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    The deal is(n’t) in the bag: 5 alternatives to the single use plastic carrier


    – July 3rd 2017 –

    From 1 September 2017, single use plastic carrier bags will be banned in the Brussels-Capital Region. This change requires a certain degree of organisation, both for businesses and their customers. But let’s not get carried away: there are plenty of alternatives…

    The trolley: let the good times roll!

    A little bulky perhaps, but the trolley is, without a doubt, the number one alternative to plastic bags, in terms of efficiency. Whether you pull it or push it, a trolley offers the great advantage of allowing you to carry a maximum of shopping with a minimum of effort. And all without straining your back.

    The options are endless: green or spotty, plastic or fabric, it will add flair to your shop, whether on two, 4, or even 6 wheels. Certain deluxe “all terrain” models even let you tackle stairs.

    Who said trolleys are only for old people?

    Shopkeeper tip : 

    Using a trolley means that your customer will organise their shop in a certain way; they will buy oranges and melons before strawberries, so it doesn’t all end up as jam. Take care to organise the customer’s trolley this way when they come to the till.

    Reusable bags: your bag your style

    Whether flexible or rigid, fabric or wicker, reusable bags will become our most faithful companion from September 2017. In this category you have a choice: there are the sturdy, conventional reusable bags sold by the supermarkets. There are the nylon bags, shaped like carrots or pugs. And then, for a more on trend look, there’s the tote bag.

    Originally used by British postmen who gave it the name “Tote” meaning “to carry”, this fabric bag, easily recognised by its large handles made of the same material, has become a stylish go-to. Light, environmentally friendly, cheap, practical, easy to carry and often sporting a funny quote; forward-thinking brands have chosen to made them part of our collective conscience, through large scale distribution of an 100% unbleached cotton version.

    Carried over one shoulder or by hand, the tote bag has been unconditionally adopted by the younger generation, acting as a blank canvas to give their imagination free rein.

    Shopkeeper tip:

    The tote bag is an excellent advertising medium. If you can afford to do so, invest in producing personalised bags for your business. Come up with an attractive design which fits your brand identity, and give them away to customers or sell them at a low price, in order to promote your business while offering the customer a container.

    “Cabas” and net bags: just like old times

    From the Old French “cabar”, or Arabic “qafas”, the French word “cabas” means “basket”. Whether made from woven straw or wicker, it takes the form of a large, supple, flattish basket. Very popular with women (and men to a lesser extent), it is used both as a handbag – à la Jane Birkin – and a shopping bag. In recent years, its style has evolved dramatically. Embellished with leather, in a multitude of colours and patterns, it has become a true fashion accessory.

    Similarly, since fashion is cyclical, we must also mention the net shopping bag. These were widely used before the advent of the plastic bag. As the name suggests, it takes the form of a light net, compact when empty but extremely stretchy. Today, it is enjoying a comeback thanks to its vintage charm, and also because it is very practical.

    Shopkeeper tip: 

    If it suits your store concept, offer these types of products in your shop, in a display close to your counter.

    Paper or newspaper bag

    Widely used in organic grocers, paper bags are mainly composed of a renewable material, wood. This makes them completely biodegradable.

    While “kraft” paper gives customers a good impression, as they associate it with “organic”, it does have some drawbacks: low durability (especially when wet), and a limited life, as well as a higher price. However, it is ideal for haberdashery products, books, or dry foodstuffs.

    Used in the past for its food preservation properties, and as a wrapping material by shopkeepers, newsprint gradually disappeared with the introduction of plastic from the 1960s. Will the ban mean a big comeback?

    Shopekeeper tip: 

    While it can offer a quick solution for your customers, avoid using newsprint for textiles (the ink can stain), or for food (chemical inks can be toxic).  

    The rucksack, the messenger bag, the satchel…

    All of these containers have straps, allowing you to keep your hands free. Highly practical, they are easily adjusted to all figures. From the style perspective, they can boast an appeal to all ages and tastes: sporty, business, cool, student, hiker, etc.

    The cupboards of Brussels are brimming with rucksacks and old satchels just begging for a new lease of life. Maybe its time for that big wardrobe reorganisation you’ve been putting off for so long?

    With everyone set to benefit, there’s nothing stopping you on your journey towards zero plastic!

    July 3, 2017
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