Washington State, told TODAY that he now shops at grocery stores and hardware stores with his Burley bike trailer, which was originally designed to haul little kids or pets. It's basically his own personal shopping cart that he can simply wheel right out of the store.