Sainsbury's, in an attempt to impress on us that they've come over all green and responsible, attached itself to the collaboration between wearewhatwedo.org and designer Anya Hindmarch which created the reusable "I'm not a plastic bag". The project was based on the premise that it can be stylish and fashionable to reuse bags and avoid using plastic carrier bags.
Normally, Anya Hindmarch bags can fetch hundreds of pounds, so when the "I'm not a plastic bag" was originally released for £5.00 a bag it sold out from wearewhatwedo.org in minutes, the massive web traffic generated also crashing their servers. Many of the £5.00 bags sold ended up on ebay changing hands for hundreds of pounds.
A second release of bags today at 8.00am at large Sainsbury's stores saw queueing outside stores up and down the country. Outside their Washington Galleries store, one couple had been waiting since 1.00am to be the first for two of the store's allocation of thirty bags. By about 7.30am fifty or so people had queued outside the Washington store, when tickets were given out to the first thirty people in the queue (I was number 14) to avoid jostling when tne store opened at 8.00am.
So when the store opened the lucky thirty ticket holders queued at the service desk to hand over their £5.00 notes for their reusable bags. In retail terms, the operation was very slick and professional. In terms of the "I'm not a plastic bag" project it was a lesson in idiocy. At the service desk, Sainsbury's management had set up one member of staff taking the money, and another packing the "I'm not a plastic bag" inside - yes, you guessed - a plastic carrier bag!
I was truly astounded. All these hours later I still feel the outrage. Despite their connection with the project, Sainsbury's didn't have a fucking clue what it was all about. When I loudly pointed out the rare irony to the store manager, who was so far smugly enjoying the whole episode, he looked at me like I was talking Martian, then he quickly disappeared from the scene.
Try something new? Why don't the witless bastards at Sainsbury's try thinking? That would be new.