Cuenca leads the country in the use of reusable shopping bags at grocery and department stores and markets.
According to National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) 64 percent of households used reusable cloth and plastic bags at least once in 2013, most of them multiple times.
Nationwide, only 25.5% of households use reusable bags.
The numbers are significant because the government has announced it will begin phasing out the use of “environmentally unfriendly” plastic bags in June. Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment says there are plastic bags made of biodegrable materials that stores can use for customers who don’t bring their own.
According to Sebastian Izquierdo, director of the ministry, the goal is to train the population to use reusable bags. “This is common practice in Europe and the United States and it saves money and protects the environment at the same time,” he said. “In many countries, a fee is charged if a shopper doesn’t bring a bag. Ecuador is consider such rules.”