June 19, 2018

Reusable printed bags: the unsung hero of the packaging world


How many different printed bags do you have at home? Quite a few I imagine. We use them to carry groceries, to carry our gym kit, to pack our children off to school each day, to store other bags (we all do it!) etc. We use printed bags so frequently and with such little attention that we see them as ‘just a bag’ – but they’re so much more!


Some interesting facts about the humble carrier bag:


  • A person uses a plastic carrier bag on average for only 12 minutes.
  • It’s estimated that we only recycle one plastic bag in every 200 we use.
  • The average reusable bag has a lifespan equal to that of more than 700 disposable plastic bags.
  • Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.
  • Ireland was the first European country to impose a tax on plastic bags. The nation has decreased its plastic shopping bag use by 90% since 2002, cutting overall plastic bag use by 1.08 billion.
  • Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and new bags. According to the BBC, one group alone harvests 30,000 per month.
  • Discarded plastic bags have turned up as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as the Falkland Islands, according to the British Antarctic Survey.
  • One person using reusable bags over their lifetime would remove more than 22,000 plastic bags from the environment.
  • Over 100,000 marine animals are killed each year from plastic bags. Sea turtles, water birds, and other creatures mistake them for food or become entangled in them.
  • Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the non-profit Centre for Marine Conservation.


Make yours more than ‘just a bag’


Printed bags are such an underestimated branding tool. Most businesses that provide products have to use a bag when they sell to customers. If you don’t want your printed bags to be ‘just a bag’ when they leave your business, you need to have strong branding and a design that will fit with and be a part of current themes.

A bag, be it plastic, paper or fabric, is a blank canvas waiting for you to make your mark. Use it well to promote your business. If you want people to reuse your bag and remember your brand you need to stand out from the packaging crowd. There are many ways to do this with colour, material, message or imagery.

Colour – choose colours that represent your branding for easy recognition. If your logo is to be a small part of the design then consider using colours that compliment your brand colours. Classic colour combinations are orange and blue, red and gold, green and yellow, pink and green, green and blue, yellow and purple. Another way to use colour to make an impact on your bag users is to choose colours that are currently on trend; Ultraviolet, described as an unforgettable shade, is the Pantone colour of the year 2018. You can use colour in an understated way for a minimalist look that speaks luxury, or as a vibrant explosion of colour that shouts fun and excitement. Either way, with a quality design, you can be sure your printed bags will draw attention wherever they go.

Material – for your bag to be more than ‘just a bag’, choosing the right material for the bag to hold your products and promote your brand is important. Printed laminated paper bags are the ideal choice for high-end fashion, beauty and luxury items like jewellery and electronics, whereas printed canvas bags are great for grocery stores, deli’s and natural products. The printed cotton bag is one of our best sellers; not surprising, as they are totally customisable and most certainly the most stylish and reusable printed bag around. Everyone holds on to a cotton bag; perfect for shopping, school books, dance/gym gear, beach bag and so much more. Get the design and message right and your printed cotton bag will be seen everywhere!

Message – for your printed bags to make an impression the message has to be right. It’s worth spending time on and enlisting the help of a design team with a creative flair. Think of the messages the big brands have; who springs to mind?  Nike: ‘Just Do It’, L’Oreal: ‘Because You’re Worth It’, Tesco: ‘Every Little Helps’. – It’s what we remember them for. A catchy message on your printed bags will have your company name on the tip of the tongue, just like the big guys!

Imagery – it’s true that a picture can paint a thousand words, especially the right picture. If full print image is what you want on your printed bags, just like with the message, it takes time to find the perfect image, one that will tell a story that resonates with the user and connects to your branding.

Working with these key points and the help of a talented design team you can make sure that your printed bag isn’t an unsung hero of the packaging world!


Did you know?


Since the introduction of the single use plastic bag tax we have seen a massive drop in the number of single use bags being sold in the UK. Data from the GOV.UK website indicates that the 7 main retailers issued around 83% fewer bags (over 6 billion bags fewer) in 2016 to 2017 compared to the calendar year 2014 (for which WRAP reported data). This would be equivalent to each person in the population using around 25 bags during 2016 to 2017, compared to around 140 bags a year before the charge.

If you want printed bags for your business that are reusable and recyclable, The Printed Bag Shop is the place to come. Choose from our range of paper, plastic or fabric bags and have our design team help you to create the ideal bag for your branding; a bag your customers will use again and again.