I Am A Plastic Bag
“Despite the impact of our 2007 I’m Not A Plastic Bag project, the problem of single use plastic is far from solved. The mission has changed however, from ‘awareness’ of the problem to ‘circularity’ of materials, something we’ve spent the last two years working on with the I Am A Plastic Bag project.”
In 2007 we launched ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’ to raise awareness of how much single use plastic goes to landfill. Despite the impact the project made the problem is far from over and the mission has changed from ‘awareness’ to ‘circularity’, something we’ve spent the last two years working on with I Am A Plastic Bag.
There are 8 billion tonnes of plastic on the planet but when you throw a piece away, there is no away. In a small step towards reusing what we already have, we’ve created the I Am A Plastic Bag collection. Each bag is made from an innovative new cotton canvas-feel fabric that’s created from 32 half litre recycled plastic bottles. The fabric is then coated with recycled windscreens. Each piece is designed to never be thrown away.
In a small step towards reusing the plastic we already have, we’ve created the I Am A Plastic Bag collection. Each bag is made from an innovative cotton canvas-feel fabric that’s created from used plastic bottles and coated with recycled windscreens. Each piece is designed to never be thrown away.
It has taken over two years to develop the I Am A Plastic Bag collection, but the journey started over ten years ago when we launched the collection’s predecessor: I’m Not A Plastic Bag.
The I’m Not A Plastic Bag tote was designed by Anya in 2007 as part of a collaborative project with Antidote and global social change movement We Are What We Do (now known as Shift). After thousands of people queued to purchase the tote from Sainsburys (80,000 on launch day), the project garnered huge press coverage globally, ignited the debate around the use of plastic bags and contributed to the eventual decision to charge for plastic bags in the UK.
The British Retail Consortium estimated that in 2006, before the I’m Not a Plastic Bag project, the UK used 10.6 billion plastic bags. In 2010, after the project, his figure dropped to 6.1 billion. Sainsbury’s cut the number of bags they gave away by 58% in the 2 years that followed the campaign, giving out 312 million fewer bags in 2009 than in 2007 and saving 13,200 tonnes of virgin plastic over two years.
We’re proud to have been awarded the Butterfly Mark from Positive Luxury.
This is a symbol of trust earned by brands that have adopted sustainability as a business strategy.
How it’s Done
- The woven fabric used to make I Am A Plastic Bag is woven from a yarn created from plastic bottles, an example of modern craftsmanship.
- The plastic bottles are first sorted, shredded, washed and then turned into pellets. These pellets are melted into fibres that are then spun and woven to create the fabric.
- To create a weather-resistant durable finish, we then coat the fabric in recycled PVB, a product which is extracted from old car windshields. This is the first time this has been done.
- We initially considered using vegan or recycled leather for the trims, but after much research and advice we came to the conclusion that responsibly-sourced leather was the best material as the alternatives we found contain high-levels of polyurethane.
- Our leather is a by-product of the meat industry and is sourced from a tannery in Northern Italy who have been gold-rated by The Leather Working Group, and offer tractability of the European skins, and assurances that the leather hasn’t contributed to deforestation.
- The hardware is made from stainless steel and gold-coated using PVD, a technique that does not create chemical waste (unlike electro-plating)
After two years of research, the fabric and coating are created in Taiwan, who are world leaders in recycling and innovation. We then construct the bags in our workshops in Florence, Italy to maintain the same craftsmanship as the rest of the collection as we want this bag to last and to be loved and never to be put into landfill.
The leather is also sourced and tanned in Italy. We are also working on creating the recycled coated plastic fabric in Italy as it would be ideal to have all components locally made. We are nearly there. As ever, innovation is -about progress not perfection.