I had the good fortune to live in France for many years before returning to Northern Ireland in 2007 to help look after an elderly relative.
Around 2005 the French dealt effectively with the problem of plastic shopping bags, which is the subject of current debate here in the Province.
They were suffering from litter and other problems, so the major supermarkets gave notice that they were replacing them with larger, reusable plastic bags with strong canvas handles. And they even built in little restraining straps to hold their essential bottles of wine in an upright position.
Customers were invited to purchase these large bags for a nominal sum of around 50 pence.
The bottoms were stamped with the date of purchase and the supermarkets undertook to replace them free of charge when they became unusable due to fair wear and tear.
My wife and I bought four, used them weekly in France for two years, brought them home to Northern Ireland and have used them continually for the past four years. They remain in as good condition as the day we bought them and I can only hazard a guess at how many of the flimsier variety we consequently haven't used.