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Last Updated: Friday, 29 February 2008, 13:02 GMT
Your alternatives to the plastic bag
Anya Hindmarch's "I Am Not a Plastic Bag"

The battle lines in the war on the plastic bag have been clearly drawn. But what are the alternatives when you have a week's groceries to get home?

The 4x4 may have sparked a minor storm but it never managed to rile such big beasts as this.

Yet the plastic bag has had Gordon Brown, Marks and Spencer and the Daily Mail roaring in anger.

The prime minister's warning that he may force shops to cut down on the bags is the latest salvo.

But what else can people use to transport their groceries from the check-out to the fridge? Readers have been coming up with their preferred alternatives:


"I carry everything home in a small rucksack. Much easier to carry, better for your back and easier on the hands than a couple of plastic bags. It doesn't take much effort to get into the habit of saying 'I don't need the bag, thanks.'" Sara Batts

A trolley in the street
Don't try this at home
"It's pretty simple. Cloth bags aren't a new thing, just newly trendy, and a rucksack has always been more convenient than any of the hand-held shopping bags." Andrew

"I've long thought plastic bags are a silly way to transport shopping, they are very weak and hurt your fingers and arms - it's much easier to take a large backpack." Catherine Ford

"I'm a student, and hence have to carry my shopping to a bus and then all the way home. I take a rucksack, and reuse carrier bags." Claire


"I have refused most plastic bags and used a wicker basket for years. People often comment on it and have even asked where it was bought! Vegetables and fruit rarely get bruised and it drops perfectly into the back basket on my bike. Until recently shop assistants were quite perplexed when I refused a plastic bag and looked askance at me when I informed them I was trying to save the world single-handed!" Helen Jones

Wicker basket
Durable and easy to pack
"We have been using a shopping basket plus our rucksack for our weekly shopping for many years. After unloading our shopping, we bring our basket (and a few cotton bags) back to the car to be ready for the next shopping. We find it is far easier to load stuff in the basket than in a plastic bag." Maggie Rettenberger

"I use bags for life, wicker basket from Romania, take the trolley to the car, rucksack on my back." Norma Duke

"I like using a cloth bag and maybe a basket but the latter are too wide and annoy other people...a new design of basket would be good...deeper and less wide." Jacky Jenkins


"I use an eco bag. It's a material bag that folds up really small, so I can carry it in my handbag. Or I use a furosuki, a square piece of material that ties at each corner, Japanese style." Jude

"I have two cotton bags which I carry rolled up in my handbag. They will take enough for minor food shopping trips and most shopping in town, except for large clothes. If I do a large shop at the supermarket then I use Bags for Life but I am thinking of replacing those with cotton or hemp bags too." Tricia

I made a bag out of leftover curtain fabric

"I've been using four cotton tote bags for my shopping for the past two years now, they're brilliant. I can easily carry a weeks shopping in one hit with one on each shoulder and one in each hand." Celia

"It is possible to pick up bags and baskets made from organic (as in carbon) materials. Hemp, jute, hessian, cotton and linen bags can be found around although some are lined with plastic and wicker may be painted with non-organic paint that may contain polymers." Bob Holness

"I live in Canada and for the last year or so supermarkets such as Safeway and the Co-op have been selling sturdy, lightweight reusable bags as an alternative to plastic bags. They cost 99 cents each (less than 50p) and are very durable. I have been using mine for almost a year now. They fit more than a plastic bag, weigh about the same and when loaded are much easier to carry and never break. As a plus, they are made out of recycled materials (plastic bags in fact!)" Sue Hirst

"In our house we use an Ikea big blue bag for our weekly shop and the square canvas bags that M and S and other retailers have been selling for a while for top up shopping throughout the week. We are lucky we have a car so can carry our main shopping home but if we didn't I would probably get it delivered online." Lindsey

Tesco trolley
Will Tesco follow M&S?
"It's easy! I bought a (brand-named) re-usable nylon bag that folds down to the the size of a mobile phone yet opens up to become a large bag, strong enough to carry groceries or whatever. It clips onto my handbag in its own nifty mini-bag so I never forget to take it with me -- I've had it since Christmas and I can honestly say it is one of the most used items I have bought in years." Jacqueline Steel

"I stopped using plastic bags about four years ago when I moved to the UK from the US. A friend who had lived in Europe told me a lot of the countries were banning the plastic bag and he gave me a nylon bag that folds into a small envelope. I carry it in my handbag all the time so whenever I stop in at a shop, I already have something to use." Cheryl Brown


"I have been using collapsible boxes (purchased in the UK) for a number of years and I must get at least the amount of 2-3 plastic bags in one box. They are much easier to load into my car and they don't fall over. I now live in the US and many companies are offering reusable bags which you can purchase for about $1 each that are strong." Lorraine Bowring

"I use two plastic boxes, I put them in the shopping cart. I put frozen and perishable foods in one and other items in the other. When I get to the check-out and after the cashier has run them through her scans etc. I pack everything back into the same box. Easier to carry and easier to unpack when I get home." Molly

"For about the last 12 years I have used the robust plastic boxes that you used to get from Safeway - they are very quick and easy to pack, easy to load and unload and I reckon I must have saved nearly 4,000 carrier bags over the years I've been using them. For smaller shopping trips I use cotton bags and always keep one on my person just in case I need it. It's really not that hard to avoid using plastic bags." Libby


"I take my trusty trolley everywhere. It's better for my back, it's good for fragile/heavy/awkwardly shaped loads and I can hang extra (cloth) bags over it. I don't feel the need to drive anywhere for shopping anymore as I can even carry mineral water or 12 bottles of wine home in it." EHN

"About 15 years ago my wife and I invested in a trolley bag which is made of woven plastic with wooden stiffeners at the top. I have had to tape some splits but we still carry it in the boot and use it every time we go for a big shop." John Williams

"It's quite easy just putting the shopping in my tartan shopping trolley. It fits on the back of supermarket trolleys and is much better than staggering around with multiple plastic bags hanging from your hands! Not as easy to haul onto the luggage rack if the bus is full, but I can usually manage it." Alan Shaw

"I use a shopping trolley - have done for the past 30 years. I don't drive, don't have a car, so have to carry shopping. A trolley is easy and far less effort than lugging several bags - even if I have to catch a bus. Out of respect for my back I use a trolley for our weekly shop. Out of respect for the environment I carry a few extra bags around with me - in case I buy more than the trolley can accommodate." Sharon


A pram
Plenty of room in there...
"I made a bag out of leftover curtain fabric and with my backpack I can almost always manage my shopping. Both are easy to launder, and much stronger and more comfortable to carry than a carrier bag, as well as being able to hold a lot more." Dawn

"I am lucky enough to own a Silver Cross, coach-built pram and for the past nine months me and my son have been shopping and using the lovely spacious shopping basket to cart our shopping back in, we have recycled the pram from the 1970s and now we are trying to save by not using carrier bags unless completely necessary!" Janine Robinson

"We have a selection of eco-friendly solutions. The first is a shopping trolley which of course not only eliminates the plastic bag but also the motor car! Double brownie points for that I feel. The second option is a handful of homemade string net bags which have the advantage of being very strong and highly expandable, Finally we have three hessian bags that were donated to us by our highly 'ethical' bank." Jenny Day

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