A designer shopping bag that helped reduce plastic usage

In 2007, we worked with the UK’s leading accessories designer, Anya Hindmarch, to create a stylish, ergonomic bag, that provided a practical alternative to using new single ­use carrier bags and repositioned the concept of bringing reusable bags to the supermarket, making it part of mainstream culture.

The need

“We strongly believe that encouraging customers to shop with re­usable bags is the best solution, and this one­off Anya Hindmarch bag will make it much more appealing for customers to do that. It’s also great news that our 16 million customers will be able to buy an Anya Hindmarch bag as well as helping the environment.”

Justin King, chief executive, Sainsbury’s

Data from 2007 showed every person in the country was using an average of 167 plastic bags each year, totalling around 10 billion bags and requiring over 420 million tonnes of virgin plastic.

Reusing plastic bags or owning reusable shopping bags was perceived as the thrifty or eco behaviour, and not appealing to a wide consumer audience.

What we did

“We can make it cool to do the right thing – fashion gives people a platform to do that.”

Anya Hindmarch

We worked with Anya Hindmarch to create a design that our target audience would find practical and attractive. The bags were stocked in Sainsbury’s stores across the UK, Wholefoods in the USA and Anya Hindmarch’s flagship store.

A successful PR campaign, involving celebrity endorsement (including Kylie Minogue, Mischa Barton, Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley, Lily Allen, Erin O’Connor and Lily Cole) and features in publications such as Vogue and Grazia, increased sales of the product itself, but more importantly, brought the issue of plastic waste reduction to new audiences.

The product was complemented with public commitments from other retailers, including both independent stores and national chains, to reduce the number of single use bags given away.

Impact

“There’s a new must­ have bag in town.”

Grazia

Customers queued for hours for the bag and Anya Hindmarch’s store sold out in just two hours.

Following the release of our product, the PR around the topic, as well as the wider public debate, there was a drop in the number of plastic bags given away by Sainsbury’s, our partners on the project, by 58% over two years. 312 million fewer bags were distributed in 2008 than in 2007, saving 13,200 tonnes of virgin plastic over two years.

 

Research

Comment

@Shift_org

Coverage

The Amazing £5 ‘IT’ Bag
Grazia, 6th July 2007

It’s in the bag, Darling
BBC, 25th April 2007

Style with a conscience
Harpers Bazaar, July 2007

Eco Stylish
Vogue, July 2007

Shoulder Responsibility
Harpers Bazaar, July 2007

Hundreds queue for ‘green’ bag
South China Morning Post, 6th July, 2007

 

Partners

anyahandmarchFashion accessory designer. Anya Hindmarch, MBE, designed the iconic bag and sold it through her stores.

antidoteDesign agency, created and designed the line “I’m not a Plastic Bag”.

sainsburysNational supermarket chain, stocked the bags throughout the UK.

whlefoodsNational supermarket chain, stocked the bags throughout the US.