Lidl is the latest supermarket to reignite the campaign to rid the UK of plastic bags as it announced it will be scrapping its 5p single use bags and replacing them with pricier 9p thicker, more durable alternatives from January 2017.
The supermarket's pledge is estimated to save up to 63 million plastic bags a year. However, the 5p 'plastic bag tax' that was imposed by the government and forced every store to charge for their bags with the proceeds going to charity is also going to be removed from Lidl with this initiative – which could prove very lucrative for the supermarket.
As the Telegraph noted, if every Lidl customer replaces their 5p purchase with a new 9p bag, the German-owned store "could boost its profits by up to £567m [$736m] a year from sales" as it has no plans to donate any of the extra money made from the pricier carriers.
Of course the sale of plastic bags is nothing new for Lidl, who have never offered carriers for free but in removing themselves from the countrywide 5p market they may end up with a great deal of up-bought bags.
A study released by Cardiff University today (29 September) showed that in fact the number of shoppers using single use plastic bags has dropped dramatically since the 5p charge was initially introduced last October.
While the study found that one in four people in England had previously admitted to using single-use bags that figure had dropped to one in 10 following the nationwide ban on free carriers. Also 93% of those who took part in the survey said that they always/often carry their own bags when shopping after six months of the carrier bag ban, a sharp increase from the 70% of those who did so beforehand.
In less than a year we have managed to train ourselves to pack before we go and while we're not going to mention the odd blue plastic bag that houses the occasional late night bottle of wine, we have become a jute and cotton toting eco shopper nation.
Whether or not you found it a traumatic changeover, the thought of plastic bags adding to our shopping bill has made us far more creative with our carriers and those ragged cotton totes that used to fester in our drawers have become our best friends. Furthermore, they have become a stalwart fashion accessory that can show off more about your lifestyle than the best cafe Instagram shot.
From farmers markets to French festivals, we are using the need to bring bags for our weekly shop to tell those around us that we love modern art or shopping in independent bookstores while we pack away the sour dough and toilet roll in the supermarket.
Rather than splurging 9p regularly for the new Lidl offering, it is a far wiser option to invest well in a bag that can be added to your wardrobe as well as the boot of your car.
Scroll down to see which shopping bag tribe you belong to:
The wholesome brunch club: Nothing that goes in this bag will be anything but the finest of organic produce, whether it be Whole Foods or Borough market, the brunch club tote is always from a reputable and simply wonderful store that sells a fabulous soy latte as well as a great range of vegetables grown in the Cotswolds by 'a dear friend'.
The music lover: These are the bags that are made to discern the real music lovers in the crowd. Alternative bands, obscure record labels and independent brands are top of the list and will definitely be on the arm of someone grabbing a few bits before they head to a Boiler Room session or a secret gig.
The city breaker: No cultured country hopper is complete without visiting the Parisian mainstay Shakespeare and Company and buying a suitably labelled tote bag, but the same goes for any artistic bag from Europe from Portuguese art galleries to Berghain, anything that screams 'I hang out in other countries, but am never a tourist.'
The 'I love NY but not with a T-shirt': New York tote bags really deserve their own section. While many people are content with the old 'I heart New York' for their essentials, many will go further afield to pick up a momento that can't be found on eBay.
The 'I drink champagne for breakfast': While most people will browse longingly in Fortnums and Harrods before splurging £9 on jelly beans and running away, there are the select few who do their weekly shop in London's most prestigious food markets. If you're one of the former you can still make your weekly shop feel glorious with a fantastic branded tote on your arm for your Aldi lobster to poke out of.
The invite only: There are plenty of these in London but the ones you will see more often than not are Fashion Week bags on the arms of happy writers and bloggers who will have a collection of thousands at home from every press event they have ever been to but can't bring themselves to throw them away.
The 'I was there': The festival and concert bag for those who put the time in to walk 200 miles around Glastonbury or stayed up all night to get those Taylor Swift tickets, and want to remind you of these events every time they go shopping.
The coastal darling - Very much the Down-From-London-ers stalwart. From Joules to Rick Stein, the coastal jute bag is a favourite of Sunday afternoon shoppers picking up a few bits before the kids come to stay before they head back on the next mini break to grab a few more, just in case.
The British bookworm: The British book shop holds a place in everyone's hearts and if Daunt Books is anything to go by, they also occupy a solid position on the shoulder of every shopper in the UK. Whether it is a British Library exhibition or the good old Daunt, we love a bookshop bag.
The artist's special: It might look like a regular bag but these babies can come with a hefty price tag. Either they are designed by the likes of Tracy Emin or they cost £5 from the gift shop, but you will never know which is which, nor will anyone tell you.