K-Market Kalevantori is a store without plastic bags

Many of us put our groceries in a plastic bag at the checkout out of habit. At K-Market Kalevantori, you can’t do that anymore. Like all K-food stores in the town of Kerava, K-Market Kalevantori is part of the ‘Plastic bag free Kerava’ initiative. We visited the store to see customer reactions.

K-Market Kalevantori’s retailers Marjo Hiisijärvi and Lauri Lindgren joined the initiative in spring 2018. The store now offers reusable, paper, and biodegradable bags to shoppers instead of plastic bags.

Kerava wants to be the first plastic bag free town in Finland, and to steer local consumers to behave in a more sustainable manner and reduce their consumption of plastic.

Idea for the ‘Plastic bag free Kerava’ initiative came from Mari Granström, and she has managed to get the town and many local businesses to join in, including all K-food stores in Kerava.

“Our objective is to make Kerava completely plastic bag free by November 2019. Finns use 300 million regular plastic bags and 900 million small thin plastic bags every year. Most of these are reused as garbage bags for mixed waste and end up in refuse incineration plants, where valuable raw materials are not recycled, but turn into ash and slag (400,000t/year) instead,” says Mari Granström.


You can change your habits

Marjo Hiisijärvi and Lauri Lindgren started as the retailers of K-Market Kalevantori last spring. Mari Granström contacted them soon after and introduced them to the initiative. Environmental issues are important for the retailers, and adopting a new kind of plastic bag policy was easy in a new store.

“At first, customers were apprehensive about the lack of plastic bags, but soon many said at the checkout that they didn’t really need a bag and could fit their groceries in their backbag,” says Marjo Hiisijärvi.

Many customers justify buying a plastic bag for groceries by noting that they reuse them as garbage bags.

“This is a good habit, but you don’t always need to buy a new bag when you come to the store. You can also put your trash in empty wrapping and packaging. We also plan to start selling the new large Pirkka garbage bags made from recycled plastic using wind power,” says the retailer.

Shopping bag habits have changed among the customers of K-Market Kalevantori: many people now come in with their own bag, or use a bag left by another customer at a special recycling bin at the front of the store. Those who need to buy a bag can choose from a variety of reusable, paper, and biodegradable bags.

“Alternative shopping bags are no more costly for the customers, as changes in pricing made last spring mean that plastic, paper and biodegradable bags now all cost the same in all K-food stores. Also, Pirkka’s reusable bags only cost one euro, but last a long time.”


Every customer is different – and every shopping bag is different

We visited K-Market Kalevantori and asked customers their views on the lack of plastic bags. While most customers considered it a good way for the store to influence the consumption habits of its customers, there were some die-hard plastic bag fans, too.

Tia Ceder:

“I think it’s a good thing that the store doesn’t offer plastic bags. I chose a biodegrabale bag as usual.”

Tuukka Kulmala:
“I don’t need plastic bags because I always come with a backbag. I was surprised to find out that paper bags now cost the same as other shopping bags.”

Some customers carried smaller items to their car by hand, and many had brought their own bags, some containing additional spare bags for bigger items.

The retailers of K-Market Kalevantori know that not all customers are happy about the lack of plastic bags.

“Some customers have criticised the policy. They see no reason to change their habits, and we must respect everyone’s opinion. However, K Group is committed to the EU objective of reducing the consumption of plastic bags to 40 bags per person by 2025. By taking part in the initiative here in Kerava, we are doing our share,” says Hiisijärvi.


Read more about the ways in which K Group is tackling plastic consumption:

Visit the ‘Plastic bag free Kerava’ website (in Finnish):

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