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Thursday, 7 April 2016

Bags to Market

Last weekend was the first foray into the Grower's Market for our group who are working on (hopefully) having plastic shopping bags phased out of the market.

Whangarei Growers Market  Photo courtesy of nz farmers

We set up with signs at both ends of the market explaining our aim, alongside which we gave away reusable shopping bags. The bags were a combination of recycled, handmade and new ones, donated by the local council, with "Whangarei, Love It Here" printed on them.
The market was thronging with people. We were curious to know what the response to us would be. 
Whangarei Growers  Market   photo courtesy of farmers

I was heartened to notice that probably 70%+ of people brought their own bags anyway. Remaining people were mostly pleased to be offered a bag. We did ask for a koha (donation), or that people return the bags next time when they have their own. We received a few donations, which are being used to fund more bags.
We ran out of bags far too quickly, so this week I have been trying to source more and make more. 
To speed up the construction process, I decided webbing handles were the way to go, so have been buying webbing belts from the charity shops to cut up.

Bags made with the donated material from the curtain shop

Two things we noticed were that people still ended up with plastic bags - even though they had a market bag, due to stallholders automatically putting items into bags before handing them over, and people buying more than their one bag could hold.

We have work to do, changing peoples' habits. It will be interesting to see how well we fare. We plan to do this every week for several months yet before we can hopefully ask stall holders to stop using plastic bags altogether.


  1. Bravo and good on you!!!
    We have lots of markets in my area, and a lot of people bring their own, but one market in particular at a town called Lennox Head is completely plastic bag free, both customers and stall holders. I'm not sure who was behind the plastic free move, but it stemmed from the fact that the market is held along the edge of a Lake, and they wanted to minimise potential pollution of the lake. Great move in my opinion!


    1. Wow, I would love to know how they achieved that. I would love to visit the Lennox Head Market. There are other markets around the world that are plastic free - it can be done. Most of our opposition appears to be from the market stallholders - because it is convenient for them and they can't see around it.

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  3. Good for you! Now, to educate the stall owners who perhaps could ask, did you bring a bag, before handing out plastic ones. I am surprised at how many stall owners at the market here practically insist I take a plastic bag when I hand them my cloth one. There is one lady who sells tortillas and I can't ever get away without a plastic bag, when the tortilla are already wrapped in a paper bundle. I have to take them out of the plastic and hand it back to her and every time she acts affronted. Part of it may be that we don't speak the same language.

    1. Yes Cynthia, it is frustrating having people automatically plastic bag everything. Language is not an issue here and it still happens. One of our team actually has a market stall himself, so we have a foot in the door there. I think we'll ask the stall holders generally to hold back on the bags via the market leader and see if that works!

  4. Good effort! I belong to a waste reduction group and part of our work is around plastic bags - getting people to ditch them in favour of reusables. I am going to forward this to my colleague as we may do something similar.

    1. Hi, thanks for your interest. I couldn't tell from your profile where you are from, but if you in New Zealand and want to email me (address in my contact details), I can tell you which companies I order bags from. If you haven't already seen it, I have a fairly recent updated post about where we are at with progress.Good on you, and all the best with your waste reduction group.


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