Sign up to Tania Reynolds’ pilot project to turn the tap off on plastic waste into the oceans

Editor’s note: My modest attempt at still life with one of Tania’s surprisingly sturdy bags

Since countries across the world signed up to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal in 2016, I have been advocating business change in large corporates, calling them to adapt their business model as a means to delivering these goals.  I have worked as a consultant in financial services and across industries for several years.  With respect to the crisis in the climate we now face, there are 6 main priorities – Clean air and water, food and shelter, clothing and energy.  These are all interlinked and all have issues with pollution that threaten a sustainable future.

I have focused on providing solutions on the aspects that I have some control over, and which seems to have the highest risk.  Plastic pollution in the oceans requires a focused and immediate response if we are to survive as a species.  This takes place in 3 main forms – (a) plastic pollution from microfibres released into the water during washing, (b) single use-packaging and (c) discarded shopping / carrier bags.

To this end, given my ability and experience in designing and setting up new products and services, I propose to set up a new service, that of providing bags to retailers on a rental basis, that can be collected from the consumer after use, washed, mended, and delivered back to the retailer for re-use. I am starting with shopping bags, but hope to increase the range of washable packaging to send back to retailers for re-use with the aim of becoming a waste-free society. If the bag is cared for, it will survive for a few years, if it is discarded, it will rot away in less than a year and will not cause pollution.

The bag is specifically designed for the current crisis and has the following characteristics.  It is lightweight and non branded, similar to the plastic bag on offer, which means that more bags can be washed per kilo and reduce the water used and amount of cotton required to make it.  It is made of cotton, easily washed, easy to source sustainably and is bio degradable.  I am making the samples by hand, to test whether collecting and then washing by hand is feasible, so there are no CO2 emissions produced.  Once washable packaging is a viable option, single-use packaging will significantly be reduced and more washable packaging will begin to be seen in the market place.  Existing plastic packaging currently used once, can be fitted with zip-locks and add a seal in paper and glue. The paper and glue seal would be discarded, but the bag could be washed and sent back to the retailer or their manufacturer for re-use.  

I am calling for volunteers who are willing to participate in a pilot to test this new service.  I need 6 teams of 4 each to cover the following aspects: 

  1. Collection
  2. Washing
  3. Mending
  4. Sorting in to pick lists
  5. Delivery to the retailer
  6. Admin, sales & marketing, collect fees and administer the service.

I am also looking for volunteers who will participate in using the bags and report back on the findings.  I propose that 10 shoppers per day for 7 consecutive days agree to participate and disclose their names and addresses to their retailer.  I am supposing that the online shopping option already has this ability and consent has already been given.  I am looking for feedback on the following aspects – number of bags used per shopper, volumes of daily bags, volume of weekly bags, number of lost / sold / unreturned bags.  I am also looking for feedback on the delivery process.  I am expecting the collections process to be carried out on foot in a 1 mile perimeter to reduce the CO2 emissions and speed up the circular aspect of the service.

9% of all plastic produced is recycled and we do not have enough recycling capacity to recycle the rest.  However, there are time scales involved in building new facilities for this purpose which may be too late to solve the crisis we face today.  

I am unable to pay you for your volunteering services, but I am very willing to work for you for free in exchange, doing chores, helping out or any other suggestion to help you, in exchange for helping to run this pilot.

I hope that you will feel able to participate and make a difference to life on earth and a more sustainable future.

Please contact Tania MV Reynolds on for more information or to volunteer for the project.