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Pupils Bag Victory in Green Campaign
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A group of budding environmentalists have launched a campaign to make their city greener.


The set of middle school students in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, wrote to environmental chiefs urging them to promote the use of reusable cloth bags as an alternative to plastic carrier bags.


Shaanxi Provincial Environment Protection Bureau has now pledged to highlight the benefits of using the more environmentally friendly bags.


"We do not think the plastic bag is a good invention and we hope it is used less in our daily life," Shen Meiyun, one of the campaigning students, told China Daily.


"We want to create a better environment for our city, a city with more than 3,100 years of history."


Shen and her classmates wrote a letter earlier this month to the directors of Shaanxi Provincial Environment Protection Bureau, asking them to advocate the use of cloth bags in supermarkets.


"We made an investigation among our parents and neighbors and 80 percent of them said they were willing to use a cloth bag, though it would cost them 0.5 yuan (US$6 cents) for a bag," said Yang Jinru, one of Shen's classmates.


Statistics show that Xi'an uses more than 1 billion plastic bags annually.


According to local environment protection authority sources, carrier bags are a major cause of land pollution as they are so hard to break down and dispose of.


"We are worrying more and more about the amount of plastic bags seen everywhere in our city," the students said in the letter.


And the students also thought selling the cloth bags might be a good business in a city with a population of more than 4 million in its urban areas.


Wang Xinrong, deputy director of the provincial environment protection bureau, spoke highly of the students. Wang also encouraged them to give more suggestions for environment protection in the future.


"We will make better efforts to encourage local residents to use fewer plastic bags in commercial business", said Chen Xiaoqiang, an official with Xi'an Municipal Environment Protection Bureau.


Xi'an issued rules to try to limit the use of plastic bags in 1999, but a large number are still used in shops, restaurants and supermarkets, according to the official.


He said they proved popular as they were cheap to produce and customers did not have to pay for them.


The provincial environment protection bureau told the students that it will ask some supermarkets to use cloth bags in 2006 and also promote a new type of plastic bag, which are made of materials that can be easily broken down.


The students' suggestion caused much debate among local residents, and many of them said the whole society needed to pay more attention to the protection of the environment.


(China Daily January 27, 2006)

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