A campaign to replace the ubiquitous plastic bag starts with the iconic sabucán.
A sabucán, the word in Yucatan for tote bag, is not Mayan, but derived from the Taino “sibucan,” which was a bag made of soft tree bark. The reusable bag is woven into Yucatecan identity.
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.
Each year eight billion tons of plastic bags end up in seas, rivers and lakes around the world and have even made their way to the Arctic circle, a serious pollution problem. Wildlife is the first affected; millions of animals die from toxicity, suffocation or from becoming trapped with those bags; moreover, in cities, plastic clogs pipes, drains and sewers, and accounts for 10 percent of all trash on beaches.
In Mexico, only 12 percent of plastic waste is recycled. The sabucán is made of plastic, as well, but is reused for years. It doesn’t end up washing ashore or in the gutter.
Plastic takes up to 2,000 years to degrade and return to nature. If incinerated, it remains in the air as toxic particles.
Three local environmental groups — Mérida Verde, Parque Aák and Tzikbal Iniciaron — started a campaign called “Get Out Your Sabucán Yucatan” to encourage residents to use fewer plastic bags and instead rekindle the Yucatecan tradition of carrying a sabucán when shopping.
Sabucáns are designed with many cool colors and prints, and make terrific and practical souvenirs for your relatives abroad, as well. They are found for sale at practically any mercado.
“Get Out Your Sabucán Yucatan” summarizes:
The world of plastic has become everyday for Mexicans and for the whole world. We forget sometimes the environmental impact that this entails. ‘Get your Sabucán Yucatan’ is a citizen initiative that aims to reduce the use of plastic on a daily basis. By bringing our sabucán to the market, supermarket or convenience store we do our bit for the environment. It is not so difficult and we can make a change.