LMV visited the village of Modbury in Devon today to investigate how they managed to pass a ban on plastic bags. In 2007, Rebecca Hosking, a former BBC wildlife photographer, returned to the village, her hometown, after a visit to Hawaii documenting the effects of plastics on the environment there. The horrific she saw galvanised her into action. Over a beer or two with the local delicatessen owner Adam Searle and their respective partners, Rebecca and co. decided to make Modbury plastic bag free. They began by gathering all the village’s 43 shop owners at the Brownston gallery owned by Sue Sturton, another supporter of the project, and showed them Rebecca’s documentary ‘Message in the Waves’. The images of turtles choking on plastic bags and dead albatross chicks with stomachs filled with plastic was enough to make everyone agree on a 6 month trial of banning disposable plastic bags.
The trial was such a success Modbury remains single-use plastic bag free today. Shopkeepers use a combination of corn-starch based plastic bags, renewable bags, and paper bags as alternatives. What they have discovered though is that fewer people over the years are buying the 10p starch-plastic bags and are bringing their own. LMV interviewed both Sue and Adam in our visit and both had said that public opinion was, from the very beginning, behind the ban. Adam said he was using 200+ conventional plastic bags a week before the ban and now he barely sells 5 a month of the alternatives (LMV director Edward Scott-Clarke bought 5 at once to show other people so numbers are slightly higher this month).
The simple question is, if it was so easy to do in Modbury then why not the rest of the country? With Italy recently introducing its nation-wide ban and France already virtually plastic-bag free, the UK is lagging behind. LMV is doing its best to reintroduce a ban in Tisbury in Wiltshire, which fell through months after its introduction. The results of this campaign will be shown in our film, due to be released at the end of the year.