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.
Here's where we need your input!
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The last month has been highly eventful for the social and economic climate in the world of bags!
Our government announced it's positive response to pressure from community, with it's resolution to have single use plastic bags phased out over the next 12 months.
Major retailers have also responded, with Mitre 10, Z, The Warehouse, Countdown and Foodstuffs removing their traditional single use bags from checkouts (replacing them with stronger versions of plastic bags -intended for reuse...we can hope).
The details are still very fuzzy, and it comes with it's share of controversy...as there always will be with any major social change. If you're keen to follow up on some of the details, here are some great articles:
To give an update, and hear your thoughts on this, we will be holding a public meeting, and hope very much that you'll be able to join us:
BAGS FOR GOOD PUBLIC MEETINGMONDAY 10th September, 6-7pm
Stitch Kitchen Studio: 88 Vogel Street, corner of Jetty Street
Please RSVP by the 7th September by emailing me: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you cannot make it, but have any questions, or suggestions, please also let me know by email.
Bags for Good co-ordinator, Fiona Jenkin, recording bag adventures on the mission to reduce textile waste, reduce plastic, and build friendships.