Thursday, 9 July 2009

No photos but more support from Highbury Barn traders

Michael Long at the Pharmacy, 14 Highbury Park
"Apart from anything else - greeness etc - plastic bags cost a fortune. We get staff to ask, 'Do you really need a bag?'"

Steve, manager of Da Mario, 34 Highbury Park & The Barn Store, 15 Highbury Park
"I say to staff ask people 'do you need a bag", so if they have got a pint of milk then they might think that they don't need one. It's not just the cost, it's the waste. In my experience that works. We've also give regulars our reusable cloth bags."

Jimmy at the Master Cobbler, 21A Highbury Park
"I spend #2,000 a year on plastic bags. Nowadays I reuse bags so that out of every 100 only 10 will need to be put into the rubbish."

Yehia el Nemer, owner of Oasis cafe at Highbury Fields
"I don't give out plastic bags. I support this idea 100 per cent."

Newsagent (with Time Out canopy)

Since July 2009 the newsagent at 9, Highbury Park, London, N5 2AB (just by the butcher) is the second shop in Highbury Barn to encourage customers to stop taking plastic bags by charging 5p for them.

Tip: newspapers and magazines are neatly carried in a cloth bag. If it's raining the combination of an umbrella and the plastic publishers wrap their products in should keep your reading material pristine and dry.

Frank Godfrey

Frank Godfreys Ltd, 7 Highbury Park, London N5 2AB is an award winning butcher. It sells its own reusable bags.
Tip: If you are trying to cut down on the plastic bags coming into your house take a tupperware container to carry your tasty meat purchases away.

Drugstore & Healthfoods

Drugstore and Healthfoods at 17, Highbury Park, London, N5 2AB (aka Natural Food Store and Fiveboys) is leading the way making Highbury Barn plastic bag free. Since 1 June 2009 the store charges 5p for plastic bags. It also sells compostable bags and partially compostable nappies.
Tip: If you've got a lot of shopping to carry (or heavy stuff like tins) then bring a couple of cloth bags or consider getting a trolley on wheels that looks a bit like a golf cart. There's plenty of room on the buses for them.

The Highbury Barn

The Highbury Barn pub at 26, Highbury Park, London, N5 2AB gives our main shopping street it's name. It's got plenty of racey history too - even the writer William Makepeace Thackeray featured the Highbury Barn in his 1848 novel Vanity Fair. It's over 500 pages long, but there's not a single mention of plastic bags.... because they hadn't yet been invented. Of love, lust, ingeniousness, scraps and wills there's plenty of mention though plus wicked (misunderstood?) Becky Sharpe.

Woodland Hardware

Woodland Hardware is at 20 Highbury Park, Highbury, London, N5 2AB.

"We always ask what bag customers want. We want to encourage people to bring their own bags so we don't automatically give plastic bags out. We also stock bio bags for composting and hope that soon we'll start using bags that customers can compost." June 2009

Newsagent (with Observer canopy)

The newsagents at 22, Highbury Park, London N5 2AB (by Woodland Hardware) are always keen to avoid giving out plastic bags. "When we had cloth bags all our customers wanted them," said Vi who runs the store.

La Fromagerie

La Fromagerie at 30 Highbury Park, London, N5 2AB stocks its own reusable bags.

Tip: instead of carting your deli cheese all the way home why not eat it in the shop on the benches provided?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Launch notice for 28 March


“There's so much horror in the world that we're powerless to change. Giving up plastic bags is within everyone's power--it's such an easy political act.” Sheila Dillon, Radio 4’s The Food Programme presenter & Highbury resident


Well-known food journalist and BBC Radio 4 presenter of The Food Programme, Sheila Dillon, is backing a campaign to make Highbury Barn go plastic bag free.

Sheila, who lives and shops in Highbury, will be at the launch of plastic bag free Highbury Barn event on Saturday 28 March, 3.30-5.30pm at Christ Church, Highbury Hill (nearest tube Arsenal. Buses include 4 and 19).

What to expect
“Come and hear Sheila launch the event, watch the free film showing – suitable for families – of Message In The Waves, and enjoy a free cake and cup of tea. There will also be stalls selling books and local craft. There are taster Shiatsu massages (for a small fee) and a chance to knit a handbag out of your unwanted plastic bags. Find out more at,” says one of the plastic bag free Highbury Barn group members, Nicola Baird. “Message in the Waves was made by a young Devon film maker, Rebecca Hosking, who went on to inspire her town, Modbury, and more than 100 others across the UK to go plastic bag free – including nearby Newington Green.”

Highbury is great
“I wholeheartedly support all efforts to make Highbury Barn plastic bag free,” says Sheila Dillon. “Highbury is one of the great London neighbourhoods and its shops bring people together. And they're such good shops--no need to go to the supermarket: better deals, better time, better environment, better life all achieved by shopping in your own neighbourhood (just need to wangle a fish shop in there). The shops set standards in so many ways, so let's do it with plastic bags--get rid of them and make shopping in the Barn even less damaging.”

“Plastic bags are unnecessary and ugly--wrapping themselves around trees, hedges, shrubs and fences in our neighbourhood,” adds Sheila Dillon. “Beyond our neighbourhood they do much uglier work: choking animals, fish, amphibians. And even when they're tidied away into landfill they release gases as they decompose that will poison the world for our grandchildren and their descendents. There's so much horror in the world that we're powerless to change. Giving up plastic bags is within everyone's power--it's such an easy political act.”

You support going plastic bag free...
In a recent survey 8 out of 10 Highbury Barn shoppers (81 per cent) support Highbury Barn going plastic bag free. See the full results at

Thursday, 5 March 2009

No bags at shiatsu clinic

Giuliana Perra, a shiatsu specialist, is one of the first traders in Highbury Barn to say no to all plastic.

"Watching the film Message in the waves with the other traders made me realise that it is not just plastic bags (I know that we need to start small) that we need to worry about, but plastic in general from baby toys to toothbrushes. The destiny of Hawaii made me think about the destiny of Sardinia, the island where I come from. I'd also like remind people about the amount of garbage in London - that's the way to keep the focus on making Highbury Barn free of plastic bags."

Giuliana is a Shiatsu Practitioner who offers Shiatsu full body treatments & Shiatsu targeted treatments at The Highbury Clinic, 111 Highbury Park, N5.

"Shiatsu is a deeply relaxing , energising & rejuvenating bodywork therapy," she adds. The session includes invigorating stretching, manipulations & nurturing techniques. Treatments are tailored to suit individual need and include an in-depth diagnosis. Regular sessions recommended for optimum results.


  • Natural facelift

  • Fine lines, sleeping disorders, anxiety & stressFace/ scalp & back Aches /pains, headache/migraine & irritabilityAntenatal & postnatal

  • Pregnancy discomfort, nausea, back soreness & fatigueFeet & legs

  • Cramps, heaviness, lower backache & depressionHands/ arms & shoulders

  • Back, neck & shoulders stiffness & respiratory problems

  • Ampuku (abdominal massage)

  • Intestinal, digestive & period problems.

"I am available for home visits, baby showers, pamper parties, hen nights, any special event… block bookings and gift vouchers available." For more information visit or contact Giuliana on 07950 26 74 86.

Giuliana is also a great cook and likes to bring this lemon polenta cake to the plastic bag free highbury barn events. IF you haven't yet tasted this cake, here's the recipe if you'd like to make your own. All the ingredients can be bought at Highbury Barn shops (remember your cloth bag!).


2 large eggs (I whisk the whites until they are stiff and mix them with all the ingredients at last moment with a wooden spoon)

175g of caster sugar

Zest of 2 large lemons

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

85g of fine polenta (cornmeal)

175g of butter (I use clarified butter) or 2 tablespoons of olive oil

150g of ground almonds

Tablespoon of poppy seeds (optional)

Half a teaspoon of baking powder

Bake at 180C for about 50 minutes

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Meet the baggers

Here's just a few of the people who are helping to make Highbury Barn plastic bag free: Lulu, Sylvie, Joe, Lola, Nicola, Caroline, Giuliana, George, Neil and Virendra. (Cinzia was busy doing press work with Yehia).

Next big event is Sat 28 March, 3.30-5.30pm. Come and watch a FREE movie and enjoy loads of FREE snacks and cakes at Christ Church, Highbury Hill. It's the most enjoyable way we can think of to help more people remember their bags more of the time.

Remember: keys, wallet, bag.

Monday, 23 February 2009


This is the spot where we'll be saying thank you to everyone who is helping Highbury Barn go plastic bag free.
First big thanks to Bromwen Davies for her excellent logo. Lots more of you will be added as time goes by...
And a huge thank you to Cristiano who created our plasticbagfreehighburybarn website, see it here.

1st press release: Highbury Barn set to go plastic bag free


Sent by: new group Highbury Barn Plastic Bag Free

Contact/sender of press release: Nicola Baird 0779 2717140
Contact: Cinzia Sarigu 020 7359 1824 07519 576962

Highbury Barn is on the way to going plastic bag free. A-street survey in December found that eight out of 10 shoppers at the Barn wanted Highbury Barn to go plastic bag free. And now a small group of residents are working on a plan to make it happen. Full survey results are at (a bit lower)

It's not just that plastic bag litter makes Highbury Barn look tatty. Plastic bags – just like the ones we sometimes unthinkingly ask for in the shops - and then typically use just once, for that 15 minute stroll home - are piling up environmental problems all round the world.

Plastic bag litter is lethal. It kills hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide each year.

In London 1.6 billion plastic bags are handed out by shopkeepers each year (and just 0.05 are recycled). The rest end up in landfill...

Plastic bags are really tough. They can take up to 1,000 years to break down. But if they blow out of a landfill site they can choke many unlucky animals and birds to death over and over again.

Now local mums and others who love Highbury Barn’s unique shopping character – Caroline Bucknall, Cinzia Sarigu, Lulu Radinger, Caroline Russell and Nicola Baird plus Neil Devlin are putting on a screening of Message in the Waves, the brilliant film that launched the UK’s first plastic bag free town in Modbury, Devon.

Traders at the Barn have been invited to an exclusive preview on Wednesday 25 February. Any trader who can’t make it will be given a free DVD of the film or helped to find it at the group’s new website,

“Going plastic bag free is the first step to reeducate ourselves in saving resources and taking care of our precious planet,” said Cinzia Sarigu who lives on Highbury Grove. “Although some people forget to bring out a bag when they pop to the shops, most of us try to bring a reusable bag or reuse a plastic bag. When we were doing the survey we found that nearly every one of the 100 people we asked said that they would be willing to pay a few pence for a biodegradable bag.”

“It’s such a small decision in your day just remembering to take a bag with you when you leave the house,” says Caroline Bucknall. “We know there are big problems in the world, but it’s good to be making changes to my daily habits that help me be the change I want to see.”

Yehia El Nemer at Oasis café in Highbury Fields said: “I don’t give out plastic bags, and when I go to a supermarket I take my bag. It’s such a waste. I support this idea 100 per cent.”

Families can come to a free screening of Message in the Waves on Sat 28 March at 3.30pm. This will be held at Christ Church. It’s a brilliant film, set in Hawaii that shows how plastic bags impact on the world. Expect to see great shots of surfing, playful dolphins, rock stars and baby albatrosses.

After the film take your cloth bag to the shops at Highbury Barn to buy something tasty for dinner.

You can add comments of support or suggestions about what next at the new blog

Last year Newington Green was the first area in Islington to become plastic bag free.

Highbury Barn traders have not yet been asked to support plastic bag free Highbury Barn campaign. The group of local campaigners want the traders to have all the info before they are asked to decide if they’d like to – or are able to - make their own stores/restaurants plastic bag free. Here are some notes if journalists wish to contact any traders.

The campaign has been given backing by local (highbury east) Lib Dem Councillor Terry Stacy. We hope many more local councillors will give their support. Our next step is to ask them.

Dates to follow:
This week – NEW website launched at
Tues 25 Feb – film for traders only, 6.15-8.30pm at Christ Church, Highbury Barn
Sat 28 Mar – free film for families, 3.30-5.30pm at Christ Church, Highbury Barn

Friday, 6 February 2009

Invitation: shoppers & families

Q: Why do dolphins play with plastic bags?
Q: Why is Hawaii a plastic dumping ground?
Q: Why’s a marine filmmaker from Devon so tough about using plastic bags?
Q: How do toothbrushes, print cartridges and lighters get inside albatross?

Q: Will it make a difference if I stop using plastic bags?

Find out the answers by joining us for a FREE family film show, Message in the Waves, on Saturday 28 March, 3.30-5.30pm. There will be drinks and cakes available. All aged children are welcome. It’s a chance to think about the best ways we can wean ourselves off using plastic bags… ideal for enthusiasts, sceptics, film lovers and anyone who loves the seaside.

Venue: Christ Church (main hall).

Find out more about making Highbury Barn plastic bag free at our brand new website -

Invitation: shop owners and staff

Come see a FREE film on Wed 25 Feb

If you are retailer, shop owner, café or restaurant manager, or work in a business at Highbury Barn please come to our EXCLUSIVE screening for businesses only of a short film, Message in the Waves, on Wednesday 25 February from 6.15-8.30pm.

It’s a free event. We would also like to offer you a drink and some snacks.
Venue: Christ Church (main hall).

There will be a chance to chat, meet members of the Plastic Bag Free Highbury Barn group and to ask questions about bags, plastic and the survey of Highbury Barn shoppers – 81 per cent support Highbury Barn going plastic bag free.

Find out more about making Highbury Barn plastic bag free at our brand new website -

Team meeting:10 Feb

Tuesday 10 February 8 pm, Cinzia's house. Tel.02073591824/ 07519576962
Action: please have a look at our new website before arriving!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Plastic bag free survey as statistics

Summary of our December 2008 survey (see the numerical answers in the entry below/ 4 January 2009). Here you can read the survey results as statistics.
  • Most shoppers (81 per cent) at Highbury Barn would like the shops at Highbury Barn to stop giving out plastic bags for free.

Question 1 More than 100 towns in Britain have banned plastic bags - do you think that Highbury Barn should?
A) yes 81%
B) no10%
C) not really 3%
D) not ban but strongly discourage 5%
E) doesn’t really matter/not sure 2%

Question 2Do you use a re-usable bag when shopping?
A) yes 61%
B) No 8%
C) sometimes/usually19%
D) try to remember but forget 12%
E) not sure1%

Question 3 How much would you be willing to pay for a biodegradeable bag (eg, corn starch)? Answers between 6p - 15p.
A) 6p - 10p 34%
B) 10p 20%
C) 10p - 15p 28%
D) 15p 10%
E) 20p 2%
F) want them to be free 5%

Question 4 And how much would you be willing to pay for a re usable bag (eg, cloth)? Answers between 50p - £2.00.
A) 50p 9%
B) 50p - £1.00 25%
C) £1 -40%
D) £1.00 - £2.00 16%
E) £2.00 5%
F) want them to be free 3%
G) wouldn’t pay 1%
H) don’t know 1%

During 2008 Newington Green was the first Islington borough to go plastic bag free. Their plastic bag free group, co-ordinated by Orlando Jopling, also did a survey (in spring 2008) which you can see on their blog here. We have compared the results (where the questions allowed us to).

The Newington Green blog has six relevant statistics that allow comparison.

Some are straightforward:
94% shoppers in Newington Green would support a ban on free plastic bags
81 % shoppers in Highbury Barn would support a ban on shops giving out free plastic bags.

Very few shoppers in Newington Green are prepared to pay £1 for a reusable bag.
Shoppers in Highbury Barn were more precise. A quarter (25 per cent) said that, for cloth bags the'd pay up to £1. Nearly half (40 per cent) said they'd pay around £1. And 16 per cent said they'd pay between £1-2. 16%. Highbury Barn shoppers seem much more willing than Newington Green shoppers to pay for reusable bags.

The other comparisons are more complex.

More than half (66 per cent) of Newington Green shoppers said they were prepared to pay for a bag. We didn’t put the question in that way to Highbury Barn shoppers. We broke the question down into types of bag. At Highbury Barn 94% said they were prepared to pay for a biodegradable bag. Even more (95%) said they were prepared to pay for a reusable bag.

Newington Green got the result that more than half (52%) would pay up to 5p for a reusable bag. But at Highbury Barn we asked the question: "How much would you be willing to pay for a biodegradeable bag (eg, corn starch)?" We found that: 34% said 6p-10p (the 6p-10p category is the nearest category our survey had to Newington Green's 5p choice) with the bulk of respondents happy to pay more than 6p.)

The survey statistics were pulled together by Plastic Bag Free Highbury Barn group member Neil Devlin.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Shoppers say "yes" to plastic bag free Highbury Barn

Here are the results from the survey of shoppers at Highbury Barn done by CAROLINE (13 Dec 2008) CINZIA, NEIL and NICOLA (20 Dec 2008). Shoppers of different ages, gender, ethnicity were asked. Answers were anonymous. For comments see the previous entry "100 Barn shoppers surveyed".

SUMMARY: In this first ever survey of Highbury Barn shoppers, an overwhelming number of the 100+ respondents said that they thought Highbury Barn should go plastic bag free (see question 1 results below). Although some people forget to bring out a bag when they pop to the shops, the majority like to bring a reusable bag or reuse a plastic bag (see question 2 results below). Nearly everyone surveyed said that they would be willing to pay a few pence for a biodegradable bag (see question 3 results below).

Question 1: More than 100 towns in Britain have banned plastic bags - do you think that Highbury Barn should?

91 x people said yes
11 x people said no
3 x people said not really, that they would miss them
6 x people - not ban but strongly discourage
2 x doesn’t really matter/not sure

Question 2: Do you use a re-usable bag when shopping?

71 x people said yes
9 x people said No
22 x people said 'sometimes/usually
14 x people ' try to remember but forget'
1 x person not sure

Question 3: How much would you be willing to pay for a biodegradeable bag (eg, corn starch)? Answers between 6p - 15p.

6p - 10p - x 32 people
10p - x 19 people
10p - 15p - x27 people
15p - x9 people
20p - x2 people
want them to be free x 5 people

Question 4: And how much would you be willing to pay for a re usable bag (eg, cloth)? Answers between 50p - £2.00.

50p- x 9 people
50p - £1.00 - x 24 people
£1.00 - x 38 people
£1.00 - £2.00 - x 15 people
£2.00 - x 5 people
want them to be free x 3 people
don’t know x 1 person
wouldn’t pay x 1 person

Ends survey.

Click here to see results from a similar survey (reported in The Tibune) which was run in Newington Green in early 2008. Newington Green is the first shopping zone in Islington to aim to go plastic bag free.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

100 Barn shoppers surveyed

More than 100 shoppers were asked what they thought about making Highbury Barn one of the 100 towns in Britain to go plastic bag free. Full results of the survey will be published at the end of January. Below are comments from some of the shoppers the note takers - Caroline, Cinzia, Neil and Nicola - spoke with on 13 and 20 December 2008.

'Good idea'

'Good idea'

'Information should be in shops - stickers in shop windows'

'Recycling bag info should be available'

'Made me think'

'There should be bins with bags in shop'

'Good idea'

'Good idea'

'Bring back brown paper bags'

'Stop them in supermarkets, charge for bags'

'Big shops should take the lead'

'Shops shouldn't give away bags and extra plastic packaging'

'Agree to get rid of them - stronger bags'

'Good to not use them - alternative ie paper bags'

'If no bags people will have to be resourceful'

'Focus on the environment - best if everybody does something'

'We don't really use them'

'Easy target (bags) Look at the other things'

'Cost issues - worried about the effects on shopkeepers'

'Shopkeepers should only give them out if asked'

'Would like them banned'

'The country should ban tham'

'You don't see them in Australia or South Africa'

'Discourage shops from automatically giving them'

'I don't agree with charging for bags'

'People should have to ask for a bag'

'They should do away with them'

'Very occassionally re-use bag'

'Ban plastic bags from big shops'

'Shopkeepers should ask'

'Big shops should take the lead'

'Like the idea of re-usable bags'

'Plastic bags are terrible'

'Shops should ask to make people think'

'Good idea'

'Think it's a good idea, feel guilty'

'Seen how bags without rubbish collection in the Middle East cause havoc (there was a description of them resembling a weather system- great drifts of plastic moving around)

'Very good idea'

'Needs to be at Government level' ( x2 )

'Agree in principle'

'Use the same bag over and over - education is important'

“It’s a small step. Don’t make it tyrannical. There are bigger issues.@

Nice paper bags? With sturdy handle? Could re-use.

“Need to educate people. People don’t know how long plastic takes to rot down. Before 1940s people used shopping baskets.We’ve created the idea that plastic is essential. It never used to be. How about having a bin where you can share plastic bags, so if you forget your bag when you go shopping you can reuse one. The supermarkets set the precedent. It’s very complex.”

“I’d like a plastic bag free Highbury Barn.”

“Somethings you’ve got to do.”

“My mum would be thrilled if Highbury Barn went plastic bag free.”

“If you want to ban bags need a place to drop the bags we all hoard (to get rid of them, or recycle them).”

“It’s a good idea. I got my cloth bag from Fromagerie.”

“I recycle anyway. I only put things in the bin that can’t be recycled. I use plastic bags for rubbish bags.”
“All supermarkets should be made to stop giving out plastic bags.”
“Highbury Barn is almost plastic bag free. There’s cloth bags at Da Mario and the butcher and the cheese shop. But it is up to individuals.”

“Want shops to charge for bags”

“Supermarkets shouldn’t give them out.”

“How recyclable is recyclable?”

“I support a plastic bag free Highbury Barn” (4 different people)

Traders like you using their bags with their logo, but they don’t like you bringing in an unmarked bag. “They can view the latter with suspicion: they think an unmarked bag allows the customer to nick stuff and then pass it off as their own.”