The functional lifespan of a single plastic bag in one of Yerevan’s grocery stores is literally minutes, from the moment the merchant gives you the plastic bag to transport your items to the moment you get home and remove your items from the bag. Soon after this, plastic bags re-enter Armenia’s environment as trash. It takes over 500 years for each of them to break down, and when they finally do, they poison the Earth and its wildlife for millennia. Here’s the question we want people to think about: Is 500+ years of damage worth 5 minutes of convenience?

Toprak Petq Chi is an initiative targeting single-use plastic bags in Armenia’s grocery stores. It will consist of: 1) Pioneering an alternative. We will do this by launching a Design-Your-Own-Totebag Station in one of Yerevan's public spaces where we will invite passersby to stencil their own designs (or those of local graphic designers') onto blank canvas tote bags. People are more likely to use the bags if it has a special meaning. 2) Generating awareness by writing blog posts in Armenian and English on the issue as well as creating posters and slogans to help people "think outside the bag."

We don’t have to wait for Armenia’s government to enact legislation to do something about this. Most Armenians are are not blind to the hundreds of plastic bags and bottles that litter the environment, but the perceived convenience and social pressure to use plastic bags is greater than the urge to refuse them, which often results in a verbal altercation between the cashier and the customer. Hence, the name of this campaign: “TOPRAK PETQ CHI”. These are the words we must use firmly and adamantly each time we leave the grocery store... until the day we don't have to anymore.

Funded by Yerevan (July 2016)