There is a lot of effort being made in both the private and public sectors towards reducing plastic pollution. However, there is one industry that is actively polluting through its use of plastic, and it is happening right before our eyes. These polluters are the clothes collection companies that hide behind UK charities.


Statistics provided by reveal that 525,000,000 bags are delivered across Britain annually, amounting to 2,625 tonnes of plastic. Yet given that only 3% of these bags are filled and left out on collection day, 509 million bags (or over 2,500 tonnes) are not used for their intended purpose, they are not even single use.






Used for








Such companies distribute small bags with a larger bag inside knowing that the average conversion rate is around 3%. They know that for every 1,000 bags that each person distributes each day, they will collect an average of 30 bags in return, leaving the remaining 970 unused.

Many of the ‘leftovers’ will be disposed of as rubbish and will likely end up

in a landfill site or simply discarded.

Other issues with charity bags

- Many of them are poor quality, arriving with ripped or opened outer bags, which means kids can reach the bag inside.

- Some people worry their dog may get hold of the bag unsupervised and that they swallow shreds of plastic or choke.

- Distributors complain it can be difficult to push the bags past letterbox bristles and brushes, requiring them to push the bag through with their fingers; resulting in complaints of dog bites.

The well-known environmental effects

Plastics leach into the soil or are washed into the ocean and slowly release toxic chemicals, leading to cancers, birth defects, immune system problems, and childhood developmental issues. The most prevalent concern is the consumption of plastic by animals.

Are there alternatives  to plastic bags?

Yes, of course! The alternatives have been there for years.

Paper Leaflets
Leaflets can be used to ask for donations, leaving the donor to use their own bag. Leaflets are biodegradable and decompose naturally without harming the environment in such a devastating way. Companies can also make leaflets much more informative than the average package of plastic bags. The average collection rate for leaflets is slightly lower than it is for bags; however, leaflets are smaller and lighter than bags, and this means that more leaflets can be distributed, covering a larger area for the same price. So, using leaflets can still achieve a similar collection rate.

Self-Adhesive Paper Stickers
We have seen some clever experiments from smaller companies that have distributed stickers for the identification of donations. The benefits of using them are the same as using leaflets, and people can place the sticker on their own bag.

Environmental Impact

of paper based promotion

Our research shows that paper mills are aware that wood is a valuable commodity in paper manufacturing and they have no intention of letting it disappear. Trees are continually grown and harvested in a strictly controlled way. Thanks to this strict control European forests have increased in size every year over the past ten years by an area the size of Greece.

(If companies insist to plastic bags)

Or let's be more innovative...

Bag for request

A paper leaflet with a free text number for those who are actually requesting a plastic bag for donation. Companies can deliver it next day.

Free text




Plastic bag


Bag for return

Using paper leaflet, the driver collecting donations can leave a plastic bag in return for every donated bag.





Plastic bag


Both these alternatives mean 97% (2500 tonnes) less plastic bag usage and zero additional plastic pollution.

Will collector companies ever use any alternatives?

Unlikely! Most of them are not trying alternatives because they make huge profits using cheap, imported plastic bags and cannot make the same profit using environmentally-friendly alternatives. The money they make on those bags is their own profit, charities get comission after the collected amount.

It is easy such companies to almost double their return by selling bags to subcontractors who then do the actual job of managing collections. By subcontracting, company owners are less concerned by competitor services. Even if there are four or five collections a week in the same area by different companies and the collection amount is low, their profit will still be maintained thanks to those bags.

How to stop plastic bag distributors?

"NO JUNK MAIL" or "COLD CALLER" signs does not stop the flow because no collection company considers their bags to be junk. And because those bags are connected to charities, the public also tend to accept them.

Fortunately for those who don't want to receive any more bags, from September 2017 companies were banned from posting collection bags through letterboxes if householders display a ‘NO CHARITY BAG’ sign. However, many householders have complained that a sign is not enough to prevent charity bags coming through the door.

It is because distributors deliver around a thousand bags each day, and they do not have the time or energy to read all of the different kinds of signs, notes, and lists that home owners affix to their front doors. Language barrier is also a common issue.

Our solution is an easily recognizable

'NO CHARITY BAG' door sticker



We are relying heavily on social distancing which makes important to reduce the uninvited visitors on our frontyard. This is why we extended the original design with a NO JUNK MAIL warning.

With your help, we can change the routine and force those companies to use less harmful alternatives.


Address152 - 160, City Road EC1V 2NX United Kingdom

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