Category: Shopping bags

The travels of the container ship Cosco Pacific

This is the ship that brought our shopping bags from China (where they were made) to the UK (where we are located, and from where we send them to you!) in 2011.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia. Click for original source.

As part of our mission series on Mission:Explore (where you can earn a ‘champion shopper’ badge), we’re asking people to check where it is on this ship tracking website.

The idea is that ‘shoppers’ do this over a period of weeks or months and send us the location (if you want to do this now, just paste its latitude and longitude into a comment on this post). We then pin – with a ladybird – each spotting on the map below and add your name as the spotter. Ian has started this off with a ladybird that shows the ship leaving the southern end of the Suez Canal.

Together, we can map it’s travels. What route does it use to get from here to there and back? Please check back…


You will notice that we have added an extra icon to the map: a ghostly sunken ladybird. These mark the locations of some container ships that have caught fire or sunk during the course of this project. Click these icons, see the wrecks and find out more about the dangers of container shipping.

Inspirations for ladybugging

About a year ago, we started to cut the ladybirds from our shopping bags and let them fly away to ask questions of other commodities in shopping and other spaces. Some of our first experiments were undertaken in Paris in March 2012. Click the slideshow photos for the captions:

@followthethings ladybirds love to spend time in Paris, and wanted to go there ever since they saw this video about a grafitti artist and his work there:

Swarms of @followthethings ladybird are expected to migrate to Paris in March this year…

GA delegates: what to do with your ftt shopping bag?

Our shopping bags are the conference bags for this week’s Geographical Association conference in Manchester. They have many uses:
– You can use them like normal conference or shopping bags;
– You can photograph them full, research their contents, and upload the results to our Flickr group like this;
– You can cut a ladybird out of your bag (patch up the hole) and do some ‘ladybugging’ (e.g. 1 2);
– You can try our 3 (soon to be 6) shopping-bag missions on Mission:Explore;
– You can submit a lesson plan in which your students use our site (like this one), and we’ll send you enough bags for your whole class.

Craft work with shopping bags.

Click to download guide.


If you have one of our shopping bags, why not release its ladybirds, and repair your bag with an appropriate patch?

Personalise your bag!

Customise your bag!

And then show and tell us what you’ve done.

If you want to know more, you can download our short ‘make do and mend’ booklet by clicking the photo on the left.

The patch in our prototype bag is taken from an audit report of the factory in which it was made.

School teachers: send us an ftt lesson plan and get 50 ftt shopping bags

A paper mockup of our bag

We’re keen for school teachers to use, to produce lesson plans which encourage school students to learn from the site, and to make those lesson plans available to other teachers via this blog.

If you are planning to do this, we can send you a box of 50 reusable shopping bags – made in the same Chinese factory as those of the UK’s major supermarkets – to give to your students, colleagues and friends.

We want our shoppers to take photos of these bags full of shopping, upload them to our Flickr page, locate them on a map, and add some comments about where they went and what they bought. The map will fill up (we’re planning to send them all over the world), the comments will be fascinating to read, and there may be much to discuss.

If you’re interested, please get in touch with us at .

We expect them to be delivered to us in 6-8 weeks time.