Hayley McLellan is the Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Campaigner and the founder of the Rethink the Bag campaign.

Late in 2016 Bargain Books contacted the Rethink the Bag campaign expressing interest in taking their first, intrepid steps towards a plastic shopping bag-free store environment.

This was, apparently, something they had been considering for some time. In conversation with Matthew Noel-Barham, their Operations Manager, it was quite evident to me that this was a brand seeking a way to do better by the environment.

When we consider that South Africans use approximately 8 billion plastic grocery shopping bags per year, what better way to stem this tide than to reconsider the common consumer habit of perceived convenience? Given that the number of plastic bags used for book sales is not taken into account in this report, the impact of your healthy literary habit on our planet remains unclear. At the end of the day, we can assume that developing a reusable shopping bag habit only benefits the environment.

Bargain Books’ Centurion branch was chosen as the trial store for this change of behaviour with its customers. This was implemented over the 2016 festive season, which was quite a bold move for the brand. It was therefore encouraging to hear then that customer feedback was “overwhelmingly positive”.

Here is a small sample of the many responses received on the Bargain Books Facebook page, some really passionate ones too!

“Fantastic news! Wish more would follow suit. ” – Sarah Ramsey Cornish

“Wow! Lovely” – Ntokozo Matsimane Ndlovu

“Thank you for supporting the environment!” – Deon Pretorius

In the words of the very famous entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson, the reaction of Bargain Books' customers on social media confirms that “doing good is good for business”.

“Our rivers, parks, bays and oceans are full of plastic. We are killing our fish and poisoning our food supply. We simply have to make a contribution to sustaining our environment for future generations. The plastic bag levy doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect, hence Bargain Books has gravitated towards activities that promote awareness of the environment and ways to protect it. By saying NO to single use plastic bags, Bargain Books hopes to really make a huge difference and promote sustainability. We try our best to reuse, reduce and recycle wherever possible and will continue to extend our commitment to the world around us.” – John O’ Sullivan (Bargain Books owner)

Thank you for supporting this campaign Bargain Books, you have our full support moving forward! And we challenge other stores to follow the lead …

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