Jordan’s plastic bags enjoy more freedom than most of its people. Bags fly free. They don’t need visas to cross borders, and they sidestep beach fees to get into the sea. Shops here hand out an endless stream of non-biodegradable sacks and there’s no penalty for dropping used ones, anywhere. Until the government steps up to ban free issue of these environmental time-bombs, reusable market bags won’t see much play – unless ingenious alternatives like Trolley Bags catch on.
Trolley Bags are eco-friendly, reusable shopping bags developed in Europe, but useful anywhere – particularly here in plastic-choked Amman. It comes as a set of four separate bags, sized to fit most standard shopping carts. Each has sturdy fabric walls with a clever mesh base that expands to fit contents and allows you to see what’s inside. But it’s how the bags act as a unit that makes this product stand out.
The bags fold into a single lightweight roll. Sling it over a shoulder when you go to shop. Grab a shopping cart, open the roll, fan the colorful bags out and start loading up your groceries. Besides being pretty, the colors help sort your purchases – grains in one bag, fruits in another – or fill each with the ingredients for a particular recipe.
The bags are especially useful if you shop in a supermarket that doesn’t offer plastic bags, or doesn’t provide helpers to pack up your purchases. Here in Amman, everything gets slammed into a plastic bag whether you want it or not. Bring your own reusable market bags, but be prepared for a fight.
When I lived in Ireland, the trend in popular markets such as ALDI and Lidl was towards self-packing at the checkout. Trolley Bags would be a natural fit to shops where customers are already accustomed to gathering their purchases into their own brought-from-home bags. Could be that the bag’s designer also shopped at Dublin’s Lidl: Irishman Paul Doyle rose to fame in 2010 when he presented on the Irish version of the BBC’s Dragon’s Den, the TV program where inventors present a product to potential investors.
Trolley Bags were in some ways an invention that had to happen in Ireland, one of the first countries in the world to introduce the plastic bag tax back in 2002. Let’s hope Jordan won’t be the last.
Trolley Bags are available online – order from their Facebook page – for about $25 USD for set of four bags.
Images from Trolley Bags website