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Plastic shopping bags

We ran a campaign from 2007 to 2008 to reduce the number of flimsy plastic bags given out by traders in Thornbury. For details of why we did this, see our first plastic bag leaflet.

Discussion at Message in the Waves film showSurvey and film show

We carried out a survey of shoppers' views in December 2007 and found almost all were in favour of reducing the number of plastic bags. 

We talked to all the shops in Thornbury and invited shopkeepers and the public to a showing of the BBC film Message in the Waves. A second leaflet was distributed to shopkeepers.

Thornbury town bagTown shopping bag

We also co-ordinated the design and production of a Thornbury shopping bag with the Chamber of Commerce and Thornbury Town Council. The bag was made in India of environment-friendly and fair traded jute, and was economical enough to retail at £2.50 each. The design for the printing was produced by students at Castle School in Thornbury with help from the designer in residence. 500 bags were bought by Thornbury Town Council and sold on at cost to local traders. The students also produced a set of posters that we reproduced and put up around the town. The school produced a banner for the campaign. 

Bag-making workshop

We held a bag-making workshop to make shopping bags to give away. We learnt Furoshuki, the Japanese way to fold shopping bags from a square of material, and Castle School students came to the workshop to colour and fold their own bags. 

Bag-making workshopBags made by Castle School student

Japanese folded bags

The Japanese have simple methods of folding a square of material to make a bag. The technique is called Furoshiki. See a video of how to make a shopping bag.


The campaign and town bag were launched in the town centre at a farmers market in May 2008. We had a plastic bag amnesty and gave away shopping bags to those who handed in plastic bags for recycling. We handed out another leaflet.

Bag launch - recycling old bags  Bag launch - Japanese bag folding

The Town Bag

Final survey

In the autumn of 2008 we talked to shopkeepers again and surveyed shoppers again. The results were published in December 2008.