Season's Greetings from high Town Bag
So much happened on High Town Road in 2016.
Shops closed or changed owner, and new ones opened. The somewhat iconic Wallpaperworld and Paints sign has been modernised, Hightown Supermarket has a change of owner, and small Polish chain Vita Express opened a well stocked branch in the formerly 'Best One' store. Almost opposite is now a small Polish bakery, selling hearty dark bread and sweet pastries. Dudley Street has seen the arrival of a health food shop House of Mistry. There's a new (old) pub (the Well), The Painter's Arms has undergone refurbishment, and the re-purposed Railway Tavern seems almost ready for business as shops and a cafe. Oscar's sandwich bar has been redecorated and looks all fresh. The Dudu Bar opened, the Hat Shop closed, a little Romanian shop opened it's doors next to the hairdresser, and the Pizza place opposite the school is undergoing an overhaul as I write this. Most of these are small changes, but of course there was also the terrible accident in August, bringing so much grief to everyone affected. Fresh flowers have been marking the place where a car crashed into the TV repair shop.
As things have been changing on High Town Road, we're planning a new print run of the High Town Bag in early 2017, which is a good opportunity to check in with all new and current shopkeepers. For now, our bag is still going strong in the Royal Pharmacy.
A big thank you to everyone who's supporting sustainable and local shopping and a Merry Christmas to everyone.
High Town Bag
P.S. We're please to say High Town Bag is one of the Near Neigbours Case Studies
Some of the 30 people who've taken the High Town Bag Pledge also commented on what they'd like to buy on High Town Road. Here's, what they've said:
Is High Town ready for a deli?
Of course these are only a few responses out of the 9046 High Town residents, and admittedly, all of them High Town Bag pledge-takers, which may give them a certain eco bias, but I still think there's a case for a kind of place that sells high quality fresh bread, deli and organic products. A shop where you can stock up on freshly made pesto, almighty sourdough loaves, organic and/or locally produced fruit and veg, gluten and wheat free products, good wine, olive oil, eco cleaning stuff, eco clothing even.
Finding out what's already on offer
Admittedly, some of the products in the list above are already on sale on HTR. It may be that shoppers aren't aware of what's there, or that they don't trust the quality. There may be a case for 'trust building' and helping shopkeepers to present their goods to a wider clientele in the best possible way, so that everyone feels welcome to browse - even if goods may be labelled in another language. That's definitely something the High Town Bag project hopes to help with.
What do you think?
If you haven't commented already, or want so add something to this discussion, we'd love to hear from you - and who knows if this trend continues - maybe one day we'll have our very own High Town Deli, something a little bit like Halsey's in Hitchin, that also doubles up as a nice coffee and cake shack?
Hoorah - you may have noticed that the High Town Bag has hit the first two shops in High Town. We're now on sale at the Royal Pharmacy and the Hightown Supermarket. The bags cost £2.50, and participating shops pledge to help reduce the number of single-use carrier bags that they hand out to customers.
More shops to follow.
If you purchase your goods the 'old fashioned' way, from a cashier at a till, they'll be able to control the number of bags that they give you, and add the appropriate amount to your shopping. So that should make the single-use plastic carrier bag charge, which comes into effect on 5 October, easy to implement. But there are other ways we shop now, and I'm wondering whether supermarkets in England are prepared for the change, and what those changes that will mean for the customer.
Self check-outs - with or without single-use bags?
When's the last time you've 'self checked-out' at your local Tesco or so? Did you notice that the single-use carrier bags are free for you to take and sort your shopping into? I really wonder what supermarkets are going to do in order to charge the compulsory levy of 5p, that will come into effect on 5 October this year. Last time I looked, there was nothing in-store to inform customers of any changes.
So what will happen?
Gov.uk says retailers 'must make every effort to charge for self check-out bags'. I think that's a bit 'wishy-washy'. What's 'every effort' supposed to mean, either they do have to charge or they don't (and they do!).
Online shopping - bagless delivery or compulsory charge?
What will supermarkets do about your online shop? There's a hilarious thread about a FOI request to the National Assembly of Wales about a compulsory levy, that Sainsbury's charged customers.
I've had an email pop into my inbox, where Sainsbury's explains that they now offer bagless delivery. However, they don't explain quite how they deliver your goods if you opt for that (in returnable crates for example? Or will you have to unpack there and then? What if you're not there when the delivery arrives?).
Here's what Sainsbury's said in their email:
We wanted to let you know that we've introduced our new bagless delivery service - so if you'd prefer, you can now choose to have your online shopping delivered to your home without plastic carrier bags. There is no additional charge for having your groceries delivered without carrier bags.
Did you see the article about High Town Bag in the Luton on Sunday?
In case you missed it, here's an extract. For the full article with picture, visit High Town Bag - Luton on Sunday [opens in a new window]
One woman's mission to make High Town a greener place through bag initiativeBy LutonOnSunday | Posted: June 26, 2015
PLASTIC bags are something most of us use every day without thinking of the damage they do to the environment.
One woman is out to try and change that mentality. Konni Deppe, of Kingston Road, Luton, started a project to engage and promote local shops, along with cutting down on the area's contribution to pollution.
The idea is to create a 'High Town Bag,' sponsored by local businesses, which she hopes people will use instead of plastic ones.
She said: "In October a minimum charge of 5p for plastic bags will be introduced across the country, which big retailers will have to enforce in order to cut down on the number of bags which are dumped and left to pollute the environment.
"However, smaller shops are not bound by this and I fear people will keep using plastic bags regardless of the damage they do.
"In the long run, it will save people and businesses money as they won't have to pay out for plastic bags."
Her aim with the project is to reduce fossil fuels, cut the carbon footprint and also reduce the amount of bags sent to landfill. Aside from the obvious wider-reaching environmental benefits, it should also cut down on littering.
Konni also believes it will help to spark a debate about green issues in High Town which people will hopefully begin to become more engaged with, along with promoting the High Street as a shopping area and the 60 plus businesses which trade from the road.
She added: "Businesses will benefit as they will get their names adorned on the side of the bags.
"At the moment it's in the research and planning stage. I want to see how it goes and how shopkeepers feel about it before going on to anything bigger. Of course in the future I'm happy to expand the idea into other wards or maybe across the whole of Luton if it gets a good response."
Read more: http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/woman-s-mission-make-High-Town-greener-place-bag/story-26773587-detail/story.html#ixzz3gnvvD16k
This Saturday is High Town Festival, and we're working full steam to get our pledge postcards ready.
You'll be able to take the High Town Bag pledge and - who knows - you might even be able to get your hands on a High Town Bag prototype to take home and help you carry all your festival shopping!
You'll find us at selected stalls along High Town Road.
According to government figures, supermarkets gave out over 8 billion single-use carrier bags across the UK in 2013. That is nearly 130 bags per person. High Town ward has 9046 residents, according to 2011 Census data [PDF]. Let's assume that people in High Town use as many bags as government figures suggest, and we multiply these bags by the number of people we live in the ward, we can calculate how many plastic bags are used by local residents per year:
130 x 9046 = 1,175,980
ONE MILLION ONE HUNDRED AND SEVETY FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY PLASTIC BAGS PER YEAR IN HIGH TOWN ALONE.
If we all paid 5p each time we got one of these bags, this would add up to:
1,175,980 x £0.05 = £58,799.00
A stately sum. A lot of money, where before there was simply the convenience of shopping on a whim, unprepared, unplanned - without taking our own bags. If we all paid only 5 for each 'convenience bag', we'd end up with a lot of money that cold go into environmental projects.
21 x 9046 x £0.05 = £9498.30.
Our first High Town Bag survey is now closed. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply and to let us know their thoughts. Here a few figures for you:
We've had 33 replies within five days.
The design most favourited was number four, below:
Most people thought the wheat stalks stand for (in order of preference):
Many thanks again - we've had some great comments and ideas come through. This really helps us to start the project. Can't wait to see the prototype!
I used to teach sight singing at a school in Belsize Park, North London, and would often pop into the local stores for a quick shop afterwards. That's when I bought my trusted Belsize Bag in the small supermarket.
Let's have a closer look at this nifty shopping tool:
It's a very sturdy canvas bag, with inserted sides, that lets you fit in lots of stuff. I use it as a teaching bag, as it easily carries several A4 folders. The handle is longer than on many other of the cotton shopper bags that we've got at home. That makes it feel more like a proper shoulder bag. The logo is quite simple and minimalist. That means it is recognisable, the bag goes with all kinds of styles and it doesn't look out of place when used as a bag for say books or music, rather than just the weekly trip to the greengrocer.
Since getting settled in High Town it has been on my mind to recreate this idea locally and - with your help - I'm now working on a prototype. You can still vote for your favourite design on the voting page.
One day, ideally, I'd like the High Town Bag to be made out of the same material as the Belsize Bag, but for starters (and to get the pilot version out in time for the High Town Festival), I think we'll stick to the simple cotton shopper option. And the cotton shopper has its advantages as it's really small and fits into your handbag, whereas the canvas bag is too big to take along just in case there are unplanned purchases.
On the back, the Belsize Bag has the names of local shops. I guess these were businesses that supported the bag. It might simply be a list of all the shops on the road. I can't be sure yet, as the website has long been shut down, but I'm hoping to get in touch with the people who were involved (it may have been lead by Budgens, which is where I bought mine), to find out more about how they made it work.
How about you? Have you seen the Belsize Bag, or any other locally branded and sold bags that are out there to help reduce the use of plastic bags? Maybe we can even have a cotton shopper photo competition...? Let us know what you think, we'd love to hear from you!
This afternoon, I finally got round to firming up some ideas about the High Town Bag. After brainstorming with friends, sifting through fabrics, trying out fabric painting and logging the sowing machine out of the loft, I've come to a couple of conclusions:
Vote for your favourite design