When you go shopping, you will have to carry your items in a shopping bag. A plastic bag is the usual kind that you get at the stores.
In the 60s of last century, people always brought their own shopping bag to the stores, which was made of strong materials such as plastic or fibers. These bags would last a long time, and people would use it whenever they went shopping for more items than they could carry in their hands.
In later years, stores realized that they could hand out cheap plastic bags to their customers, which carried the logo of the store. The potential was huge, because the bags were cheap and provided huge targeted exposure, since these promotional plastic bags where carried in the vicinity of the store, by people who bought their products. However, the production of these bags harmed the environment, and the consumers threw the custom plastic bag away after using it once, and only one way. Therefore, some shops have started asking a small price for each custom printed plastic bag. This makes consumers aware of the environmental cost, and could potentially increase the efficiency of custom plastic bags, as a reused plastic bag is an extra exposure opportunity.
Some countries in continental Africa have banned plastic bags all together, because there were so many bags lying around in the streets and in the waste bins. Instead, the government installed a policy where people have to use bags that are made of natural fibers. This policy created more work for the people, as these bags take more work to be produced, and the environment does not suffer from the consequence.
The western societies have not tried to ban plastic bags as a whole. They haven’t, because most plastic bags are made of polyethylene, which can be used safely in power plants as fuel, without harmful effects on the environment. In a way, plastic bags add an energetic surplus to the consumer waste.