In May this year, Countdown announced they would be removing the traditional 'single use' plastic bags from their supermarkets - excellent news!
They pointed out that they would encourage customers to bring their own bags: “Our first preference is that customers bring their own bag, box, bucket, wheelbarrow - we don’t mind." Kiri Hannifin from countdown's media release
They also announced their program for supplying 'back up' bags to customers for a nominal charge, just in case customers forget their bags...
These polypropylene (i.e. plastic) bags are familiar to us, as are their propensities to rip, hole, pill if washed, and be awkward to store (due to being almost impossible to keep folded). To counter these deficiencies, Countdown announced that not only are they cheap (either you're paying more for your grocery items to make up the cost, or whoever is making them is not getting a living wage -where ever they live... probably both), but they will also, at no further cost to the customer, replace them whenever they start to wear out, in perpetuity (while groceries continues to get more expensive). The worn out bags can then go into soft recycling (to be shipped overseas...or just stored somewhere because there is no demand for recycled soft plastic - further info).
Countdown say this is 'good for the environment' (reducing the overall number of bags used, and being less likely to blow away into waterways and be eaten etc), and 'good for the customer' (no more than the cost of a packet of biscuits or bottle of fizz).
All this is less excellent news... especially as they chose the same name we had a year earlier (or a very slight variation of it).
We have a registered trade mark for our name, but due to technicalities, so do they. We have had pleasant enough conversations, and there will be no moves to stop us from continuing our work as "Bags For Good"... and there is nothing we can do to prevent them from continuing to use "Bag for Good".
The question is, do we want to continue working as "Bags For Good"? By now far more people associate "Bag/Bags for Good" with the cheap black polypropylene Countdown bags... and not our high quality, durable, colourful, upcycled textile bags made with care and good will by volunteers in our community.
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About this time last year we reached 200 bags, in the first 9 months of the project (and that with the previous, more complex bag design).
Now we’re rapidly approaching 500 finished bags of the new style (just 18 to complete)! We have made 417 ‘Borrow and Bring Back’ bags, and 65 ‘Bought to Support’ bags, with the remaining needed to reach the goal well on their way.
This has saved over 80kgs of textiles from landfill! (Each bag weighs between 80-200grams, an average of 160 grams).
For extra science bonus points, this saves over 100kgs of methane; for Waste Management estimates that textiles contribute 9% of mass in Dunedin Landfill, but 12% of the emissions).
As 500 is the number of single-use-plastic bags estimated as used by each shopper in year, replacing these with out high quality, durable, reusable bags is a very significant impact on our local environment!
As each bag take 2-3 hours from start to finish. That’s 1,500 hours of volunteer work this year!
Each person who has so generously given their time and skill also contributes their warm fuzzies, and I cannot express how much that means to me, and to everyone who enjoys using these bags.
We will be holding an end-of-year celebration on Thursday 20th December, between 1-3pm (just after our last sewing bee), at Morning Magpie Cafe, please pencil it into your calendar. I'll send out invitations soon!
The next thing to do is to start planning how we celebrate reaching 1000!
If you’ve seen our previous newsletters, you’ll know that Blacks Road Green Grocer in North Road, North East Valley have been wonderful supporters of the project. Since June they have hosted a community bag library; loaning bags to local customers who have forgotten their own reusable bags, and happily receiving them back again to pass on the kindness to the next person.
Christopher had so many people asking if they can buy the bags, rather than having to return them, that he has just switched from the ‘Borrow and Bring Back’ bags, to stocking the ‘Bought to Support’ bags. Customers can now purchase these bags and enjoy keeping and reusing these colourful, multi-purpose, upcycled gems for $15.00 each.
Not only are these a way of enjoying a good thing, but the money raised from the sale of these bags helps us pay for all the various costs of the project, and keep it truly sustainable.
Blacks Road Grocer also stock other fantastic re-usable items, such as keep cups, wax wraps and produce bags, and stock a wide variety of quality local produce and grocery items with hardly a piece of plastic in site! Highly recommend stopping in on your way past for a relaxing cup of tea and delicious snack, which brings back strong memories of hanging out in my grandmothers kitchen.
South Dunedin Street Festival
TOMORROW, Saturday 3rd November, from 10am-3pm, as part of our sewing bee taking place in the Armitage Centre, 190 King Edward Street (beside the old post office).
This will be a perfect opportunity if you would like to make a bag to use yourself, or gift to friends or family. We will have everything available to cut, print, press, and stitch your own bag, including hands-on help :)
If you're not sewing-inclined, you are most welcome to purchase one of our awesome bags and help us keep the project going into 2019!
Either way, hope to see you there as part of this exciting event.
Bags for Good co-ordinator, Fiona Jenkin, recording bag adventures on the mission to reduce textile waste, reduce plastic, and build friendships.