I'm Not an Ethical Plastic Bag

A few months ago Treehugger reported on the £5 ethical designer carrier bag, made by high fashionista Anya Hindmarch. It came with all the best intentions: launched by Sainsbury's supermarket, profits going to an environmental group, made of unbleached cotton. First it went on sale at a boutique, Keira Knightly was photographed with one, it was distributed as a goodie at chic Oscar parties and it sold out immediately, with bags then being flogged on ebay for over £225. On Wednesday another 20,000 were released at 450 supermarkets across the country. Women stood in line from 2 a.m. onwards to get their hands on this must-have accessory which was all gone by 9 a.m. It is questionable whether everyone in the queue was a keen environmentalist, eager to recycle, but hey--one step at a time. An Anya Hindmarch spokeswoman said she was "completely overwhelmed" by the response and that she hoped "that we have achieved our aim, which was to use our influence in a positive way - to make people think about what they're doing and be more responsible." There is one little problem. Yesterday the Evening Standard revealed that the so-called green carriers were made in China, using cheap labour. And the bag was neither organic nor fair trade. Never mind the air miles. Handbags at dawn: today Sainsbury's denies any duplicity, insisting that it had never claimed that the bag was Fairtrade or organic. It says that it was made in a factory that pays double the minimum wage and complies with Chinese labour law. Hindmarch says that it was shipped by sea. This is an embarrassment for the supermarket which has been making extravagant claims about its green credentials. Activists said that it was bordering on hypocritical and that the whole high-profile episode tarnished Sainsbury's image. Coming to the U.S. on June 20--get in line? :: Evening Standard

Tags: Ethical | London | Recycling

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