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"I don't need a bag"

The7thSamurai

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What's the best way in this wasteful country to tell a shop clerk that I don't need/want a plastic bag for my chocolate bar/drink bottle etc.? At the moment I just say "iie, kekko desu" when they go to put the chocolate bar into a plastic bag, but I need something better like "bag wa irimasen".

Warning, rant: It really pisses me off here when they put the smallest thing into a plastic bag. Once time I had a crossont (sp?) which was wrapped in paper, put into plastic wrap, put into a paper bag, then put into a paper carry bag. what??? And they don't even ask you if you want a bag too, they just pack it in there willy nilly, and you have to go out of your way to tell them not to. In fact, I would like to know how to say something like..."why would you even think of putting that packet of chips into a plastic bag? Do you not realise how much of a waste that is? Do you not understand that many plastic bags end up in the ocean, killing wild life? Get some f**king common sence you irresponsible *****."
 

Kara_Nari

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Ouch thats a bit harsh... but I do understand what you mean. That was my biggest surprise when coming to Korea, how much packaging is used for certain things.
I bought scorched almonds once, not even an expensive brand, opened the box, ok opened the plastic wrapper inside the box, ok.. then they had all TEN of the scorched almonds sitting in their own cosy spot in a plastic tray.
The one good thing about the wastage is that they are quite resourceful when it comes to recycling.
However in Korea you have to ask for a bag to put any shopping in, and you have to pay for it too... then thats probably just to cover the costs of the excessive packaging elsewhere.
 

epigene

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Bucko said:
What's the best way in this wasteful country to tell a shop clerk that I don't need/want a plastic bag for my chocolate bar/drink bottle etc.? At the moment I just say "iie, kekko desu" when they go to put the chocolate bar into a plastic bag, but I need something better like "bag wa irimasen".
I do agree 100% with you. 😌 I get frustrated with all the wrappings that come one after another, especially when you buy or give gifts. There are actually environment-conscious people (like me) around, who carry tote bags to shop and refuse wrappings. Looks like the tote bag (like the ones sold at LL Bean) is becoming something of a signal for store clerks that the shopper (usually a woman) is very likely to refuse wrappings! ✌️

"Iie, kekkou desu" should be all right, unless the store clerk can't tell what exactly you are refusing.
Then, go for "Baggu wa irimasen." Don't pronounce it "bag" as you would in English, because that makes it incomprehensible for many store clerks.
The clearest, most outright way of saying it would be: Tsutsumanai de kudasai. (Don't wrap it, please.)

Good luck next time! 🙂
 

Kara_Nari

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Ooh I miss the tote bags... next trip to Japan (can I come back tomorrow???) I will get some, because I just hate that I dont use my plastic bags, only for bin liners, I much prefer to use a tote, less chance of the stupid bag actually falling to bits on you too.
You'd love my friend then, she wraps birthday presents in Newspaper, whereas im just lazy and dont wrap anything.
 

epigene

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Then, go for "Baggu wa irimasen." Don't pronounce it "bag" as you would in English, because that makes it incomprehensible for many store clerks.
Sorry, I spotted a mistake here.... 😌

Yes, "baggu" might be misinterpreted as "handbag" in Japan... "Fukuro" should be better to mean the plastic bag used at stores and supermarkets. So, its:
"Fukuro wa irimasen."

Gomennasai! :sorry:
 

Mikawa Ossan

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I usually say at conbinis when the clerk starts for the bag,

ieie, sono mama de ii desu. -or for PET bottles- ieie, shiiru de kekkou desu.

It works for me!

BTW "shiiru" is like that tape that supermarkets often put on large items when you check out to show that you paid for it. Is there a better way to say this?
 
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Elizabeth

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Bucko said:
What's the best way in this wasteful country to tell a shop clerk that I don't need/want a plastic bag for my chocolate bar/drink bottle etc.? At the moment I just say "iie, kekko desu" when they go to put the chocolate bar into a plastic bag, but I need something better like "bag wa irimasen".

Warning, rant: It really pisses me off here when they put the smallest thing into a plastic bag. Once time I had a crossont (sp?) which was wrapped in paper, put into plastic wrap, put into a paper bag, then put into a paper carry bag. what??? And they don't even ask you if you want a bag too, they just pack it in there willy nilly, and you have to go out of your way to tell them not to. In fact, I would like to know how to say something like..."why would you even think of putting that packet of chips into a plastic bag? Do you not realise how much of a waste that is? Do you not understand that many plastic bags end up in the ocean, killing wild life? Get some f**king common sence you irresponsible *****."
I carry a tote bag like Epigene mentioned in Japan, so usually get asked if I need a plastic one.

The wastefulness isn't really that different than where I live in the US, though. Just the other night in fact my plastic salad box and bananas were put in two separate bags and when I asked for "everything in one" without thinking the clerk considered that to mean double bagging the two together in a single fukuro. :eek: I was angry enough to re-do it myself and take the others back (not that the 'wasted' ones would actually be used again)....which I would never do in Japan. 😌
 

Takakoo

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I work a part time job in the local supermarket. They're trying to cut down on bags there because of the cost of them. We have to put as many things into each bag as possible and encourage the customers to use other things, like boxes, reusable bags, etc. They did a special on the re-usable bags recently.
 

Elizabeth

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"Iie, kekkou desu" should be all right, unless the store clerk can't tell what exactly you are refusing.
Then, go for "Baggu wa irimasen." Don't pronounce it "bag" as you would in English, because that makes it incomprehensible for many store clerks.
The clearest, most outright way of saying it would be: Tsutsumanai de kudasai. (Don't wrap it, please.)

Good luck next time! 🙂
I vote for "Fukuro wa kekkou desu" as the most polite. I don't know how you would say "This is wasteful" ((sore zore no) fukuro ni irete muda ni shite imasu ?).
 
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lexico

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Kara_Nari said:
However in Korea you have to ask for a bag to put any shopping in, and you have to pay for it too... then thats probably just to cover the costs of the excessive packaging elsewhere.
Shopowners are more than happy to throw in a free plastic bag if that makes the customers happy. The thing is environment ... more plastic bags wastes crude oil, and the nation cannot afford to waste a drop of it; besides that the Kyoto Protocol that we signed demands that we reduce fossil fuel burning, and plastic bags indirectly contributes to CO2 increase. The law is strict on giving out free plastic bags in Korea. Several shops were infiltrated by gov'tal probes "politely asking for a plastic bag." The result: 200,000 won fine (roughly 20,000 yen), and a warning the business might temporarily lose license. (the figure might have been 300,000 won, not sure.) There is a reason why they ask you 30 to 50 won for the flimsy plastic bag; I am only surprised that Japan does not take plastic bags with that kind of seriousness -- maybe they are doing it in some other area. I don't have the big picture either. :p

As for the excessive packaging: did anyone notice the business idea called "small packaging ?" As if the idea didn't exist from early on, many businesses in the US and Korea started pushing less quantities of goods into smaller packs, sometimes individually. Funny thing; Japan did it best, and some people still admire the depth and width the concept has permeated the Japanese market. Now even swiss chocolate come in bite-ful packaging not as samples, but as regular products in bulk = bad idea ! 😲
 

misa.j

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Elizabeth said:
I don't know how you would say "This is wasteful" (fukuro ni irete muda ni shite imasu ?).
If you want to be specific and say, "You are wasting a bag.", that would be "Fukuro no mudazukai desu." or "Fukuro o muda ni shite imasu."
 

Kara_Nari

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I dont mind paying for plastic bags in Korea, I was unaware of the fine that they have to pay if they are being caught though.
I would rather just get a tote, or buy a paper bag, they are less noisy and last a little longer.
Excessive packaging though.... even individually wrapped cookies! In a plastic bag in a box.
 

Mikawa Ossan

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Another way to say wasteful is "mottainai"

A couple of weeks ago I got a laugh out of the conbini clerk when I told her,

ieie, sono keihi ha mottainai desu kara
いえいえ、その経費はもったいないですから

On the issue of what is the most polite, I guess it doesn't matter to me what is the most polite. After all, in English I don't always try to be the most polite I can be, and the Japanese around me are CERTAINLY not the most polite they could be when talking to store clerks and whatnot.

:p
 

Mike Cash

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One of my old usenet posts from 2000, which seems worth repeating here:

While shopping at a large supermarket near my company on a recent evening, I
decided to purchase a 10-pack box of those "stamina" drinks. There were several
different brands on display, and being true to my nature I picked up a box of
the cheapest one.

The boxes of this brand had been placed in a clear plastic tote bag for some
reason. However, not all of the boxes were in tote bags. Since I would be
keeping the drinks in my truck, and since getting rid of trash can be a problem,
I purposely chose one of the boxes NOT in a tote bag.

I had no more than picked up the box when from behind the counter flew the
white-frocked saleslady instructing me to take one of the boxes in a bag.

"But I don't want the bag".

"Well, we're selling them in the bag, so bring one in the bag to the register".

So I brought it to the register, told her again that I didn't want the damned
bag, and the reason why. I then took the box out of the bag and told her she
could either use it again or throw it away.

She said that it was the store's practice to have the customers take the product
WITH the bag, and indicated that I was expected to take mine out the same way.
When asked WHY I had to take the bag, she had no better reply than, "Well, as a
store, that's the way we do it."

"Well, as a customer, I'm telling you I don't want it. And how I take the stuff
home is my own damned business".

"But as a store, we have everyone take it in the bag. 100 percent of our
customers take it a bag (without making a big deal out of it)".

"Now you can't say that anymore, because here is one customer who isn't going to
take it".

I paid for the stuff, took the box out of the bag and started to leave,
resulting in a greatly exasperated reaction. She had already taped a piece of
paper onto the bag, indicating that the purchase was paid for, now the tagged
bag was just sitting on the counter, alone and unloved.

"I told you several times I'm not taking it. I have my receipt. I'll take it out
however the hell I want to".

She then told me that the next time I wanted to buy some, I could take it just
in the box but that I should go to a different cash register to pay for it.

I was walking past the service counter when it dawned on me that telling me to
use another cash register on my next visit to the store was just another way of
telling me not to come where she was working. That pissed me off, a bit. I
figured she had tried to place enough conditions on my shopping already, without
going that far. I had the girl at the service counter call a manager out.

Very early into my recounting of the incident to the manager he got a look on
his face of "I can't believe I'm standing here listening to a complaint about
whether a box was in a bag or not".

"I know it sounds stupid," I said.

Since there were both boxes in bags and boxes alone, I thought I had a choice in
the matter. At any rate, I wasn't as though I asked for anything extra. Hell, I
was trying to LEAVE them something that I could see they didn't have enough of
(since some boxes had no bags).
 

lexico

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I liked the story too. If I may make a suggestion, your ending remark within the parentheses would also make a good title.
Since some boxes had no bags
I also get a feeling that the business could have been run by a nissei insisting on store policy. I might be kidding on this one,but there are plenty of small businesses insisting on their unique policies.
 

Mike Cash

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This was a comparatively large combination supermarket and department store, with food court, bakery, and pharmacy. One of a chain operated by what is a pretty large corporation for this area.
 

blade_bltz

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I ended up having to be pretty forceful sometimes, since the clerks just assumed I wouldn't be able to comprehend the question of whether or not I wanted a bag, even if I was just buying a bottle of tea. I stuck with "Fukuro wa irimasen," and oftentimes I'd receive a guilty laugh, and on days when I looked particularly Japanese, an apology. (this depended on the clothes I was wearing not my Asian blood)
 

The7thSamurai

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Update: I tried "fukuro wa irimasen", worked fine. I'll say that from now on. Thanks for an interesting thread everyone.
 

Elizabeth

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Do you not understand that many plastic bags end up in the ocean, killing wild life? Get some f**king common sence you irresponsible *****."
It is still wasteful and I don't condone anyone throwing their garbage in a waterway....although I suppose the vast majority of bags are either recycled or end up in dumps/landfills, for up to 10,000 years, maybe ?
 
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