If you pay attention to the ages of the people who have expressed their unhappiness about the plastic bags ban, you will notice one thing about them; they are probably below a certain age. Incidentally, this happens to be the age that has set up camp on social media. I say incidentally because I don’t believe that we can only ‘hear’ their ‘voices’ because they are on social media. I believe it is because this is the age group that grew up with plastic bags around every corner.
When I was growing up (and I won’t bore you with when), plastic bags and packaging were not a common sight. In fact, few people used them even though they were probably available. I couldn’t tell you why this was the case (because I wasn’t paying attention, not because I wasn’t old enough to remember), but I can tell you it probably had more to do with culture than the Government.
In those days, we were more familiar with drinking straws made from paper, not plastic, and ‘Mafuco’ bags, the brown paper bags that packaged our sugar and bhajias. We also knew that milk packets were made of ‘Tetra Pak’ cartons and toilet paper sold in bulk was packaged in 3-ply brown bags (that supermarkets recycled to pack our shopping). It was actually prestigious to have your shopping packed in these makonge-tied bags because it meant that you had enough money to buy commodities for a whole month.
And then there were sweet wrappers that were made of wax paper – from Big G to Toffee to Goody Goody. The best part was licking the wrapper, folding it nicely and keeping it in your pocket (we didn’t litter and not because there was kanjo). Plastic sweet wrappers were for imported sweets that were reserved for people who had returned from ‘oversees’ (‘majuu’ ni vocabulary ya millenials).
So if you’re in this age group, look around and notice that anyone above that age is not whining about the plastic bags ban. It’s not because we’re too ‘unmillenial’ to be on social media. It’s because we miss our clean, plastic paperbag-less country. There. I have unleashed ‘vocab mpya’.
Christine Koech, Eve Editor