Canadian Grocery Store Uses Emotion Of Shame To Change Consumer Tendency Of Plastic

One Canadian grocery chain has taken recourse in encouraging customers to shun single use plastic usage and potentially alter their consumer behavior by trying to spur up their emotion of shame.

Currently, consumers emotions have been attempted to be tingled with respect to not using single use plastic by highlighting issues such as concern over the climate crisis or repulsion over the contamination of the food chain. Many a times such attempts have been found to have been unfruitful and therefore the Canadian company is hopeful that its latest attempt would help customers from refraining from using single use plastic, said a report published in The Guardian newspaper.

The East West Market in Vancouver offers single use plastic bags that read “Wart Ointment Wholesale” or “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” to customers who do not bring their own bags to the market.

The plan wasn’t to embarrass customers, said the Guardian report quoting the owner of the shop David Lee Kwen. “We wanted to give them something humorous, but also something that made them think at the same time,” he told the Guardian. “It’s human nature not to want to be told what to do.”

Initially, Kwen probed with the practice of charging the customers with a fee for using single-use bags in the hope that it would discourage them from such usage. But that attempt failed and forced the owner to try out this innovative method.

The aim of printing such phrases on the plastic bags was to make the customers contemplate their single use plastic consumption habits. Millions of plastic bags are used once before being discarded which is majorly responsible for the increasing problem of plastic waste, said the store in a social media post.

The issue of single use plastic – the ones that cannot be recycled and thereby finds its place in the landfills, is also faced by Canada, just like many other countries. Plans to put a stop on single-use plastics in Canada in 2021 – which would includes such bags used for grocery, plastic cutlery and straws, was announced by Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, earlier this week.

“Some of the customers want to collect them because they love the idea of it,” he said. But he still believes the plan is working. “Even if you have the bag, you have to explain its origin to your friends. And then, we’ve started a conversation,” admits Kwen that his efforts could have created an unintended consequence with respect to single use bags.

Customers are charged 5 cents for the bags that have been run in limited numbers of 1,000 by Kwen. He however has to shell out extra money for printing the slogans on the bags and hence the owner is hopeful that customers would soon change their consumption behavior and would bring their own bags.

“It’s a double-edged sword. We wanted to address an issue, but we’ve also made something popular, so it’s turned out great,” Kwen said.

(Adapted from


Categories: Creativity, Economy & Finance, Strategy, Sustainability, Uncategorized

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