Three months after Tisbury residents took the decision to banish plastic carrier bags a visit to the village reveals the move has been a sweeping success.
Shoppers up and down the High Street are carrying fabric bags of all colours and sizes, long-life plastic bags and baskets – a scene that is likely to be replicated as Chippenham starts talks about banning the bag too.
Pictured below (left to right): Liz Crossely Kate Farrand Margaret Howlcroft
Liz CrossleyThe Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is supporting the initiative and its Senior Waste Minimisation Officer John Sutton, is amazed at how quickly the ban has taken hold. "We were saying that it would take 12 months to really get going, but I'm so pleased to see how quickly people have responded."
Tisbury resident and De-Liz Delicatessen owner Liz Crossley says: "Tisbury has embraced the whole idea of the ban.
The deli has just put in another order for its own jute bags because people keep asking us for them. The topic has become such a hot public issue lately and now everybody knows that Tisbury is the place where you cannot get plastic bags."
At the Co-op plastic bags have been removed from the checkouts and not one person we spoke to complained about their disappearance. Customer Jenny Chivers holds her cloth M&S canvas bag up and says: "You certainly don't see many plastic bags around Tisbury anymore. I find these cloth bags easier to use because plastic splits. I always take them when I do my food shopping."
The initiative was the suggestion of the retired Bishop of Bath and Wells, John Bickersteth, who lives on the fringes of the village, 13 miles west of Salisbury. "There is no doubt the message is spreading and gaining momentum. People are keen to talk about it and practise it – even China is banning free plastic bags from June 1st."
Sandra Harry, Clerk to Tisbury Parish Council, says: "As a Parish Council we are delighted with the way things are going and the village is very lucky that the Rt. Rev. Bickersteth lives nearby and is showing the way with green initiatives such as this and community composting. Our Village Steward says there are a lot less plastic bags getting stuck on fences and in the playgrounds."
The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has supplied reusable cloth bags for sale in Tisbury, but it is clear that many people are simply digging old bags out of their cupboards.
"We always used to carry cloth shopping bags or baskets when I was young and now it's just going full circle to be more like the old days," says one resident Nancy Jones.
The village, which has a population of about 2,000 people, is set among beautiful rolling chalk down land. It's location at the centre of a large rural area designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty places it in a good position for taking a stand on the environment.
About 13 billion single-use plastic bags are distributed each year in Britain: 10 per household each week. On average, we use each plastic bag for just 12 minutes, yet they take 500 to 1,000 years to break down.
Supermarkets have committed to reducing the environmental impact of their shopping bags by 25% by the end of this year.