Urban Planning 101: Shops Give Away Bags

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The effectiveness of advertising, endorses marketing strategists’ efforts further to strengthen the sustainable distribution of their bags through unusual design, (hopefully) sustainable, waterproof materials, and the potential for re use. From global brand labels to the local baker and food store, everyone is trying to communicate his or her particular advertising message via unusual bags.

For those looking for stimulating cocktail stories, this from the history of shopping bags.

Walter H. Deubner ran a small grocery store in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was looking for a way to give his business a boost.

By Careful observation, he noticed that his customer’s purchases were limited by what they could conveniently carry. So he set about devising a way to help them buy more purchases at one time. It took him four years to develop the right solution: a prefabricated package, inexpensive, easy to use and strong enough to carry up to seventy-five pounds worth of groceries.

Damn him.

Then, in 1852, Francis Wolle and his brother invented the first paper bag in Jacobsburg PA. By 1870, the invention was enhanced and the paper bag found its way to retail, creating the first game changer. Paper bags remained the standard for carrying groceries for over 100 years, through the growth of the cities and the development of suburban grocery chains. 

The next great game changer was developed in 1975. At that time, the first plastic bags were introduced at retail, beginning with industry pioneers such as JC Penney, Sears, and Kroger. Plastic was a great solution to the challenges and opportunities of the time: Wood pulp was now expensive, oil was cheap. Plastic was considered the technology of the future! Making plastic bags required less energy, less water, the finished bags took up less space, was more durable for customers, and cost about 1/3 the cost of paper bags.

Around 2000, the world recognized that we had to do something to dispose of these durable bags which were staring to pile up in our environment and were killing our marine and wild life. We realized that over 4 billion bags are littered per year, enough to circle the earth 63 times! Infrastructure was developed for recycling bags, which had the potential to be a great solution to the bag problem. However, only about 7% of the 400 billion bags produced per year in the US alone actually make it to recycling. 

Environmentalists began lobbying their legislatures around 2005 to begin banning the use of plastic bags at retail. Over 63 communities have now embarked down this path. 

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