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GRAB - Gloucester Road Alternative Bag Campaign


Really great things have happened since GRAB launched in September 2008!

Hundreds of thousands of plastic bags have been saved from use along Gloucester Road already. Scoopaway have used 36,000 fewer bags than in the previous year and Joe's Bakery gave out 18,000 fewer.

Major reductions of well over 80% have also been seen in, amongst other places, The Breadstore, La Ruca, Totally Toys, St Peter's Hospice Shop and Bishopston Books.

There have been significant decreases in bag use, of at least 50%, in many other stores including: Bristol Tools, Dave Giles the Butcher, Pearces Hardware, Harvest, The Amnesty Bookshop, Murray's, Bishopston Hardware, Area 51 and Craftworks.

Please continue to congratulate all those shops and businesses that are involved in pushing this initiative forward. Notable additional examples also include: Iota, Sage, Playfull Toys, Brewer's Droop, Born, Bishopston Trading Company and Cartrige Right. The Law Shop and 18a Productions have also been indispensable.

Of course none of this could have happened without you, and your simple commitment to bring your own bag. So thank you, and please keep spreading the word to unreformed friends and local businesses!



GRAB bags are sourced from Greenteeprints and printed by them in Stokes Croft, using eco-friendly inks. They are made from organic cotton in India by bags2keep and feature the GRAB logo, created by local illustrator, Sophie Swindells.

The smaller tote bags cost £2.00, the large strong shoppers cost £4.50

They are available from outlets on Gloucester Road including: Playfull Toys, Sage, Iota, La Ruca, Simply Furniture and Horfield Post Office.

Silai Bags

Silai bags are made by a women's sewing skills project in Eastern called Silai for Skills, using reclaimed fabric and organic fairtrade cotton, or hessian coffee sacks donated by Brian Wogan.

They are available from outlets on Gloucester Road including: Murray's Butchers.

Bishopston Trading Company Bags

Bishopston Trading Company are also supplying Gloucester Road bags, made from Fairtrade organic cotton in their village co-operative in South India; KV Kuppam.

These bags are available from outlets along Gloucester Road including: Bishopston Trading Company, Born, Joe's Bakery, Dave Giles Butchers and Mad About Sarnies.

Potato Starch Bags

As shops finish their current stock of plastic bags they will be moving on to potato starch bags that can be home composted or put in Bristol's brown food-waste bins (only compostable bags with the looped seedling logo will be accepted by the council).

The larger GRAB branded bags are made from waste-potato starch in England by Biopac.

Gloucester Road traders will also be using bags made in England from potato starch by Compisax.


Just Looking - an exhibition by Mark Rowe and Sean Malyon Exhibition

Mark Rowe and Sean Malyon were kind enough to show their exhibition at the Golden Lion on Saturday 20th September 2008, as part of the GRAB launch.

Here you can read about the exhibition and see some examples from it.

It is 5am on Saturday on the Gloucester Road. The shutters are still fastened on the shop fronts and there's a few beer cans and bottles scattered along the kerb edges. The large residential community that adjoins the road slumbers on unaware that, even at this sleepy hour of the day, the business of running the shops that serve the area has already begun.

Mike Russ, the grocer, got out of bed at 3.15am in order to go to the fruit and vegetable market when it opened at 5am. He is joined there by Anna Tenbroeke, the florist, seeking the freshest roses from the flower market.

Around 5.30am the smell of baking bread from the Breadstore starts to drift along the high street and berths in your nostrils. Between 6.30am and 7.30am the traders begin to arrive in the street to unload their goods. At 9am Vincenzo Noto, the barber, opens his doors. By mid-afternoon the 1,000th croissant will have come out of the oven at the Breadstore.

There's a journalistic adage that goes like this: "There's a story in every house and shop in the country." This is certainly true of the Gloucester Road. One shop owner has run 13 marathons, another was involved in a pioneering human rights case, another couple washed up in Bristol after fleeing the Pinochet regime in Chile. What they have in common is individuality and ingenuity – which is unsurprising because, to run your own business, you certainly need to live on your wits and back this up with huge reserves of self-belief and stamina.

There are many fascinating shops along the Gloucester Road, each with its own story. However, this has been a self-funded project and because of that we have limited ourselves to the shops you see here.

We would love to see the story of the Gloucester Road produced in a book. If you are able to help us do that, or if you just have a question about this exhibition, please get in touch.

Mark Rowe is a journalist specialising in social affairs, wildlife and the environment. He is a former staff writer for the Independent on Sunday, to which he continues to contribute regularly. He also writes for the Daily Telegraph and a range of other titles, including BBC Wildlife and Geographical magazine.

Email: Mark@MarkRowe.eu

Sean Malyon is a commercial and editorial photographer whose work has been published in many magazines including BBC Gardens Illustrated, BBC History and BBC Countryfile. He also works for corporate clients.

Email: sean@seanmalyon.co.uk

Web: www.seanmalyon.co.uk