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The one piece carrier bag was invented by Swedish engineer, Sten Gustaf Thulin, in the early 1960s. It is a triumph of simple, cheap and effective design which is why it is so popular. Some 500 billion of these bags are estimated to be used across the world each year. This has caused major environmental concern, especially in developing countries with poor recycling facilities. Recently UK supermarkets have introduced a charge for their bags and the Kenyan government has introduced a ban on the manufacture, selling or use of plastic bags, with a fine of £3000 or four years in jail.

These measures reduce the numbers of bags in circulation which is useful in the short term. However, the pollution they are causing is not the fault of the bag. More effort needs to be focused on devising ways of collecting and recycling individual plastics. Alongside this, support ought to be given to major polluters in other parts of the world to help set up adequate recycling systems.


The re-used bag depicted here is crumpled with folds and creases that challenge the draughtsman. The translucency created by back lighting makes the colours more vibrant but harder to capture. The light and dark areas defined by the folds provide an indication of the forms. However, it is the subtlety of these many creases, contrasted with the need to depict the overall shape, which proves difficult to capture. This basic structure is complemented by the distorted lettering as it flows across the undulating surface.

An image of the elements that were created to make the drawing

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