Group aims to make Kingsbridge plastic bag free

By Nigel Walrond   |   Sports Editor   |
Wednesday 11th May 2016 11:11 am
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Plastic bags get into the water and litter beaches and hedges (Rod Birtles)

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A GROUP of Kingsbridge residents have got together to encourage the town to go plastic carrier bag free.

Plastic Bag Free KB’s founder, Helen Petit said: ‘We wanted to join our neighbours in Modbury, who went plastic bag free more than ten years ago.’

Helen has been working for three years to see if the initiative could be introduced in Kingsbridge. Research conducted by the group found that, on average, more than 450 bags are given out by Kingsbridge shopkeepers every day.

That amounts to 2,700 every week, or 135,000 every year - enough to reach Buckfastleigh and back! One week’s bags would be enough to cover half a rugby pitch.

The recent changes in the law have seen larger chains charging 5p for their bags and donating the money to charity.

Shops that do this have seen a significant drop in the number of bags that they hand out. And smaller shops have also seen a drop in requests for bags.

While single-use carrier bags form a small proportion of total plastic waste, they create problems when they start to break down into smaller pieces and get into the water system.

Fish and other marine life ingest this plastic, and it can end up in our food chain. Bags are also light and blow away, littering hedgerows and beaches.

‘Plastic bags spoil the Devon countryside that we are all so proud of,’ said Helen.

‘If we could stop using them in Kingsbridge, we would significantly improve our environment, which is so important for our wellbeing and for the local tourism industry.’

Several Kingsbridge retailers are already plastic bag free, including Healthwise, Mange Tout, the Art Café, Holland and Barrett, Oxfam, Go Mobile, Bella Borsa and Lemon Velvet.

Irene Jeeninga from Healthwise said: ‘We have been plastic bag free for the last four years. We only give out paper bags and encourage people to bring their own bags.

‘Plastic bags end up in landfill and also on the beaches and in the ocean.’

Shopkeepers are now being encouraged to do their bit by asking whether customers really need a plastic bag.

Plastic Bag Free KB will be at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, May 21, to ask shoppers if they would support Kingsbridge going plastic carrier bag free, and provide information about the campaign.

Helen said: ‘Please come and let us know what you think.’

For more information, email plasticbagfree[email protected].

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