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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Bags for Good co-ordinator, Fiona Jenkin, recording bag adventures on the mission to reduce textile waste, reduce plastic, and build friendships.