Sainsbury’s and Waitrose to sell a British designer’s tote bag in a bid to reduce single-use plastic.
The supermarket experience isn’t very chic, with the exception of a new brand of oatmilk and a tin of chopped tomato that is visually appealing – unless Anya Hindmarch is there.
After causing a stir in 2007 when the “I Am Not a Plastic Bag” bag opened up a debate about single-use plastic, the accessory designer is back at the checkouts this winter with a bag that she hopes will change the way we shop.
Hindmarch’s new shopping bag was created to end the stigma of the shopping bag being an unloved piece that is lost, disposed of or left behind in the car boot. It is a luxurious item at a high-end price of PS10.
It is described as the “next generation reusable shopping bags” and was created in response to data from government showing that nearly half a million single-use plastic bags were sold between 2020-2021, five years after the introduction of a government levy for carrier bags.
After discovering that the supermarket’s “bag for life” was not an environmentally friendly solution, the launch date of 2 December is set. After learning that many 10p bags were ending up in the trash, several food retailers removed them from their stores. The average household uses 50 bags per year.
Hindmarch has created a large tote bag that features a smiley face logo, racer-style straps and an oversized size. The bag is burgundy to match Sainsbury’s trademark colour. It will also be available in racing-green at Waitrose when it goes on sale in January. According to the designer, the project is about “eco and not ego”. He is currently in negotiations to have the bag launched at other supermarket chains.
It would be more at home in Hindmarch’s boutiques where the average price for a handbag goes to PS900 than among the marked-down mangos and Graze boxes. Hindmarch hopes that this accessory will stand out from the rest.
The bag is made of recycled plastic and can be easily recycled. A built-in pocket acts like an envelope. It can also be used as a pre-addressed letterbox, so it can be placed in any mailbox when the owner is ready to part.
It can withstand 10 years of hard labor. The designer says that you can put your shopping and other items in it, and then lug it around while waiting for the bus.
Critics of the fashion industry will doubt the necessity for another mass-market fashion item as the UK’s landfill situation worsens. However, Hindmarch is a smart businesswoman, UK trade ambassador and environmentalist who believes that incremental improvements are essential.
She says, “We won’t be able to get rid of bags because we have to move things around.” She hopes the universal bag will inspire shoppers to look for long-term solutions and not just a temporary solution. “The more we sell, the better. I want people to purchase one, keep it for at least 10 years, then get rid of it.”
Zoe Avison from the Green Alliance environmental thinktank welcomes the introduction of a bag that will appeal to consumers. She says that if it encourages shoppers not to throw away their trash, it will have a positive effect.
She puts the responsibility on supermarkets to create lasting and meaningful change. She says, “If cheap bags are still available at the tills, this bag will not be transformative.” “The UK should consider Ireland. Bag use dropped 90% in Ireland after a minimum of 70cs was introduced.”