Jacqui Poole has written to all the local supermarkets encouraging them to eliminate giving out free carrier bags. Jacqui has the support of BSG, Bideford Quakers and the North Devon Green Party; in her own words she writes about what motivated her to action:-
MY POSITION RE FREE PLASTIC BAGS
My letter to our four main supermarkets in Bideford was stimulated, I suppose, by exasperation! I found out some years ago about the existence in the Pacific Ocean of an area larger than France covered in plastic.
Since then, I've learnt about the devastating effects of plastic on marine life, the fact that plastic doesn't disintegrate but breaks down into small particles which are then ingested by sea creatures and I've understood that there's a fear that these toxic chemicals are entering the food chain. The coastline in the UK is littered with the stuff - and, in many places it's far, far worse. We seem gradually, or not so gradually, to be intent on destroying not just the habitat of marine life but our own.
Our government knows these facts and, presumably, far more information is at its fingertips. According to an article in The Guardian this January, they promised in 2012 to insist on a charge for plastic bags. They haven't done so.
So, in this state of heightened awareness, I've stood in queues in all our supermarkets over the past few months and watched customers in front of me accept the offer of plastic bags without 'turning a hair' - how many more would you like? Five? Fine.
- And I think: We're supposedly the most intelligent species on the planet - and yet we seem intent on our own extinction (plastic bags, of course, being only one symptom of this lemming-like behaviour).
Far from 'blaming' the people who are accepting the proffered items, I feel immensely saddened - We lack leadership! At best we're getting mixed messages: 'plastic is very bad for the environment' in one breath, and 'here you are; how many of these noxious items would you like? We're giving them out free!'
I think the general public can be excused for being confused, for thinking: 'surely, if the government believed the information that filters through to us one way and another about the disastrous effects of plastic, then they wouldn't allow it to be given out freely. Indeed, they wouldn't allow people to make the things. They'd put a stop to it! So, presumably, it can't be as bad as all that. There must be disagreement amongst the experts.'
Well, there isn't disagreement among the experts - far from it. SO, since no leadership on this issue is coming from the top, then we, the citizens, have to take the matter into our own hands and, at least, try to do something about it. HENCE THE LETTER.
The Letter Jacqui Wrote
Wednesday, 6th February, 2013
Dear Ms Hubbard,
I am writing to you with two hats on: one of them is as a member of the Bideford Sustainability Group; the other is as a member of Bideford Quakers.
My purpose in writing, as a representative from these two groups, is this: we would very much like to make Bideford a plastic-carrier-bag-free-zone and we have a proposition for you:
If we took it upon ourselves to get the agreement of the managers of all the supermarkets in the Bideford area to set a date when free plastic carrier bags would no longer be available to your customers, is this something you would be prepared to consider?
You are, of course, aware of all the problems associated with the growing pollution of the environment and the changing climate. We know that getting rid of free plastic carrier bags is in one sense a 'drop in the ocean'. However, in another, very real sense, it would be a fantastic beginning to a campaign for our local community; you would be taking the lead in what could become a 'sea change' for us all. As you know, other communities have already gone down this road and succeeded, Modbury in Devon being one.
I'm sure I don't need to remind you that, as of now, there is a growing area in the Pacific Ocean, about the size of Texas, covered with plastic - and we continue to contribute to it! Your help and support would be so much appreciated - indeed, we clearly can't do it without you.
Could I make an appointment to come and see you? I would come with a draft 'agreement', making it clear that it would only be valid if all supermarkets in the area had signed up to it.
I very much look forward to hearing from you.
Yours very sincerely,
Jacqui Poole (Mrs)
cc. The North Devon Journal
Enc. Article from The Guardian, 15.1.2013
We, the undersigned, hereby agree that we will ensure that carrier bags are no longer provided to our customers from Monday, 6th May, 2013.
This agreement is only valid if the managers of all the following supermarkets in the Bideford Area are signatories to it:
Asda, Co-op, Morrisons, Tesco