Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Plastic Bags

The unlimited uses for Black Plastic Bags...

Black Plastic Bags, affectionately referred to as BPB from here on out, are ubiquitous in St. Vincent. The most common place to find BPB is the grocery store and any and all small shops, whether it is a supermarket, clothing store, pharmacy, what have you.  Whenever you purchase something, anything, it is placed in a BPB.  Often times, the bag is tied.
I just bought $5 or $150 worth of groceries and it’s all put in BPB.  Depending on the items, the bags are double bagged and sometimes tied.  The way they tie the bags here is different, and I can never get them untied.  I always have to tear open the bag.
BPB are used to put Styrofoam (as a materials scientist and a self-proclaimed environmentalist, this is the material I abhor the most) food containers in after you leave the shop/restaurant/stall.
BPB are the go-to method of transporting goods to/from one another and from stores.  You brought some food to a neighbor and left your plate there, no problem it will be returned to you in a BPB.  You left your clothes at my house, its ok, it will be hand delivered to you in a tied BPB. God forbid people know what it is you are carrying. You want to lend your DVDs to someone; sure thing coming at you in a BPB.
Other Uses for BPB include:
Trash bags-I have never bought garbage bags.  And I still have a crap load of BPB.
Food containers-I have used BPB to carry snacks, to pack my lunch for school, and to store food. 
Purses-I have seen women carry everything they have in BPB.
Wallets-I have also been behind people at the grocery store who pull out all their cash/cards from a BPB.
Shower/bathing caps when at the sea or when it rains-BPB come in handy when you cant/don’t want to get your hair wet at the beach or when it rains.
Bookbag-I have carried many students’ notebooks in BPB.  It’s just easier to carry when my school bag is already full.
Waterproofing for electronics-Don’t want your phone to get wet? Don’t want your camera to get paint all over it while at J’Ouvert? No problem, just put it in a BPB and tie it up.
Gloves-I have use BPB for cleaning, or any other time I dont want my hands to get dirty.

Special Guest Appearance: the Clear Plastic Bag (CPB)
            The intended use of the CPB is mostly for food packaging.  Sugar, flour, rice, salt, popcorn, and most other food that is bought in “bulk” is sold in CPB.  If you buy any vegetables or fruit at the Vegetable Market, they will be put in a tied CPB for you to carry home.  Fish, chicken, bread and eggs come in CPB.
            Similar to BPB, CPB can also assume the aforementioned roles once they have served their initial purpose.  

 Types of BPB

The BPB comes in a vast range of sizes and different “types” of plastic.  There is matte black and there is shiny black.  Let me digress and give you some lessons in materials science (oh how I miss this!). They are made of polyethylene (PE); the most common plastic.  There are many types of PE with various molecular structures and properties.  Depending on the density of the PE, will determine properties including flexibility or ductility, toughness and chemical resistance.  Applications of PE range from (in order of highest density to lowest density): artificial joints and implants, milk jugs, detergent bottles, pipes, shrink wrap, bubble wrap, plastic bags, hoses, tubes, food packaging, etc. Most BPB are Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE).

Many times I have found unusual uses for BPB and CPB.

 EVERYTHING comes in a BPB.
 Most staples come in CPB-sugar, flour, rice, corn meal, pop corn, peas, beans.  They are also used to put vegetables and fruits that are purchased in the Central Market in Town.
oh and for fish bought at the fish market.

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