by Fionn Zarubica

img_0201At this point I have driven the length and breadth of Serbia, visiting villages, museums, cultural heritage sites, monasteries and of course family and friends.  I have seen some stunning country and a variety of terrains, rich in agriculture and history.

Sadly, what I have also seen every few miles along the highway, are entire hillsides choked in plastic bags  – the kind you get at the grocery store and mini markets.  

When I came to Serbia this time, I brought with me a couple of reusable grocery bags from my favorite store in Los Angeles, Whole Foods Market.  Whenever I run errands, I always take them with me, and fill them with the things I pick up along the way.  The puzzling thing is that I have to fight with every checkout clerk to put my purchases into my reusable bag rather than into a plastic bag.  

At my little produce market, even after three months of explaining that I would prefer to put my produce directly into my grocery bag, the clerk there still rushes to put everything into individual plastic bags before I can stop her, and then into my grocery bag.  

It is as if people here are worried that not giving me the plastic bag will deprive me of my rights, or make me feel cheated in some way.

I would like to take everyone who accepts a plastic bag with their one pack of gum, for a drive up a Serbian highway.  I would like them to see first hand how the beauty of this country is being diminished and the plants and wildlife edged out.

I haven’t found any reusable grocery bags for sale here, but my friends assure me that they are available; maybe I just don’t know where they are, but I know that everyone has a pillowcase.

Imagine if for one day everyone all over the world were to take a pillowcase to the market and say no to plastic.  International “Take Your Pillowcase To The Market Day”.  Think of the millions of plastic bags that would not find their way onto our gorgeous planet on that one day alone?

What if we did that every day? 

My field is heritage protection, the planet is our ultimate heritage, doesn’t it deserve our protection?

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Images: Zlakusa, Serbia, 2012