After the government introduced the 5p plastic bag charge for large shops and supermarkets, we wanted find a way to help customers of smaller shops reuse their bags. So for a third time, we teamed up with 21 north London shops and provided them with around 100 reusable bags each, to offer to their customers for free.
Why is bag reuse important?
Plastic bags are a big environmental problem. They take a long time to degrade, can damage wildlife and often end up littering our streets and parks. The government 5p levy on single use plastic bags has dramatically helped reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation with the seven biggest supermarkets reporting a reduction of more than 85% in the first six active months. This is great news, however as the charge does not affect small retailers there is more work that can be done to encourage customers of these stores to switch to using reusable bags. The businesses themselves will also be able to save money by not having to purchase plastic bags.
What did we achieve?
Over the course of the year, we recruited three retailers in each of the north London boroughs, from hardware stores, to party suppliers, who were enthusiastic about helping to spread our waste prevention message. We gave them 100 reusable bags each, to offer to their customers as a way to reduce plastic bag waste, and save them money. Customers who received a reusable bag were also invited to make an online ‘pledge’ to keep on reusing their bag, and be in with a chance of receiving a free North London Food Lovers’ cookbook.
By the end of the project, a total of 2,750 plastic bags were given away and _ residents pledged to keep using their bags. A survey of both the participating businesses, and residents who made a pledge also found:
- 76% of retailers said that they had seen customers who had been given a bag return to their store, using it.
- 100% of retailers said that they had made financial savings during the project period as a result of giving out fewer plastic bags.
- 100% of customers said that they now use their new reusable bag on a regular basis.
- 79% of customers said that they had used less single-use plastic bags as a result of receiving their new reusable bag.
Waste less and save more
Using a reusable bag is just one of the many ways that you can waste less and save more money. For more information on the small changes you can make at home and elsewhere check out our Waste Less, Save More household guide.