From bags to riches

Filed in Blog, Waste News by on April 14, 2010 13 Comments
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It takes this many empty crisp packets to make one handbag

It takes this many empty crisp packets to make one handbag

How excited are we?

You remember we launched crisp packet recycling in our local Tesco store, in association with the Philippine Community Fund?

Well a month after we launched the scheme, we trotted back to meet our Community Champion, Glynis, to see how many empty crisp packets she had managed to collect for us.

What do you reckon – one month, in one store. How many crisp packets do you think we managed to collect for recycling?

Let’s just say it was a good job all three of us went to the store, otherwise it would have been a heavy job for one person to get them all back to the car!

I was expecting a couple of hundred empty crisp packets, but Glynis came out of the back of the store with a colleague to deliver 6 large polythene bags full of the beauties. I nearly cried when I saw them. As you’ll have gathered, it’s not often I’m speechless; but I did have my mouth hanging open in that vacant kinda way when I saw what the fabulous people of Gloucester had collected for us.

We had the task of bringing the empty crisp packets home, counting and weighing them and have the following amazing totals to share with you:

We collected over 7kgs of crisp packets, which amounted to over 3,000 empty packs

How cool is that?

What’s even better is what they are ‘worth’ to the Philippine children we are supporting.

One of the things we talk about when we do our waste presentations is that we need to change the words ‘rubbish’ and ‘waste’ to resource. That’s exactly how the resourceful people of the Philippines view our crisp packets.
The reality is that the ‘rubbish’ we’ve collected in one month will support 3 children for a year because they will be woven into beautiful, practical and hard wearing bags. Once sold, the income from these handbags will provide 2 uniforms, a pair of shoes, transport to and from school, all school supplies, 2 meals a day, 2 school trips and medical care for the entire family.

We would like to extend our thanks to everyone in Gloucester who has taken the trouble to collect and recycle their crisp packets for the Philippine Community Fund. Your contributions really do make a difference to the lives of some of the poorest Filipino Communities. We would also like to thank Glynis who has looked after our collection point, worked tirelessly to promote our recycling venture and kept the bags stored for us.

So let’s see what we can collect in another month! Remember, if you live in Gloucester save up all your empty crisp packets and take them to the Tesco store in St Oswalds Road for recycling. If you are local and want a collection point in your school, works canteen or pub then Contact Me and I’ll see what we can do to help you.

Over 3000 crisp packets recycled in Gloucester for the Philippine Community Fund

Over 3000 crisp packets recycled in Gloucester for the Philippine Community Fund

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (13)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Fantastic effort, Mrs Green. When others join in on trend activities the results can be exceptional.

  2. Sooz says:

    Yey, thats amazing!!!

  3. Julie Day says:

    Wow, that is some collection. I have been doing my bit and collecting packets and other shiny wrappers and sending them to Southampton.

  4. Jackie says:

    Great effort. Not so great that so many crisps are being eaten. They are not healthy.

  5. H0gg!t says:

    What fantastic work!!

    Am considering setting up such a system in my son’s school, a lot of crisps are consumed there! Will be a good eco project and will teach them a less wasteful and more thoughtful way to deal with “resources”.

    I am wondering, how do you send them, especially such large quantites to Southampton? Courier/Royal Mail and what are the costs for a bin bag full? Do they need to be washed first?

  6. Teresa says:

    It’s great that so many people took action to recycle their crisp packets once they had the factility to do it.

    But, as this is just from one shop in one month, I’m afraid that it highlights to me just how much rubbish is actually being produced out there. Multiply this by many hundreds of shops and you’ve got ‘tonnes’ of the stuff – and that’s just crisp packets! We know about it, but push it to the backs of our minds. I read a boast recently from a yoghurt company about all the millions of items they sold in a certain time period and immediately thought about all the the plastic pots going to landfill. I’m not criticising the efforts and the benefit this scheme produces (it’s brilliant work and I’m just dong the opposite of what you said in your last post about praising the good efforts), I’m just stating what comes to my mind when I see all that rubbish collected together. It somehow brings it all home and should surely make people sit up and take notice.
    Teresa x

  7. Jackie says:

    Sun Chips in the US now have compostable bags made from plants. Maybe it’s time to urge more crisp companies to follow suit.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: @Sooz: Thanks John and Sooz our ultimate aim will be to roll this out nationwide, but we need to bide our time and show how this could potentially work.

    @Julie Day: THanks Julie – it’s heartwarming to hear of others doing their bit 🙂

    @Jackie: Hello Jackie. I know – we have to compromise on things. But let’s face it, people are going to eat the crisps anyway, we’ll never stop them/. So let’s at least give them a responsible way to dispose of the wrapping. Great news about the Sun Chips; I’ll investigate that and see if these bags are genuinely compostable in a home system – do you have more info?

    @H0gg!t: They don’t need to be washed – they are put through a sanitizer. Getting them to Southampton – at the moment one of the lady’s from the PCF has relatives in Gloucester who are visited once a month, so we can meet up and exchange the goods. Other than that, we will get a car full together and drive there – it’s about 1 1/2 hours. We haven’t looked into a courier. So tbh, I’m not sure what you would do unless we can push this scheme out nationwide…

    @Teresa: Thanks for your comment, Teresa – I agree with you completely. REDUCE is the number 1 in recycling, but alas I don’t see a way to do this across the masses. I would love manufacturers to change their packaging to something more sustainable, but even then we are at the mercy of people actually disposing of it responsibly. You are right though; it was a shock to see all these and to realise that across the UK and the world we are producing masses and masses of rubbish. I can hear Mother Nature groaning as I type …

  9. Joanna says:

    Hey, I just chanced on your site and on this post. I can’t say how impressed I am with the effort. I’m wondering how I can get involved? Who do I contact about possibly sending my own bag to? and where do I send them?

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Joanna: Hi Joanna, welcome to the site. I responded to your contact us form, but it was returned as you sent the wrong email.
    In answer to your questions:

    You can collect up your own empty crisp bags and send them by post, yes. You don’t need to wash them out, just tip out the crumbs!
    There is no minimum amount as you send them at your own expense; but it’s amazing how many you can stuff into an A4 envelope. If you buy large packs of crisps or the multi packs you can send that packaging in too and the bit outers.

    Please send to:
    The Philippine Community Fund,
    PO Box 294,
    Hedge End,
    SO3O 2YD

  11. mike says:


    I discovered the collection box a few weeks ago and have been collecting and depositing my crisp packets ever since.

    Are there any plans to expand into Tesco’s at Brockworth? As it’s surrounded by offices, who’s workers buy their sandwiches & crisps there, it could be a good resource going to waste (literally!) Is there anyone reading this artice works for Fortis who would like to get involved?

    Keep up the good work

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @mike: Hello Mike – thank you so much for helping to support this cause! *I* have plans to expand the scheme to all the Gloucestershire Tescos, but I’m not sure they do 😉 I’m still talking with them and I have to accept that alas, these things do not happen overnight.

  13. Tess says:


    I know these posts were a while ago now but are you still collecting the crisp packets?
    I would love to collect something what is considered rubbish for a great cause.

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