Returning home laden with plastic bags was once the hallmark of a successful shopping trip, but that is no longer the case. In an effort to curb waste and promote sustainability, increasing numbers of major fashion brands are eliminating the single-use carrier bags from their stores.
This month, Canadian footwear and accessories empire Aldo Group -- whose brands include Aldo and Call It Spring -- announced that it is phasing single-use shopping bags out of its stores globally. Instead, shoppers will be able to transport their new wares back home using a shoebox made from recycled cardboard, featuring a practical rope handle that helps it to double as a bag.
Any Aldo clients who still want a bag will be able to purchase reusable eco-totes made from recycled plastic, whose net profits will be donated to Ocean-focused organizations such as The Ocean Legacy Foundation and Ocean Conservancy. Call It Spring's eco-tote sales will help to fund clean water and sanitation projects in Kenya through its ongoing partnership with the social enterprise ME to WE.
Aldo is far from alone in its outlook. In July, Japanese fashion and lifestyle brand Muji announced a new reusable bag initiative encouraging shoppers in the US to use their own bags by introducing a charge for reusable bags. Shoppers using their own bags will receive a five-cent discount on their purchase.
"In line with MUJI's longstanding philosophy of less excess, we would like to encourage our customers to bring their own reusable bags when shopping at Muji!" the brand announced on Instagram.
Spanish retail giant Inditex -- which owns Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home, and Uterqüe -- pledged last month to eliminate the use of plastic bags across its brand portfolio by the year 2020 (a benchmark already achieved by Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, and Uterqüe). And Fast Retailing, the parent company of the fashion brands Uniqlo, Theory, and Comptoir des Cotonniers, is set to switch from plastic bags to eco-friendly paper bags made using FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified paper or recycled paper this September.
Luxury brands are also increasingly on board: back in March, the British label Burberry pledged to "reduce, eliminate and transition away from problematic and unnecessary packaging" across its portfolio by the year 2025, with a focus on single-use plastics. The label began by eradicating the plastic lamination of its retail bags and stopping the use of poly bags as garment covers. Will 2019 be known as the year the plastic bag officially went out of fashion?