Wednesday, 19 December 2007


This time next week it will be Boxing Day - all over for another year. Right now we are in the danger zone and the safest thing to do with your credit card is hide it in a sock in the bottom of a drawer. The big people who love you will still love you next week if you don't buy them extravagant gifts and little children need love more than stuff. REMEMBER to carry your bag and recycle all the wrapping paper and keep the cards for crafty re-sending next year.
Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

Friday, 7 December 2007

REMEMBER to carry-a-bag

North London.
Three weeks to Christmas.
Nancy remembers to carry-a-bag.

It's so easy and it makes you happy.
Spread the word.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


The REMEMBER to carry-a-bag campaign has hit the streets of New York - here we go!

Monday, 3 December 2007


This is the month when everyone goes shopping AND it would wonderful if
everyone REMEMBERED to carry-a-bag?
How to make this happen?
REMEMBERING is a state of mind and we all need to re-train ourselves. We leave the house and 99% of the time we remember to carry our KEYS our PHONES and our why not add a bag to the list?
Money - check
Phone - check
Bag - check

And that's all it takes to do your bit to help stop this lovely world being contaminated with plastic bags.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Plastic Bags are so last year

The papers and the TV are full of plastic bag news stories - shall we ban them completely? Too difficult to enforce. No, let's charge for them! And then give some of the money to an environmental charity - that will get us loads of positive environmental publicity and who knows, maybe we can take the credit for saving the planet as well. Forgive the cynicism but it seems to me that the supermarket's have found that the easiest way to get their brands on TV (especially the BBC) is to announce a new plastic bag initiative - it's so easy and really far more cost effective than advertising.
I am hoping that soon everyone will say no to plastic bags and remember to carry their own re-usable bags when they go shopping. I am truly hoping that will happen.
Where people do make the change you see such a wonderful variety of shopping bags. Colourful bags, bags with slogans, floral bags, striped, spotted or checked bags over shoulders or held in hands but most importantly bags with personality.
Vive la difference!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007


I have never seen this many pumpkins in England before - and all you doubters who groan about American imported money-spinning customs should go out and get a
pumpkin right now. Carving a pumpkin is easy and tremendously satisfying - you could even use a drill to make the holes if you fear the knife. The most important thing is not to waste the food: First the yummy seeds - scoop them out and toast them in the oven they are really delicious. Now the flesh and I promise you will love this...
Pumpkin Risotto. Find a risotto recipe and follow all the instructions but about halfway through add a handful or two of cubed pumpkin and cook in the usual risotto way. The cubes should keep their shape and even you pumpkin-doubters will want to eat this again next week.
See ...this is how not to waste pumpkin.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Exhibition in the North East

Calling anyone in the North East who is interested in Designers using Recycling Materials should hot foot it down to Newcastle City Centre to see the CONTAINS exhibition which takes place over 9 days from 19th to 28th October. The works will be displayed in a series of shipping containers and you will be able to inspect, examine, touch, feel and marvel at the 100 innovative minds behind the designs. Carry-a-Bag is represented by two reversible bags and extremely proud to be selected.

Monday, 8 October 2007


I read a small piece in the weekend papers that made my blood boil.
This is true....
You know how tough it must be when you're throwing a party for all your tame celebs during Milan Fashion Week? The paparazzi swarm all over the place trying to snap pics of who is attending your event and its hard to get any peace. Well, here's the latest idea that gets you the privacy you crave has been embraced by several designers including Jade Jagger, who should know better. YOU HIRE A PLANE FOR YOUR PARTY! All your publicity shy friends and customers hop on board and take to the skies where you serve them Krug and nibbles leaving the poor old snappers stuck at the airport waiting for you to come back down to earth.
Does that not just take the biscuit? I'm guessing that if they considered the environmental impact it wouldn't have stopped them, they would have simply asked a carbon off-set company to get them some trees.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007


When I started making my bags about two years ago I had to spend a lot of time explaining the simple idea "you go to the shops with a bag instead of going empty handed." It was just what older people had always done before the world was flooded with plastic carriers.
How things have changed in those two years. Take a look at people in the queue at any supermarket checkout now and you will find there is someone or maybe even several people who have brought their own bags to the store. Of course there are still trolleys stacked with plastic bags but the shops have all produced re-usables and in some cases provide bag recycling bins or biodegradable plastic bags - not sure that I believe in those though. Most things biodegrade eventually but that doesn't mean we can wait for it to happen.
Generally though attitudes have changed and that is A GOOD THING.

Monday, 24 September 2007

reduce your refuse

Words are funny.
Refuse (verb) decline; reject; spurn
Refuse (noun) garbage; rubbish; landfill; waste and so on.
You get the picture.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

keeping in touch

Communicating is a full-time job. Get up switch on the computer; check the email; check the mobile messages; get the post; answer the landline; read a text; talk on the mobile; write my blog; send a text - oh yes and talk to my husband....and now there is Facebook. I innocently joined up and am now having to learn another new language and the protocol. Is it rude not to respond when someone writes on your wall and should I respond when poked? How many photos of one event should be put up and how long after an event can you add a very flattering pic of yourself? So much to learn and so little time. And that's the problem. Earlier this week our power was due to be cut off for 5 hours for some urgent work to be done on something electrical. The official letter gave us lists of instructions on how to cope - turn the freezer up, leave one light on; back-up your files etc. The liberating prospect of not having any way of communicating was quite intoxicating!(apart from the mobile of course).
In the event they didn't turn it off after-all. I felt mugged.
Life at carry-a-bag carries on happily. I search for fabric all the time never wanting to pass a charity shop or car boot sale just in case the pattern of my dreams is waiting there for me. I pick up all sorts of other stuff along the way (too good a bargain to ignore)then listen to the radio while sewing or cutting out and share the occasional day with lovely Amy who comes to help me print. Somehow with all the communicating I have to do I still manage to make the bags but am seriously thinking of instigating a power-cut day of my own to remember what life was like when we weren't quite so connected.
love x

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

On this bright blue sky day...

We remember another bright blue sky day in New York.
Last night driving back from a fabulous weekend on the Isle of Wight I heard on the radio that Anita Roddick had died suddenly and soon after I passed a signpost to Chichester Hospital where she was. She was such a force for good and the one time I had direct dealings with her proved to me how genuinely caring and kind she was. I have a friend Emerald, who is a stress and emotional trauma specialist and was working with London Underground staff when the bombs went off. She told me that people were having terrible problems dealing with recurring memory of the smell underground and she wanted to give them something to divert and help them with that. I was able to get word to Anita that my friend could do with some aromatherapy help and within hours she phoned Emerald herself to talk for an hour about what would be most useful, then sent boxes of oils over for her to give out to anyone who needed them. All those things could have been done by someone else but that was not the way Anita Roddick lived her life. I am going to read all the stories I can about her in the next week and try to learn and follow her wonderful example.
Rest in Peace lovely lady.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Mid-August ALREADY

Last week we were swimming in the sea and planning to do it each day but this is England and you can't make sunny plans. The wind and rain have been lashing at the windows and the Charity Christmas card catalogues are dropping on the doormat. I wish they wouldn't be in such a hurry to move us on to the next season. Slow down it's Summer.
It has been a tremendous year for figs and I made four kilos of jam yesterday and have enough figs to make forty kilos more. I would if I were not so busy making my bags. Cutting, printing, stitching -
and everyday someone somewhere in the world opens a package and writes to say how much they love their bag. They don't have to do that and it makes me feel very lucky. And maybe next week the sun will return and I'll go back in the sea.

Thursday, 2 August 2007


I'm optimistic about this month as it began with sunshine and a dip in the sea. I know a lot of people will think me crazy for enjoying a swim in the English Channel but there is nothing quite like it for making you feel alive and zingy. Then to sit with your back resting on a warm sea wall watching the late afternoon sun shining golden on beach while the salty water dries on your skin.
Lovley! Yesterday evening groups of people were lighting barbecues and opening bottles of wine and to think only a week before the storms were raging. An on the subject of outdoor cooking -
last week I read that we must not use disposable barbecues as they are very bad environmental news - so it's a bucket and some local charcoal from now on - okay?
I was actually staggered to read the numbers of disposables sold each week in the summer and its the same old story - everyone says they are just using the one so it can't make too much impact but it does.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Ditch the cynicism

Driving my old car with only LW/MW radio I get to listen to all sorts of things and heard a program of pundits talking about planet saving matters. One female journalist was scathing about the lack of detailed knowledge amongst the young. She ridiculed the wearing of white bands against poverty or marching together against a war as "feelgood" actions. Making people feel they have done their bit when all they have done is spend a pound or take a stroll. But it seems to me that standing up to be counted is an important thing - add your name to those online petitions, buy a wristband, click on that button each day to fund mammograms, run that Race for Life and Carry a Bag. If it makes you feel good then enjoy the feeling. We are more likely to tackle the bigger issues if we start by wanting to do something than waiting to know everything before we begin.

Friday, 20 July 2007

You know what its like when you find something that's really good and you tell everyone and suddenly it doesn't feel very much like your 'find' anymore. At the risk of that happening I have to say that Latitude Festival in Suffolk is really fantastic. Stunning site, such a broad spectrum of entertainment and absolutely nothing to complain about - well, apart from the 'nice' family camping next to us who let their little darling do his violin practice at 8.30am. It was so nice there I stopped worrying about the planet - it looked in pretty good shape from there.
Then on Wednesday I saw a double page spread of photographs showing the ecological impact of the Chinese boom with it's massive coal consumption on the rivers, the cities and land and people's health. Since then I've reading about the pitiful wages paid to textile workers in Bangladesh to enable us to buy cheap clothes, and that not buying them means that people who earn a little now will earn nothing at all. Should organic food be airfreighted from Kenya where growing it provides a living for so many farmers - or should we just buy local? So many theories, so many arguments, so many issues, so much to worry about.
I wonder whether too much information can damage your health.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Ethical List

The New Consumer's Ethical list celebrates some of the great people who are helping to make the world a better place. A few surprising entries but it was ever thus - who doesn't like a surprise? I notice that Anya Hindmarch made the cut for her bag and it would be churlish of me to deny her the glory but it does lead me onto thinking about the outsourcing to China issue.
The problem the way I see it is that each 'ethical' product that is made in bulk over there - no matter how convinced you are by their working practices and pay structures - is harming the environment and also people like me who want to build a successful ethical business but can't compete with those prices. China is building new coal fired power stations at an alarming rate to process the orders streaming into their country from the West. I am not impressed with the argument that goods travel by sea to save on their carbon footprint - maybe if they came on sailing boat there might be some truth in it.
What's wrong with making things here and paying people what they are worth?

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Live Earth

Yesterday was the big earth event and the miracle of a Summer Day occurred in North London. Naturally I signed the pledge - actually I may have signed it twice in my enthusiasm to be counted. What were those scary dancers of Madonna's all about? She was fabulous of course and so were many of the others. Good telly and hopefully a whole lot more as we all rush to do the right thing and stop being so selfish. I for one will be offsetting my flea market chandelier with a dull eco-bulb in my husband's bedside reading light - ha! Only joking. I'll be turning off the stereo at the plug then spending half a day re-programming all the stations in time to switch them all off at the plug again and do the same the next morning. And that won't last so I'll have to buy a new gismo to do it for me. Must try harder.

Today's other little rant is about the thoughtless juxta-postion of advertisements alongside the tragic story of inflation and poverty in Zimbabwe in the Observer Magazine. There are two full-page ads that are incredibly insensitive. Does nobody look at the whole magazine when they put it put together - or is that an old fashioned idea?
The first Ad is for John Lewis mattresses costing thousands of pounds alongside a picture of two young children asleep in the middle of a pavement because they are too poor to actually have a designated corner to sleep in. Turn over and we see hands holding wads of inflation devalued notes that amount to the £80 a month wage earned by a 'lucky' employed person set against the glossy ad of a couple enjoying the golf course of their luxury retirement second home in sunny Spain. Carbon footprint wise I imagine a second home in Spain off-sets your winter fuel consumption in the UK and so it goes.
My own pledge is to continue to remember to carry a bag and turn out the lights and to really try to do all the other things too.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007


The 4th of July is American Independence Day.
This week I have been very conscious of the warmth and spontaneity of Americans.
Carry-a-bag was featured on a blog called OhJoy in the States and I have had loads of enquiries about whether bags could be sent over. Each and every one carried with it a compliment of some sort. In the States emails are more like short conversations than our mini-letters - so they cut to the chase and most read along the lines of "Can you post to the US? You are so clever and I LOVE your bags! " or " Your bags are GORGEOUS - what is the shipping to California"
Well, it works for me. I LOVE Americans.
I made this little bag today with a message for us all :
time to save the planet dudes.
Say no to plastic bags and

remember to carry a bag.
Pass the message on.

Happy 4th of July.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Sorry to anyone who tried to reach me at Carry-a-bag this weekend - I absconded to Glastonbury for a weekend of rain, mud and music. The Guardian were giving away a bag with every newspaper bought - I suspect it was made in China but will have to check on that so don't quote me yet. And there were many variations of re-usable shopping bags on show - most of them mud splattered and very wet. One huge contradiction is that actually plastic is the only way to go bag-wise if you have to keep things dry - I know this because my mobile died of exposure. Spotted my time to save the planet dudes bag in the backstage hospitality area - looking good! Best music I saw? Amy Winehouse on Jazz World; Mark Ronson with a band; The Gossip, and The Marley Brothers singing when the only bit of hot sun was briefly shining. And best of all watching The Killers with Roxy from the side of the Pyramid Stage- that was as good as it gets.

Monday, 11 June 2007


The Observer Magazine's Ethical Issue yesterday was chokka with good stuff and most thrilling for me was the fashion spread across pages 50 and 51. There was my TIME TO SAVE THE PLANET DUDES bag with the Superman lining not once but twice - being reversible they had used it both ways. Orders have poured in and the Superman circa 1978 bedding and curtains that I have been searching out and stockpiling will soon be used up. Never mind I have another plan using vintage STAR WARS duvet covers for linings - Time to save the Galaxy dude's!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Where did that week go?

Bags have been in the news this week and soon there will be nobody left who has not heard that it is a really silly idea to fill your trolley with supermarket plastic bags every time you shop.
One very sweet and friendly idea that made it to BBC Breakfast news was a group who meet in pods - like dolphins - and sew bags from old clothes which they offer to swap with shoppers who exit the supermarket with plastic bags. The reaction was mixed with some shoppers loving it and others running away - the TV camera may have had something to do with it.
I had an advance email warning from the Anya Hindmarch website that they are about to launch her bag worldwide - cue more hysteria. Then a hilarious antidote came by way of Goodone whose limited edition rude-sloganized Organic cotton bags cost £8. Check them out.
Reader, I bought one.
Carryabag had a crazy week of contrasts with an enquiry coming in from New York for 600 bags for a special event (that I couldn't manage in the time); two one-off requests from loyal customers who wanted new bags printed in their favorite colours and the very nice job of designing yoga mat bags for my friend's new health centre and little bags for another friends hand-made organic soaps. ( The week flew by.
Selvedge magazine are running two pictures and the nicest paragraph anyone has ever written about my bags in the July/August issue and the sun is back shining in the bright blue sky.
I am not sure what has happened in Naples this week but in Italy my sister encountered two snakes on an island in the Northern Lakes. How did they get there?

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Sunday papers make me worry.

Went shopping in East Dulwich's street market yesterday and hardly spotted one plastic carrier bag. Seems like the lovely people of East Dulwich have understood the issue, now for the rest of the world.....
I have just read a report on the Naples garbage nightmare - and nightmare really isn't overstating the case. With 30,000 tons of rubbish rotting in the streets residents decided that setting fire to it - better to smell the smoke that the rot. Fires inevitably burned more than just the rubbish.
The authorities have opened some emergency dumps and are moving rubbish to a new incineration plant due to open later in the year.
The story has so many lessons for the rest of us - choose from local government corruption, tourism cover-ups, fly-tipping, hazardous incinerator fumes. Naples had the worst record for recycling in Italy.
Watch to see whether the Neopolitans change their ways and better still whether the story gets enough publicity to stop other cities going the same way.

Friday, 25 May 2007

May 25th

It is important to take some time to look around and enjoy the day. This morning I was up very early and went for a long walk on the beach at Camber Sands with a friend. The tide was far out and the rippled sand we were walking on was actually the sea bed. What a perfect start to a Friday - the beach was clean and I felt very lucky. Not like the people of Naples. I saw on the news that their landfill sites are full and no garbage has been collected for a while now. It is piled high all along the sides of the roads, smelly and rotting in the hot sun. People are staying indoors to avoid the stench. This happened quite fast and I wonder what they going to do now. This bit of footage should be shown to every doubter who can't be bothered to recycle.
LandFILL will become LandFULL unless everyone takes this seriously.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Hello World

This is my first blog and there is so much to say its a bit like leaping into a fast flowing river without knowing where the hidden hazards are. Well - here goes.
Carry-a-bag started about two and a half years ago and the website has been up and running for a year now. In that time I have made hundreds of bags and it makes me happy to think that each one goes out onto the street to spread the message. I aim to make them pretty for the girls and
a bit cool for the boys - you have to want to take your bag to the shops.
People ask if I get bored with all this sewing and printing but honestly I don't - repetitive tasks can liberate your thoughts.


About Me

My photo
Hastings, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Carry-a-bag began about five ago when I was fuming about plastic carrier bags stuck in trees, washed up on the beach and generally messing up the planet. It began as a little idea but one morning I woke up thinking "don't take a carrier bag just remember to carry a bag. And now I make bags all the time.


Take it shopping or digging...

September 11th 2007

September 11th 2007
Blue sky day


time to save the planet dudes + me in the hat