A couple months ago, I came across an article in The Christian Science Monitor that went into great detail about Britain’s recent revolt against the plastic bag. It chronicled how concerned citizens across the pond have gone as far as encouraging small towns to ban plastic bags and as a result, large retailers have been experimenting with plastic-bag-free days and reusable totes.
Of particular interest to me was a section of the story describing a limited edition reusable cotton bag emblazoned with “I’m Not a Plastic Bag,” designed by London fashion house Anya Hindmarch. The reason it caught my attention was because my Thai sister-in-law had called me a month before, asking that I beg, borrow, or steal one of those very bags for her when they came to the US on July 20. At $10, I didn’t think it was a big deal, but then I found out how impossible they were to get.
It turns out that this bag is a major status symbol, not only in Asia, but around the globe. Sold in limited runs that didn’t come close to meeting their demand, the bags are virtually impossible to buy, unless you’re willing to shell out much higher prices (somewhere between $600-$1000) for originals that are being resold online.
All evidence points to the fact that people want to be seen as green, which is an interesting trend around the world, and not necessarily a bad thing in cases where positive change is the end result. But a trip to Anya Hindmarch’s website made me scratch my head. On the section of the site devoted to the bags, several disclaimers described why bags are so hard to get:
“Due to the unprecedented demand for I’m Not A Plastic Bag in South East Asia and our concerns for our customers safety we will be cancelling [sic] the launches at the following stores: Anya Hindmarch Beijing, On Pedder in Shanghai and On Pedder in Jakarta.”
“Please note all I’m Not A Plastic Bag bags have now sold out in the United States.”
This made me wonder why Hindmarch doesn’t simply make more of the bags (in more earth-friendly ways), allowing more people to use them, thereby reinforcing her mission to raise awareness of the message written on it. And, more importantly, if more people can actually buy and employ the bags everyday, less plastic bags will be produced that will eventually end up in our oceans… right?