Last week when I went to the grocery store, I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to buy any fruits and vegetables. I could not find the plastic bags for produce anywhere, and was about to resign myself to having to search for my bananas elsewhere. I was really disappointed because there were fresh sprigs of basil and some juicy peaches in one display that looked so delicious. Finally, I realized that there were some brown paper bags right next to where produce is weighed. I thought that they must have just run out of plastic bags that day.
When I got to the checkout, I discovered that it was not in fact a mistake. There also were no plastic bags to carry your groceries; just thicker reusable bags for sale. The grocery stores had actually eliminated plastic bags in preparation for next year’s climate conference, COP 22, which will be held in Marrakech in November.
Morocco is certainly not yet a model for environment friendliness; there is no recycling system, public transportation is not good enough to allow people to forgo driving to work, and plastic bags are still used by small shops, despite the change made by the big grocery stores. But a big solar power station was recently built in the South, and Morocco is clearly making an effort to clean up its act.
There is nothing like the pressure of being watched by the rest of the world to force one country to make a change. I can’t imagine Morocco drastically improving its garbage system and traffic problems in the next few months, but I’m looking forward to seeing what other last minute changes will be made!