Public Shaming and Even Prison for Plastic Bag Use in Rwanda

Public Shaming and Even Prison for Plastic Bag Use in Rwanda

By KIMIKO de FREYTAS-TAMURA

Crossing into Gisenyi, Rwanda, from Congo. Border officials are on the lookout for smugglers trying to bring plastic bags into the country. Credit Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi for The New York Times

GISENYI, Rwanda — They are sometimes tucked into bras, hidden in underwear or coiled tightly around a smuggler’s arms.

They’re not narcotics or even the illegally mined gold and diamonds that frequently make it across the border into Rwanda. But they are, at least in the eyes of Egide Mberabagabo, a watchful border guard, every bit as nefarious.

The offending contraband? Plastic bags…