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Blog: Ditch the plastic this Christmas

I've had some very strange looks in shops recently. Not because I'm doing my normal and obsessive compulsive trick of counting sizes to see who's got availability issues.

But because I've taken to refusing carrier bags for clothing purchases and sticking them in a cloth bag given to me as a gift last Christmas.

Some staff at fashion retailers I've visited recently have not taken kindly to this. I recently had to argue my way out of one store after one purchase, and this is in spite of many retailers espousing greener policies.

I know my behaviour aimed at reducing my plastic and paper carrier bag consumption is still rare among consumers, but surely we can expect this to become more common over the next few years.

Today's newspapers ran a story that London Councils, the umbrella group for 33 local authorities in the capital, wants to reduce the four billion plastic bags sent to landfill each year. Under proposals shoppers would have to take their own bags with them or buy reusable bags at the till. Other ideas include charging 10p to 15p per bag.

Last week, the town of Modbury in Devon outlawed plastic bags for six months, with a view to it becoming a more permanent ban.

This raises some interesting challenges for our market. Once the ethics are set aside, the most important one is marketing. A bag is one of the easiest ways a retailer can make a statement about their brand and get some free advertising

The retailer who works out a way around this conundrum will be on to a winning marketing initiative.

Readers' comments (3)

  • There has been a plastic bag levy in ROI for some time now and it was a smooth transfer, the general public were happy to make the change and help the environment.

    It is extremely rare to see people buying bags in supermarkets and clothing retailers provide paper carriers instead.
    All the big UK high street stores based in Ireland have changed to from plastic to paper so and continue to market their brand accordingly without loosing impact.

    It is a definite change for the better even makes people conscious of other recycling issues, the only downside being a rainy day when bags need to be doubled up!

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  • hi there I run a shop in the beautiful cotswold town of chipping campden. Selling footwear, handbags and accessories for the past 3 years I have just ditched plastic bags. Only last week a new arrival of 5000 brown paper bags with the shop logo appeared. This for me is the way forward. Entrusting more people might take this issue on board and do their 'bit.' regards James Keitley for Campden Shoe Company, Chipping Campden.

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  • I try to take my rucksack and a few bags to re-use whenever I go shopping be it the weekly food shop where my heavy duty Ikea bag comes in handy or for a bit of retail therapy. Recently I was at M&S and noticed a large sign at the check out saying that I would be asked if i needed a bag. GREAT!!! I thought...but someone had forgotten to tell the assistant who served me, she put everything straight into a plastic bag and then proceeded to give me a very strange look when I took everything out and told her I was doing my bit for the environment!

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