How did the world’sbag habit get so outsized? Just about a year and a half ago, the Chinese government decided to end, or seriously discourage, the use of thin plastic bags. You know the kind. You hardly get your purchase home and they’ve split or the handle’s come off. Most end up in landfills or city streets or tree branches or parks or roadsides or even the stomachs of cows (a common occurrence in India). China’s bag ban applied to those specimens .025 millimeters thin, or thinner. Now, according to the Worldwatch Institute, the government estimates that at least 40 billion of the bags that would have been used during the course of a year, weren’t. Before the ban, people across China used an estimated three billion thin plastic bags a day, just over two for each person. In the U.S., the plastic bags consumed each year total is 100 billion. That’s more than 300 bags for every person in the U.S., so slightly less than a bag a person a day. China’s setting a pace of reduction in their use that it would be excellent for other countries to follow. Or better yet, exceed. But no rest for campaigners, or the government. A survey by Global Village – Beijing, a leading Chinese environmental NGO, found that 80 percent of shops in rural areas of China continue to offer, free, the thin plastic bags. So, alas, does my local health food store – and there are many takers.