Design Moment: ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’, 2007

Sturdy canvas and rope bag was instant hit – the first batch of 30,000 sold out in less than two hours


By the time Anya Hindmarch’s “I’m not a plastic bag” shopping bag arrived in 2007, Ireland had already greatly limited the use of plastic bags by imposing a levy so shoppers here were well used to bringing their own cloth bags to the supermarket. But there was more than practicality to British designer Hindmarch’s bag. At the time, “We are what we do” the global environmental social change movement was very active spreading its simple message that big changes can happen when lots of people make small changes. Must-have designer handbags were then in fashion with Hindmarch one of the trend’s covetable big names. She was given the slogan and tasked with the job of sourcing and designing a bag for less than £5 which would be an appealing alternative to plastic bags. The sturdy canvas and rope bag (with her discreet knot logo) was an instant hit – the first batch of 30,000 selling out in UK shops in less than two hours. The irony of an anti-consumption product spurring mass consumption was not lost on anybody. Still, its clever design helped normalise for many the idea of bringing their own bags when food shopping.