Frequently asked questions:

1.How many stores are hosting your bags?

Right now there are 9 stores/locations.  There are three small community oriented food stores, two
clothing thrift shops, two libraries, several farmers markets, a hardware store and even a school bookstore.

2. Is there a “sweet spot” in terms of the number of stores that make it become a community-wide thing
(i.e., everyone knows about it and it feels like it is making a difference)?

I’m not sure about this, but the bags do have a life of their own and it’s fun when they are returned to many
different locations. With the original location printed on the tag one fantasizes and wonders
about the journey of the bag.
2.  How many bags did you sew before you placed your first batch in a store?

The number of bags to sew and get donated (bag drives) are based on the store owner estimating how many bags paper and plastic are used in one year. This is how we use our starter poster. Please print it out on the poster page. We make it 4 x the size and tape together the sections.

For example: The Creamery used 49,000 bags in one year. That’s 136 bags each day!
But there are some people bringing their own already and some of the bagshare bags will be returned
to the pool.  We decided to ‘launch’ with no less than 500 bags.  Then we sewed on an ongoing basis.

3 How many bags do you end up losing so therefore how many do you have to replenish on say a percentage basis? 

This depends on a multitude of factors.  Are there summer tourists who may only come once to the store?
Is the store one that customers come back to often? Have you accidentally chosen a store that is too large,
like a large chain grocery store? Are the bags too nice looking so people just keep them!

Once you take on a store you and all the others who sew for them adopt that store and like any
good adopion its for life! It’s important to find a motivated store owner. Most of our store owners sew or help
in the sewing circles for their stores.

4. Did the stores want you to wash and maintain the bags? 

We did not have a problem with this. One very conscientious store owner checks each bag for cleanliness before it goes back ut which is a great idea.

5. Do you also include other bags (i.e., existing canvas or cloth bags) in your effort? 

Yes, doing a bag drove is an easy way to get more bags. You can also contact places that have done fundraisers where they have bags printed to give away to see if they will donate leftover totebags from their event. Contacting places that silkscreen bags to see f they have misprinted ones is another idea. 
Sew the tag on the front of all of these bags so they will get returned.

6. The merchants I have spoken with so far are interested in having uniformly
sized bags when they host.  Did you find this to be the case?

Contacting a lot of stores together is not a good idea. unless you have lots and lots of sewers!
The Bagshare project is not a free labor pool that mass produces bags for free to stores. It is a community minded bunch f people of all ages and backgrounds who enjoy sewing especially together. The bagshare is a creative project and one that likes to re-use stuff that’s already on the planet.  So making bags out of blue jeans, miniskirts, upholstery samples  are just some of the ideas that keep people excited and sewing. Making bags of a uniform size is limiting, but whatever feels fun for your community is fine too!

7. When you do your sewing events, how many bags per xx (per hour, for example) do you find that experienced sewers can make?

With the ‘Jiffy’ bag a bag can be made in about 7 minutes using a reused handle, like a neck tie or a seat belt.

8. What do you do to keep people going with the project?

All I know is that Creativity rules! And the organizing should be a sharing, not a top down approach.
People naturally lead when they can go with what excites them. Use money as little as possible.
Share skills. Involve the schools and the younger people and the older people. Not everyone wants to sew.
Some people cut out fabric. Some like  to  check on the store owners. Others collect seat belts and upholstery samples. Once you have enough sewing machines lend them out so stay a home parents can sew too.

More pointers for starting The BagShare Project in your town:

What to suggest to a larger store when you think the BagShare may not be right for them.

We recommend that larger stores eliminate plastic bags, re-use their boxes and offer reusable bags for sale at their counters, and also that they eliminate paper bags as well. When no bags are offered customers quickly learn to bring their own bag. If the step of removing all bags is too radical stores could impose a tax on all disposable bags. In Washington DC there is a 20 cent bag tax and in Ireland there is a 33 cent 'plastax' on plastic bags. We think paper bags should also be taxed.

Humans are the only creatures on earth that produce trash.

The Bagshare Project is committed to the principle of Zero Waste.

We are committed to collecting scrap fabric only and using it for the bags. 

The BagShare Project builds community and loyalty to local stores when participants sew bags for your local venue. Sewing circles are multi-generational and inclusive with people of different skill levels teaching each other in schools, public buildings and community centers. We also like to take over underused public buildings to make into community sewing centers for all!

A larger goal of 'The BagShare project' is to teach the skill of sewing in order increase awareness of where our clothing is made and how far it travels. We have started a series of clothing repair clinics that are free and open to everyone.

Sewing Machines: These are donated by individuals

Sewing Machine repair: Put out a call to individuals who can repair sewing machines.
Teach free classes on fixing and oiling your sewing machine.

The goal of eliminating disposable bags one store at a time can also be used as an organizing effort to create plastic bag free and disposable bag free towns. Check out this website from Modbury, England the first Plastic Bag free town.

We are using the following films to speed this effort along.

Message in the waves (9 minutes)

The other film: The Battle of the Bags is a history of the plastic bags and the global effort to stem the environmental devastation caused by this ubiquitous invention. It is a Canadian documentary and is $156.