The ever-evolving shopping bag.

Do you remember some years ago when the first big push came for everyone to abandon plastic shopping bags at the supermarket checkout?  I do.

green-bagsHere in Australia the retailers stepped up and produced their own version of a re-usable shopping bag that went everywhere with you, was fully washable and had a long lifespan.  I’m sure we all have them.  The Green Bag was born!!

Many a time I’ve been off to some creative workshop or exhibition and have seen these bags being toted around by others surrounding me.  I mean, how can you miss them, they’re generally bright green after all?  However practical they are they aren’t the most attractive of accessories, but does that matter?

black-bagsSomeone other than I obviously thought the Green Bag was a little ‘visual’, shall we say, and so the Black Bag was next off the production line.  Even with company branding it feels less obtrusive than the previous ones.  Not bad.

Cloth-bagsAfter this came the cloth bags.  A range of ecru eco-friendly looking bags produced from jute, canvas, calico, hessian and the like.  By this time they were looking much more presentable when using them for other things than standard grocery shopping.

The next bag to arrive at my house was the silk shopping bag.  Many of these are made from recycled parachute silk and so come in bright colours, and are very inexpensive.  In addition, they fold up into a tiny square and fit in your handbag, so no more lugging around big bags all the time.  What a bonus, a re-usable bag that weighs nothing, stores easily and looks quite fashionable.

silk-bagsI love the striped ones above but haven’t seen them here and the picture comes from a site in India.  Well, if they are on the net I’m sure someone somewhere must be able to access them.  There is one downside to these bags: they don’t have a formal rectangular shape and a semi-stiff base which is preferable when buying groceries.  Cartons of milk, packets of food and small boxed items pack so much more efficiently into a rectangular bag with a decent width gusset.

Yesterday I spied my latest find.  A sturdy canvas, high-sided bag with a gusset, sized to fit neatly into a shopping trolley, washable and attractive.  I was initially drawn to the vibrant colour mixes and didn’t spot the lovely printing until I pulled them off the very jumbled hanger.  That was when I first encountered the large-scale, stylised, partial prints adorning both the front and back of each bag.

recycled-bagsAs I’ve discussed many times on this learning log, when I print, stitch or create I have a tendency to focus on a lot of detail which can, at times, be painstaking and not always successful.  Despite notices on my work board to myself about keeping imagery bold, simple and uncluttered it’s not something I’ve managed so far.  A personality thing I expect.

These bags have reminded me of that ‘simplification’ ethos and how effective large block-style prints can be.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be using them for shopping at all but pinning them up on my board so I keep this fact in mind.  Obviously my written guideline notices don’t penetrate my brain but I think these would.

So now I have my foldable silk bag permanently stowed in my handbag and I’ll put these more shaped bags in the car for whenever I’m going to the supermarket.  The best of both worlds and always stylish.

Note: I should get out my old ecru canvas bags and print them!!!!

One possible slightly unsavoury aspect to all these bags is that they are very cheap.  I suspect that means some poor people may be being exploited in India, Africa or Asia to satisfy our needs.  I buy Fairtrade when I can, and have a lovely big handbag from them, but it’s not always possible (bought my elephant dung paper there though!).

Photos taken from general google searches.
Printed canvas bag photo by myself.


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
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