Tresure Hunt% Eco-Friendly Shopping Bags

For MT
Fashion designer Alyona Akhmadullina has teamed up with Juicy boutique and Yoga Journal to sell a limited-edition cloth shopping bag -- and not just any bag, as it turns out.

Only 777 of the bags are to be produced. They are to sell for 999 rubles. They are to be available for only two weeks, at just the one store. And the money raised is not going into just any pocket -- it is for WWF Russia, to help improve national parks and reserves.

Organizers hope the project will emulate the "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" craze that swept Britain when accessories designer Anya Hindmarch released a bag emblazoned with that slogan this year.

The Russian version -- an olive green, heavy-duty cotton sack accented with red piping -- bears "Za Chistuyu Rodinu!" or "For a Clean Motherland!" in large, curving, white Cyrillic letters.

"To produce the bag with such a slogan is a way for a designer to attract people's attention to such a crucial question as the protection of the environment," said Akhmadullina through her PR manager, Yelena Prussakova.

As part of the eco-bag campaign, three slightly different designs with a reserve price of $1,000 each are to be offered at the Millionaire Fair's modern art auction. This money is also to be donated to the WWF.

Although almost everyone and their babushka saves and reuses plastic bags in Russia, either to carry things on the street or for garbage at home, the country still consumes and disposes of billions of them a year. Plastic bags do not truly decompose in the environment, with estimates for the length of decomposition ranging from 20 to 1,000 years.

By raising the visibility of the problem and making it fashionable to be conscious of environmental issues, the promoters hope to make a difference.

"This action is aimed at attracting attention to the problem and to create a trend," said Arina Gaba, head of corporate marketing at the WWF.

Khatuna Kobiashvili, the publisher of Yoga Journal Russia -- a publication of The Moscow Times' parent company Independent Media -- said that although such a quantity of bags cannot change the environment, they will draw attention to the problem.

"Here it's not cool to be green," said Kobiashvili. "But this is a start."

The bags are to be sold from Dec. 1 to 15 at Juicy, 24 Bolshaya Nikitskaya Ul., bldg. 6, 202-7383, open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Alyona Akhmadullina is to autograph bags at Juicy on Dec. 1 from noon to 1 p.m.