Modbury was the first to impose a ban
Plastic bags banned forever
In May 2007 all 43 shops in the Devon town of Modbury stopped handing out plastic carrier bags. After a six-month trial, Modbury has now become a permanent plastic bag-free zone.
The Devon town that sparked off a national movement to ban plastic shopping bags, has gone one step further by dumping plastic bags for good.
All 43 shops in Modbury joined the town-wide ban on 1 May 2007 and after a six-month trial it is becoming a permanent plastic bag-free zone.
Since then at least 50 towns, villages and cities in the UK have announced plans to bin their plastic bags.
Cartoon from plasticbagfree.com website
The town's shopkeepers are determined to do their bit for the environment by keeping the campaign going.
At the art gallery, deliveries are wrapped in second hand blankets instead of bubble wrap and at the florist's, biodegradable sheets are used instead of cellophane and raffia instead of ribbons.
In a year, butcher Simon Wilkinson will save over 100,000 carrier bags.
"It's been a fantastic success story," said Simon. "There are two other towns that are now plastic bag free and 80 towns are considering it."
The Modbury initiative was started following a suggestion by local resident Rebecca Hosking, a wildlife camerawoman.
She came up with the idea after working on a BBC-commissioned film about the effects of plastic waste on sea life around Hawaii. You can watch an extract from the film using the link on this page.
The story captured the public's imagination, and Modbury has been used as a model for others communities that want to ban plastic bags.
Rebecca has been inundated with calls from around the world including Australia, Russia and America following Modbury's ban.
But after six months in the spotlight of the world's media, Rebecca is now stepping back from the campaign to return to her career as a film-maker.
"It's been brilliant, but I want to step back," she said.
"I do pine to sit on a mountain again with the wildlife. That's me at my happiest.
"The campaign website has all the information people need and if it doesn't, then I ask people to use their commonsense.
"The reason it has spread like bush-fire is because people want it to happen.
"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."
Instead of using plastic bags, shoppers are asked to use 100% biodegradable alternatives made from corn starch, canvas, paper or cotton.
The reusable bags are imported from a small factory in Mumbai and printed in the UK using water-based organic ink.
Plastic bag 'amnesty' bins are dotted around Modbury and those collected will be recycled.
"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."
Details on how other communities can also go bag free are on the campaign's website, plasticbagfree.com
last updated: 04/12/07
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