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Bring you own...bag! BYOB makes its way into fashion

BYOB concept is a great way to reduce plastic waste and promote sustainability.

BYOB, from Bring Your Own Bottle to Bring Your Own Bag

We are sure you have already heard about BYOB, Bring Your Own Bottle. This acronym refers to parties or restaurants and other business asking customers to bring their own alcoholics, since they are not providing them. Often, customers receive a discount or incentives in exchange. But BYOB refers also to shops where customers can fill their own bottles up with the drink of their choice, and pay only for what they put in the bottle.

This initiative reduces plastic waste and helps businesses and people save money on packaging and new containers. It's easy to see why BYOB has become such a popular concept and why it is spreading outside the beverage industry. In fact, with more people and companies becoming aware of the environmental impact of single-use plastics, this could be an important step toward being more sustainable. 

The fashion industry has taken note of BYOB and created its own version: Bring Your Own Bag. Many shops now encourage customers to bring their own fabric bags instead of using the single-use plastic bags provided by the shop. The aim is to reduce the reliance on single-use plastics which are becoming increasingly harmful for both wildlife and our environment. Unlike plastic bags, fabric bags can be reused over and over again. 

Why is it important to abandon single-use plastic bags?

It is easy to say that plastic pollutes, but much more difficult is to understand the impact of a small single-use plastic bag we receive during our shopping time.  

According to Beyond the Bag, a collaboration between retail sectors to find sustainable and convenient alternatives to disposable shopping bags:

  • In the US alone, 100 billion single-use plastic bags are used each year;
  • Plastic bags are among the top 10 beach litter items;
  • The average lifespan of a plastic bag exceeds 1000 years;
  • The average use of a plastic bag is about 12 minutes.

The fashion industry is already heavily criticised for its massive production of textile waste, with 92 million tonnes of garments ending up in landfills every year. To this we must also add packaging and, of course, shopping bags. The public pressure for fashion brands to reduce their ecological footprint is strong and many have already taken action, especially with regard to the sourcing of raw materials or production processes. The Bring Your Own Bag initiative is certainly something more in terms of sustainability, involving not only manufacturers but also retailers.

no more plastic bag

What are the benefits of BYOB to fashion?

Abandoning disposable plastic bags is good for the environment, but BYOB brings other benefits:

  • Educates people about more sustainable shopping habits;
  • Helps customers and businesses save money on the packaging;
  • Helps fashion companies and retailers deal with plastic bans that some governments have established;
  • BYOB bags can be produced from recycled materials, further contributing to the reduction of waste and pollution;
  • BYOB bags encourage customers to purchase more items (in grocery shops but, we think, even in other shops) 

Is Bring Your Own Bag applicable to e-commerce?

In a way, yes, it is. As online shopping increases, so does the amount of packaging and single-use plastic used to wrap items and deliver them safely to customers' homes.

Several e-commerce companies have realised the problem and found solutions. One of these is to use reusable packages that customers can send back once they have received their order.

According to the multinational retailer Marks & Spencer, which is choosing BYOB for its online orders, the initiative will save 10 million units of plastic per year.

How can fashion stores incentivise customers to choose BYOB?

Here are some ideas:

  • Discounts or special offers for customers who bring their own bags;
  • Create your own fabric bag collection to present to customers in shops. The bags should have attractive designs and could be presented as collectables so that customers buy more than one;
  • Give away a branded fabric bag for every purchase over a certain amount;
  • Organise BYOB campaigns or awareness days where customers can receive free fabric bags with every purchase;
  • Encourage consumers to use their own bags through social media engagement campaigns. For example, create photo contests where customers show themselves using woven bags. In this way, fashion stores also gain customer engagement and User Generated Content.
  • Include the purchase of a fabric bag or the use of one's own bag in the actions that earn points for a digital loyalty programme.
  • Donate a percentage of the proceeds from fabric bags to an environmental cause. This will also increase customer engagement and loyalty, as well as creating more positive PR for the brand.
  • Turning the bag into a connected product, through which customers can access information on your brand's sustainability projects, be an active participant in other initiatives, but also discover offers, news and other special content that make their customer experience more satisfying.

By implementing these initiatives, fashion stores can effectively motivate customers to choose BYOB instead of single-use plastic bags. Doing so can help reduce fashion’s ecological footprint and create a more sustainable future for the industry. Ultimately, it is up to us to decide what kind of world we want to live in and contribute to that change where we can. Choosing a reusable bag when shopping is one small way we can contribute towards protecting our planet from further damage caused by plastic waste.

14 Apr 2023

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