I’m coming to you to ask for support of the High Town Bag project. Help us reduce the use of single-use plastic bags in High Town and promote High Town as a place to shop that cares about the environment.
Since the 5p fee for big retailers was introduced in 2015, an estimated 15 billion bags have been saved and bags are down from 140 to 25 per person per year. But: smaller shops, who are exempt from the current levy, still supply an estimated 3.6 billion single-use bags every year.
If everyone in High Town would stop using throw-away plastic bags, we could save more than 226,000 plastic bags per year (High Town has 9046 residents). At the moment, small shops including most shops on High Town Road are exempt, but the Government is consulting on extending it to almost all shops in early 2020.
How does the High Town Bag work?
High Town Bag offers you an easy way to sell reusable bags in your shop. You get 5 free bags to get you started. Then you buy them at cost (currently £2) and sell them for £2.50. We’ve had three print runs so far but we’ve now run out of bags. We’d like to print another lot, and we’d like to add the names of local businesses on the bag. Will you support us?
What’s in it for you?
What do we need from you?
Support of the people
High Town residents are supportive of reducing plastic bags. People know they should use their own bags, but they say they need a little help. We surveyed 126 people in High Town
You can read more about the research in the blog article about the High Town Bag survey results
We’d be keen on getting involved in other promotion and awareness ideas
Will you support us?
High Town Bag survey
With the help of Associate Professor Dr Barbara Czarnecka and Research Assistant Katherine Baxter from London South Bank University, we asked High Town residents about their views and behaviours on plastic bags, recycling, sustainability how those tie in with their sense of community.
The survey was open for three months in Summer 2018 and had 126 responses, which equals 1.39% of the population of High Town. Thank you to everyone who completed the survey.
We've summed up some of the key findings.
Plastic bags and shopping habits
Overall, this report gives some interesting findings around the High Town area specific to theviews of the residents assisting in giving a deeper understanding of the issues affecting the local community to ultimately build awareness and promote specific improvement initiatives.
You can view the full research results: London South Bank University - High Town Bag Report
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!