Small Town Follows Big City Lead

Monday, April 30, 2007
Recently, San Francisco announced that they would do away with plastic grocery/shopping bags in an attempt for the city to become "greener" (or is it more green?). Well, it seems the trend is continuing. The small market town of Modbury, UK (in Devon - Southern UK for those of us not from there) is following in San Fran's footsteps and all 43 traders and shopkeepers in town - from small family traders to the local Co-op - will stop providing plastic bags to customers beginning in May.

The move was spearheaded by a local woman who, while on vacation in Hawaii, shot footage of dolphins trapped in plastic shopping bags. Instead of filling up non-biodegradable plastic bags with their goodies, local retailers are providing shoppers with 100% biodegradable cornstarch bags, recyclable paper bags or reusable cotton and jute bags. I managed to catch the television report on this as well and they interviewed a local butcher who has also switched to nonwaxed paper in which to wrap his sausages and chops in. He reportedly was going through 50,000 plastic bags a year!


Jocelyn said...

And doesn't it make perfect sense? I drag canvas bags everywhere, and I hate it when I forget and am relegated to using plastic. Worse yet, there's the whole putting vegetables into small plastic bags before then putting them into larger plastic bags. Sheesh.

Gerard said...

My research of scientific studies on ocean pollution shows that the plastic bags dolphins and other animals are caught up in tend to be bait bags from the fishing industry and plastic bags associated with disposal of waste at sea - NOT shopping bags. When you come to think of it - for shopping bags to be involved they need to get into the ocean - which means that someone needs to have littered them which does not equate with normal and responsible bag use. bannin g or taxing shopping bags does nothing to help marine animals. Using alternatives such as cotton bags may be more environmentally damaging for a wide range of reasons - including their production and weight in transit.

Gerard, Sydney, Australia

Red said...

I must have collected several dozen (dare I say hundreds?) plastic bags over the past few years, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I had to ask a shop to supply me with another, because I always carry my own (recycled) bags with me.

Gerard, I agree with you that marine animals have probably got bigger problems than the average littering plastic bag (discarded nets, for instance), but what is this "normal and responsible bag use" you speak of? Because on my travels I have often seen plastic bags floating on rivers and creeks, and I have also seen plastic bags on Mediterranean beaches after heavy storms, so I wouldn't be surprised if some of them made their way to the open seas.

Karen said...

I have to agree with Red. Gerard makes a very good point about the threat to marine animals. However, just walking down the street on a windy day you can see empty discarded plastic bags flying through the air and travelling quite a distance. It wouldn't be much of a stretch for them to enter our river systems and/or wind up on beaches and therefore beaches and oceans. Plastic is the work of the devil :)

Wandering Coyote said...

Rossland is considering banning plastic bags, too. The reality is, no matter where the plastic bags wind up - whether in the ocean or in a landfill - they are bad news for the environment.

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