The feeds of many a timeline were flooded with hashtag: #plasticbags as news got out that we’ll all have to pay 5p a plastic bag when doing our shopping.

We fully support the initiative here at Antidote. Trying to get people to use less plastic bags is something dear to our heart.

Our ‘I am Not a Plastic bag’ tote bag we designed a few years ago for “We Are What We Do” (now renamed “Shift”) highlighted the damaging effects of plastic bag usage and challenged buyers to change their shopping habits.

However, rather than tell women to stop using plastic bags, we created a fashionable alternative. We think something like this again could go hand-in-hand with the latest government move. A dual nudge approach.

Our approach was born out of a philosophy of “smuggling goodness” and getting people to do things as an incidental effect, rather than an order to do something. Working with Anya Hindmarsh, we created a desirable piece of arm-candy that doubled as advertising but could also be leveraged in PR, celebrity seeding and social buzz. We made declining plastic bags cool.

When the bags went on sale they generated kilometre long queues of buyers in the UK, USA, Japan and sold out in under 4 hours. They generated a black market on eBay and generated acres of free PR and headline TV news.

The impact was dramatic. Using plastic bags became unfashionable and shops, shoppers and even whole towns around the nation opted for tote bags. Plastic bag use in the UK dropped by 3.9bn to 6.1bn in 2010. Sainsbury’s, one of the campaigns partners, cut the number of bags they gave away by 58% in the 2 years following the campaign, giving out 312m fewer bags.

Maybe it’s time to recycle this campaign and give this whole movement another nudge? If you’re interested drop an email to

Categories: advertising, ambition, blog post, PR, retail, social media,
Tags: Advertising, ambition, Antidote, plastic bags, Shift, social,