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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 April 2007, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
No plastic bags in town's shops
Ty Freeman

Traders in a Devon market town claim they will be the first in Europe to be entirely free of plastic bags.

All 43 traders and shopkeepers in Modbury - from small family traders to the local Co-op - will stop providing plastic bags to customers from 1 May.

Shoppers will get 100% biodegradable cornstarch bags, recyclable paper bags or reusable cotton and jute bags, supplied by a company from Cornwall.

The idea was the brainchild of a wildlife camerawoman from the town.

Rebecca Hosking said when she was filming off Hawaii, she was moved to tears by the impact of plastic rubbish on marine life.

To get a group of independently minded people to come together for a single purpose is no mean feat
Rod Baker, Bags2Keep

"What really brought it home for me was one day filming a turtle," she said.

"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."

When the 33-year-old 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.

Rod Baker from Torpoint in Cornwall has supplied nearly 2,000 of the large reusable cotton and jute Bags2Keep to retailers.

Six-month trial

The reusable bags are imported from a small factory in Mumbai and printed in the UK using water-based organic ink.

He was approached by Modbury trader Helen Pickles at a local trade fair and invited to talk to Ms Hosking and the town's other retailers.

"I was a bit of a doubting Thomas that it would come together," he told BBC News.

"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."

The plastic bag ban will begin on Tuesday, 1 May and continue for a minimum of six months.

How shops are coping with the new rules

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