Be Quick, Or It Gets Bagged By Default
Japanese pride themselves on customer service, and part of that is efficiently bagging your goods for you at the cash register. This means you need to learn the ‘no bag please’ phrase off by heart and say it as soon as you see the cashier reaching for a bag – otherwise it can be too late!
Refusing plastic for environmental reasons is becoming more popular in Japan these days, but the general mindset seems to be to bag everything. It is not rude to refuse provided you do it in a polite manner.
Here’s how to say that you don’t need a plastic bag next time you’re at the shops:
袋 は いりません (ふくろ は いりません)
Fukuro wa irimasen
I don’t need a bag (Literally: bag, don’t need)
This is a polite way to say that you don’t require a plastic bag and is super useful when you are making any purchases if you don’t want to be responsible for extra unnecessary plastic.
There is also the casual way to say this phrase (Fukuro wa iranai) but this should really only be used if the cashier is younger than you. It’s better to play it safe and just use the polite version ‘Fukuro wa irimasen’ all the time to ensure you don’t come off as rude.