Published on April 10, 2008
Visitors walked from booth to booth, holding books in plastic bags as if they had ten arms.
The fair's organiser proudly announced that it had 1.5 million visitors this year.
Imagine, even if each of 1.5 million visitors bought only one book, the number of plastic bags distributed at the fair.
Last year, there was a popular campaign, "I'm not a plastic bag", in which a cotton bag designed by Anya Hindmarch was launched in collaboration with the global social movement.
Thai companies were quick to join the trend. They started providing cotton bags printed with company logos. Garment factories in Thailand flourished, thanks to the bulk orders for custom-made cotton bags.
At the book fair, most publishers followed the trend. Some provided cotton bags as rewards to customers while others had them for sale.
I saw book- worms carrying cotton bags, but when buying books, they took plastic bags and put them in the cotton bag.
It seems most publishers did not go beyond the fashion campaign of putting their trademarks on cotton bags. They did not care how the bags were used.
To be fair, however, such campaigns will never be successful without consumers' consciousness.
Central Food's Go Green campaign has given out 20,000 fabric bags.
"On an average, I see about five customers a month who come with fabric bags and do not ask for a plastic bag," a cashier at Central's Big C's Tops Super said.
In the final analysis, cotton bags have become nothing more than a fashion statement. They do nothing to help the environment.
Subhatra Bhumiprabhas can be contacted via e-mail at