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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Christmas plastic bag ban urged
"Plastic Ain't My Bag" campaign
The group wants to see the logo in every shop window
Shoppers and retailers are being encouraged to join a campaign for the UK's first plastic bag-free Christmas.

We Are What We Do, a not-for-profit group, says plastic bag carrying should be as unacceptable as wearing fur.

Shops will display logos saying "Plastic Ain't My Bag" while consumers will be encouraged to use reusable, eco-friendly bags.

The group was also the force behind designer Anya Hindmarch's sell-out "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" shopping bag.

Unfashionable

Virgin Megastores, Dermalogica beauty salons and scores of small retailers have pledged their support for the Christmas campaign and the group hopes that the official campaign launch on Thursday will bring in more retailers.

The group aims to have a "Plastic Ain't My Bag" logo in "every window in every shop in every high street in the country by Christmas".

Shops will be asked to not automatically give out plastic bags while shoppers will be asked not to take a bag unless they really need one and to reuse an old plastic bag or carry an eco-friendly shopping bag.

A plastic bag takes up to 500 years to decay in landfill. There is an alternative. It's called a shopping bag
We Are What We Do

Eugenie Harvey, co-founder of We Are What We Do, said: "Wouldn't it be great if carrying a plastic bag was as unfashionable as wearing fur this Christmas?

"There's no question that there's a heightened awareness about the environment. This campaign feeds into that and is one of the simple, practical things that everyone can do to improve the environment - every bag we take ends up in landfill and takes up to 500 years to decay.

"Unless it's impractical or your purchase is embarrassing, ask yourself whether you really need a plastic bag."

She added: "I hope people will go deeper still and buy food that does not have lots of packaging, shop locally and buy Fairtrade tea and coffee."

Reusable cotton bag
The bags are going on sale again on 20 June

The group launched in 2004 alongside the publication of a book, Change the World for a Fiver, which lists simple tips for improving people's health, community and environment.

The first tip in the book suggests declining the use of plastic bags in shops.

Throw-away bags

It says: "Every person in the country uses an average of 167 plastic bags every year. That's 10 billion bags all together. A plastic bag takes up to 500 years to decay in landfill. There is an alternative. It's called a shopping bag."

A chance meeting at a wedding between one of the group's members and Ms Hindmarch's husband led to the production of the "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" cotton shoppers, which cost 5.

Some 20,000 sold out within hours of going on sale at Sainsbury's supermarkets.

Another batch go on sale on 20 June, through a lottery of people who have already subscribed to the group's newsletter.

The price has gone up to 7.50 to cover increased production costs - although the bags have been sold on eBay recently for up to 200.

David Miliband, the environment secretary, told the BBC on Sunday that throw-away carrier bags would become a thing of the past within a few years.

He said the government had no plans to introduce a plastic bag tax but was working with supermarkets to make sure more bags were reused or recycled.


SEE ALSO
M&S to charge for shopping bags
22 May 07 |  Northern Ireland
It's in the bag, darling
25 Apr 07 |  Magazine

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