Modbury - a plastic bag-free zone
Town dumps plastic bags
Shopkeepers in the Devon town of Modbury are claiming a European first, by being entirely free of plastic bags. The idea has captured the imagination of communities across the UK who are now following suit.
Plastic bags have been consigned to the bin by traders in a Devon town in a bid to be more green.
All 43 shopkeepers in Modbury are taking part in the initiative, following a suggestion by a wildlife camerawoman who lives in the town.
Rebecca Hosking was moved to tears as she filmed marine life off Hawaii for the BBC2 programme, Natural World (you can watch some of the film using the link on this page).
"What really brought it home for me was one day filming a turtle," she said.
Rebecca says she just wanted to do her bit
"It had a plastic bag in its mouth and was slowly dying, there was nothing we could do.
"We were also filming albatross who were picking up plastic and feeding it to their chicks and we saw so many suffer a slow and painful death.
"I turned the camera off and just broke down crying.
"We see pretty grim things all the time, but this was man-made and it bugged me and I wanted to do something about it."
When Rebecca, 33, returned home to Modbury, she set out on a mission to turn the town plastic-bag-free and managed to convince each and every trader to get on board.
Now, towns across the UK and around the world are keen to follow Modbury's example - with at least 18 communities looking to follow suit.
"We never thought it would take off like this," Rebecca told BBC Devon. "I just wanted to do my bit for the environment, but it's just gone crazy.
"It's shown that local communities can really make a difference. The number of places wanting to take up the idea is growing every week - from Brighton to the Isle of Arran.
"I know of 18 places across the UK that are working up similar ideas including two London boroughs.
Birds are being killed by discarded rubbish
"Even the Government is now talking about introducing a 10p tax on plastic bags.
"This was a really big thing for the shops to take up - it's their business, after all.
"Now, the butchers and delicatessen are coming up with other biodegradable things, like pots to put olives and sun-dried tomatoes in, and to wrap meat up in.
"This was supposed to be a six month trial, but the butchers are already talking about getting cornstarch bags which are big enough for the turkeys at Christmas."
It's not just the small, independent traders who have embraced the initiative - the town's Co-op has also joined in. On a busy day, the store could use 500 to 1,000 plastic bags, but those days are now gone.
Tim Pearce, from Plymouth and South West Co-op, said: "We're really pleased to get behind this. It was an initiative which was started by local traders. They asked us to get involved and were delighted to do so."
The store also donated re-usable, fairtrade cotton bags which were delivered to each of Modbury's 760 households in time for the plastic bag ban, which came in on 1 May 2007.
In addition, Rod Baker from Torpoint in Cornwall has supplied nearly 2,000 large reusable cotton and jute Bags2Keep to retailers.
An amnesty bin for plastic bags
The reusable bags are imported from a small factory in Mumbai and printed in the UK using water-based organic ink.
"I was a bit of a doubting Thomas that it would come together," he said. "But all credit to Rebecca - she was so strong willed and determined.
"To get a group of independently minded people to come together for a single purpose is no mean feat."
Plastic bag amnesty bins are dotted around Modbury, and those collected will be put to good use - in being recycled for furniture made entirely out of plastic waste.
The story has really captured the public's imagination, and Modbury has been inundated by the world's media.
Rebecca's phone has also been red hot: "Other towns are saying 'will Rebecca bring her film to our town.'
"But I think the reason this has worked in Modbury is because I am local and people know me.
"If other towns are to do this, the message has to come from someone who lives in the local community.
"But it's absolutely amazing what we've started here."
Watch some of Rebecca's film using the link on this page. There is also a link to the Modbury - Plastic Bag Free Town website.
If you want more information then visit www.plasticbagfree.com
last updated: 02/11/07
Have Your Say
What do you think about Rebecca's initiative and the way it has taken off? Have your say here and read other people's messages.
Rebecca Hosking in Modbury
Tony Langham. Mr
john r, welwyn
Edward Kellow, LEAD International
Angela Warwick, Lostwithiel.
Cllr. Lady Atkins
Rosie P Irvine (Rosemary Sandey)
Richard JC English
Peter R. Bowers
Edward Steen ( journalist)
irene denise double
Jane Hosking in Tavistock, Devon
Pip Richards-The Sustainable Trust
Jesse from Los Angeles
Ernst H. Schoernig
Daphne Lewis, Lancashire
Jemma Murphy age 10
Mark reeves age 11
Jill Sutton, BagAge
TW from KINGSBRIDGE
Mollie from Epsom Surrey
Local people share their experiences of life in Devon.
From moor to shore - out and about in Devon's great outdoors