On Saturday October 13th, shoppers in the George Street area of Hove were surprised to be offered home-made reusable shopping bags in return for a pledge to turn down at least ten plastic carrier bags over the following month.
It was part of a project called InTheBag which Rachel Papworth, from Bonchurch Road, has been running as part of a personal development course with Landmark Education (www.landmarkeducation.com). The course requires participants to run a project that inspires them and Rachel saw an opportunity to address the damage plastic carrier bags do to the environment. She says “Every year, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals, like sea turtles and whales, mistake plastic bags for food and die an agonising
death, from choking or blocked intestines. After their bodies have decomposed, the plastic is free to be ingested again. Plastic bags are a major source of litter and precious non-renewable resources are used in their manufacture, transport and disposal”.
InTheBag is designed to inspire local residents to make a commitment to reduce their use of plastic carrier bags and is a Brighton & Hove contribution to an international project. Morsbags (www.morsbags.com) was set up by Pol Morsman, from London, to get groups (or “pods”) of people around the world making reusable shopping bags from waste fabric.
Between July and October, Rachel has been getting together with groups of friends and family for sewing sessions while Pam Chapman, from Southampton Street, spotted one of Rachel’s requests for resources on freecycle and volunteered to produce about 20 bags with her friends. The groups have made over 120 bags so far, using resources (fabric, thread, loans of sewing machines, iron-on labels to put the morsbags URL on the bags) gathered mostly from freecycle (www.freecycle.org). The youngest bag-maker to date was eight and the oldest 66. Three generations of Rachel’s family sewed together. Rachel says “I was blown away by the response to the project both from my friends and family and from Brighton’s incredible freecycle community”.