Back in 2007, the general public, let alone the fashion elite, wouldn’t be seen dead pulling out a pocket full of old carrier bags at the till. Our initial research, looking at the UK, US and European markets, suggested that reusable shopping bags were perceived as the preserve of old ladies and eco warriors, rather than part of normal, mainstream consumer behaviour.
Every person in the country was using an average of 167 plastic bags each year, totalling around 10 billion bags. We wanted to do something that repositioned bringing your own bag to the supermarket as something a little more stylish.
- In 2007 every person in the country was using an average of 167 plastic bags every year, around 10 billion bags a year.
- 1/3 of the UK’s adult population regarded even the simplest green behaviours, such as reusing shopping bags, as part of an “alternative lifestyle”, 2007 Defra survey
We worked with the UK’s leading accessories designer, Anya Hindmarch, on the creation of a strong, simple, beautiful bag, with the defining line and layout coming from our friends at Antidote, before bringing in Sainsbury’s in the UK and Whole Foods in the US to sell them with little or no margin. Unlikely bed-fellows came together around our solution with amazing results.
Getting the bag seen on the arms of Kylie Minogue, Mischa Barton, Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley, Lily Allen, Erin O’Connor and Lily Cole was a crucial part of the success.
The community layers that we added to the high media profile helped keep the ripples rolling. Specifically, we extended the campaign into a series of “Plastic Ain’t My Bag” materials for schools to run their own events and for retailers to make in-store commitments.
These materials and activities included:
- Retail displays in independent stores and national chains
- Events run by local children in shopping centres across the UK
- Lots of singing children
Following the release of the I’m Not a Plastic Bag shopper and a set of other media and community campaigns, the number of ‘single-use’ plastic bags used in the UK has dropped by 43 per cent in the past five years. The British Retail Consortium estimated that in 2006, the UK alone used 10.6 billion, this figure has dropped to 6.1 billion in 2010. With increased awareness and continuous campaigns by leading UK supermarkets, use of plastic bags is set to decrease further.
- Sainsbury’s cut the number of bags they give away by 58% in the two years that followed the campaign, giving out 312 million fewer bags in 2008 than in 2007 and saving 13,200 tonnes of virgin plastic over two years.
- People queued for up to 5 hours in the snow to bag their own shopper.
- Kylie Minogue, Mischa Barton, Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley, Lily Allen, Erin O’Connor and Lily Cole were among the celebs that used and loved them.
- You can still get your own fake on eBay for £400.
- The I’m Not a plastic bag shopper sold out in just 2 hours from Anya Hindmarch’s store.
- Customers were limited to just two bags per person.
- US Vanity Fair magazine gave I’m Not a plastic bag shoppers away as their Oscar party goodie bag.
There’s a new must-have bag in town.
The must-have fashion accessory of the year.
We can make it cool to do the right thing – fashion gives people a platform to do that.
As a luxury fashion brand we are in a position where we can influence. I can’t think of a more positive way to do this than producing a desirable and cost effective alternative to a plastic carrier bag.
We strongly believe that encouraging customers to shop with re-usable bags is the best solution, and this one-off 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
Featured in the Super Contemporary exhibition at the Design Museum.