After all the grocery shopping I’ve done here, there have been a few little things that I’ve noticed about the stores that I really like. These things may not be exclusive to South Africa, but they are nice nonetheless. The first thing would be that grocery stores charge for their plastic bags. I think that’s great because it gives people an even bigger incentive to use reusable bags (which are also available at every register, usually in multiple colors and designs). I know that using plastic bags is bad for the environment and I have a bunch of reusable bags back home, but I barely ever use them. Here, I find that I remember to bring my reusable bag more often because I don’t want to pay for plastic bags when I already paid for a reusable one. It makes me less lazy, and I’m guessing, or hoping, that it makes other people less lazy/forgetful too.
Another thing is that all prices already have tax included, not just grocery stores, but everywhere. It makes it so much easier to be aware of what you’re spending, which is very nice when you’re on a budget. If you don’t want to spend more than 200 Rand at the grocery store, you don’t have to figure out about how much each food item will be after tax, you can just add it up in your head and know how much the total will actually be and not be surprised when you get to the register.
Finally, while it may be rather annoying sometimes, the food expires quicker. At first this really bugged me until it was pointed out to me that it means the food has fewer preservatives in it. So that is really nice. It also has made me reconsider my priorities. Now I’d rather buy food with fewer preservatives and go to the store more often than buying bulk food that lasts forever.