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Fuck you Anya Hindmarch; or why Hindmarch represents all that is wrong with ‘green consumerism’

July 27, 2007

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I hate plastic bags. Sure, I think that steps are needed to encourage people to combat unnecessary wastage of plastic bags, but that being said – Anya Hindmarch is not the saviour of the reusable bags movement.

Don’t know who Anya Hindmarch is? Lucky you.

London designer Hindmarch first paired up with British supermarket Sainsbury to come up with the highly sought after ‘I am not a plastic bag’ bag. The bag, which has since launched in several countries following UK, has turned into a fashion icon overnight.

In an interview with NYT, she says:

To create awareness you have to create scarcity by producing a limited edition. I hate the idea of making the environment trendy, but you need to make it cool and then it becomes a habit.

So it sounds as if she has a really rad environmental message, doesn’t it? (Let’s also ignore the fact that the bag isn’t made out of organic cotton, or made with fair trade.)

Thegoodelife has defended Hindmarch saying that it isn’t her fault that her bag has gained an overnight cult status.

Really? The economics is simple. By printing it in limited quantities, you artificially induce a higher demand for the product. Together with magazine and newspaper rags picking up on this ‘eco-friendly’ item, you eventually whip up a frenzy that makes people queue up for days on end, even getting into mad scruffles for it.

The idea of selling designer-made clothes and accessories at budget prices isn’t novel. Retailers Target, H&M and Topshop have been doing that for the past few seasons already, with entire collections designed by fashion industry’s bigwigs such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Luella Bartley and Kate Moss.

So why is Hindmarch’s bag so different? Limited pieces, baby.

But setting Hindmarch aside, what is more worrying is the trend that is moving towards making green consumerism ‘hip’ – which is the exact tone that Hindmarch sends out with her new bag. The idea that you can buy your way to saving the earth is misleading and goes against the first mantra of the three R’s – reducing your personal consumption.

In another article of NYT, the question of whether it’s really sustainable to buy your way out is examined:

“There is a very common mind-set right now which holds that all that we’re going to need to do to avert the large-scale planetary catastrophes upon us is make slightly different shopping decisions,” said Alex Steffen, the executive editor of Worldchanging.com, a Web site devoted to sustainability issues.

The genuine solution, he and other critics say, is to significantly reduce one’s consumption of goods and resources. It’s not enough to build a vacation home of recycled lumber; the real way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to only own one home.

Such is the irony of ‘green consumerism’. When products have been co-opted by retail businesses only as a way to garner more sales, there is a huge danger of losing its appeal in years to come. Then what? What happens to the trend-hoppers who only bought organic cotton Levi’s jeans because it was hip to do so?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy anything green. If you need a new light bulb changed because your old one just blew out, by all means go ahead and buy a CFL light. If you need a new bag because your old one has worn out, one of the best environmentally-friendly things you could do would be to make it a new one out of recycled materials.

However, when you already have two cars parked in your driveway, you don’t buy a Prius and pat yourself on the back for being ‘eco-friendly’. You also don’t need the ‘I am not a plastic bag’ bag to carry your groceries home, when you may already have a bag that does that perfectly well.

Buying something “eco-friendly” to replace a perfectly good item that you already own is just taking the cheater’s way out. Wait till it wears out, then you replace it with something eco-friendly.

Or, you could fuck consumerism and make your own bags instead:

Knitty has a great knitted pattern called the Everlasting Bagstopper

The Altered Cloth posts the top 7 internet tutorials for making your own bags

Not only does Morsbag teach you how to make a simple tote, they also organize parties or ‘pods’ where people stand outside supermarkets giving the bags they made away.

LionBrand has a simple tote bag for you to crochet.

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3 comments

  1. very interesting. i’m adding in RSS Reader


  2. Thanks. 😀


  3. Hope you don’t mind me asking, how many cars have you got parked on your drive? You have a good point about Anya Hindmarch’s bag encouraging consumerism when we should reduce reuse and recycle but I have to say I think its a good idea to make environmentally friendliness trendy, kids will grow up seeing people promoting recycling and all the rest of it and hopefully by the time their adults it will just be second nature to them. Plus kids need role models that show respect for the environment and each other instead of this self-centred, angry, disrespectful chav movement that’s destroying Britain. Like the idea of making your own bag might give it a try myself!



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