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Sales of sabucanes, the traditional tote of Yucatan, surge as plastics are banned

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Sabucans are designed with many cool colors and prints and are found at practically any mercado.

Merida, Yucatan — With increased awareness of the downside of plastics, it seems that the traditional woven grocery bags have become fashionable again.

Sellers at the Lucas de Galvez market reported a 30 percent increase in the sale of the iconic Yucatecan sisal-weave tote bag, the sabucan.

The ban on single-use plastic bags, along with straws and foam food containers, is thought to be connected with this uptick.

What are sabucanes? The Fifth Edition of the Modern Yucatan Dictionary (Ralf Hollmann, Hamaca Press, 2013) describes it this way:

“To go to the market without your trusty plaid sabucán (spelled with an n and pronounced with an m) is just crazy. Where are you going to put those avocados and that half pound of fresh leg of pork? One thing middle to lower socio-economic class Yucatecans have been doing for decades — and something you might well adopt — is taking their bags with them when they go shopping, thereby preventing the profusion of plastic so common these days. While most North American markets have fairly recently begun to promote and sell their re-usable and “green” shopping bags (which you always tend to forget to bring to the store) Yucatecans have been doing this for years.”

Although being phased in gradually, the plastic ban has already had an effect on the public, market vendors say. Several people have opted to purchase sabucanes to use when ordering their food.

One merchant, Judith Domínguez Casanova, said such a surge in sales has not happened for a long time.

“Now they are going to eliminate the plastic bags in the supermarkets. Right now they prefer these that are commonly called sabucan,” she explained.

The interviewee explained that there are different sizes of sabucanes, ranging from a tiny tote for quick errands, to larger ones for stocking up at the supermarket. They can run anywhere from 8 to 100 pesos, depending on size and durability.

One customer, Norma Polanco, told a reporter that she prefers to use this type of bag to help nature, as opposed to constantly disposing of plastic bags that end up at the landfill for years.

“I have several in my house. This time I forgot and said, I’m going to buy one more,” she said.

Another shopper, Antonia Barbudo, said that the sabucan is not to her liking, although she is in favor of eliminating plastic bags.

“I think it’s a good measure for people to get used to another way of carrying their things,” she said.

Source: Punto Medio

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