Serio’s Market in Northampton prepares to stop using paper bags on Earth Day

By BRENDAN DEADY Gazette Contributing Writer
Monday, April 20, 2015 



JERREY ROBERTS
 - Anya Spector places a
customer's groceries into a cloth bag Thursday
at Serio's Market in Northampton.
NORTHAMPTON — Serio’s Market is preparing to go paper bag-free on Wednesday, the 45th annual Earth Day.

To prepare for the transition, Serio’s is expanding its involvement with the BagShare Project to have 1,000 reusable bags available at the front of the market at 65 State St. by Wednesday.

BagShare is a program aimed to replace the bulk use of disposable bags by offering cloth alternatives to customers. The project, started in Hampshire County by Leni Fried, uses volunteer sewers to make the cloth bags which are donated to stores.

When a business agrees to host a BagShare station, customers may take one of the bags with the hope that they will return it at their next visit or at any participating BagShare business.

Fried described the sewn bags as a reminder for customers to bring their own reusables as a better alternative to disposables. She added that cooperation from Serio’s customers is pivotal if the program is to make any significant change.

“We as people are so convenience-oriented,” Fried said. “If no one remembers to bring a bag back, then those (1000) will be gone in two weeks. If we as a community want this to work, we need to support Serio’s and we need to change.”

Fried said bag-sharing also brings the community together because each bag is sewn by a volunteer who may add a creative touch. They sew an identification tag into the cloth, a place where Fried said they can write their “name or poetry.”

Serio’s stopped giving plastic bags to customers in 2008 and became a partner with the BagShare Project in 2009.

Owner Gary Golec and general manager Jaimie Golec agreed to give up paper bags when one of their employees Anya Spector approached them with the idea. Spector, a senior at Northampton High, then contacted Fried about aiming to have 1,000 cloth bags ready by Earth Day.

Spector said she offered the idea because the BagShare Project already was in place and she saw an opportunity to make a small difference regarding an issue she cares about.

“I think that a lot of it is getting people thinking about their effects,” Spector said. “Even though it might seem really small at first, it all adds up. It’s a good way to get people into the mind-set to making small sacrifices that are good for the environment.”

Jaimie Golec sat on a milk crate behind the market one day last week and admitted that she and her father have concerns about the transition.

‘Social and economic duty’
“Yeah, we’re nervous, we’re working just to keep the bills and our employees paid. We can’t afford to lose a single customer ... but it’s worth it for the environment, the planet, and as a community-oriented business it’s part of our social and economic duty,” Jaimie Golec said.

Gary Golec, who sat on the tailgate of his red pickup truck, added that even though the independent markets are the ones struggling, they still make the effort to have a positive impact in their community.

“You don’t see the same things happening at chain stores,” Gary Golec said. “Businesses like us, we’re the ones doing things like this. If you like the community you live in, then support the businesses who help your community.”

Jaime said they take every opportunity to use their business as way to make a positive impact in Northampton. They phase out products that have what she described as unethical business practices. They give any local farmers or food companies a chance on their shelves.

Serio’s slogan is “Where friends are customers and customers are friends.”

“Our slogan isn’t just lip service. We really are conscious of the people we see walk in and out of here every day,” Jaimie Golec said.

While the Golecs say they fully support the transition to doing away with disposable bags, Jaimie said they still have to be realistic and accept that some customers are going to want the service they’re used to.

“There’s the reality and the fantasy of it,” Jaimie Golec said. “We can’t afford to refuse a customer a paper bag if they ask for one. We’ll keep a small stock of them but try as much as humanly possible to have customers bring reusables.”

The BagShare Project is important to the Golecs for a more personal reason. Christina A. Cavallari, who owned Serio’s with her husband Gary until she died last May 30, was a passionate supporter of the BagShare Project at the market.

“Like Leni said, there’d be days where we’d host a BagShare sewing and Chris would be the only one out there at the table with a smile on her face sewing away,” said Jaimie Golec, her stepdaughter.
Serio’s is the largest market to make the bag-free switch and the Golecs hope they can be a leader in the initiative. However, they agreed with Fried that they cannot do it alone.

“Our biggest problem is that the bags don’t really get returned,” Jaimie Golec said. “Our customers have been great in showing support but if the bags don’t make it back, they’ll be gone in a week. We can only do 50 percent of the work here. If this is going to work, everyone needs to make a little change.”

The Bagshare goes west!


Scrap opens the first bagshare location on the left coast. 



An impressive ally in Australia!!

This is one community that has their bags all in a row.

The BagShare Project goes West!

The Bagshare Project goes west to San Francisco debuting this week at SCRAP which will host its first Community sew.  SCRAP is one of the oldest Reuse Centers in the country and is soon to become a west coast hub for the BagShare! They are preparing to launch their BagShare participation on Earth Day 2014 and need to sew 500 bags in preparation.

SCRAP is a non-profit creative reuse center, materials depot, and workshop space founded in 1976 in San Francisco, California. SCRAP breathes new life into old objects and reduces waste by diverting over 200 tons of materials heading to landfill every year.

Donations of quality re-usable materials such as textiles, buttons, paper, craft and office supplies, plastics, and wood are collected from businesses, institutions, and individuals then sorted and made available to teachers, parents, artists, and organizations.

The community depends on SCRAP as the place to find all manner of materials for educational programs, creative projects, and their classrooms. By offering low cost supplies, creative reuse workshops, volunteer opportunities, educational field trips, art exhibitions, and more SCRAP gives students of all ages the opportunity to learn and pass on the value of creative reuse.


Plastic Bag Ban Under Consideration in Massachusetts!

by Juli McDonald, WWLP TV-22 News, Springfield, MA Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Paper or plastic? It's a question you might not hear for much longer here in Massachusetts. A growing number of Massachusetts communities have already banned plastic shopping bags, and now some state lawmakers are hoping to enact a single statewide ban. Environmentalists have been hoping for such a restriction; citing the fact that plastic bags don’t easily break down in dumps, and are quick to blow away and become litter.

While many communities across the country already have plastic bag bans in place, if this law passes, Massachusetts would become the first state to ban them at large retail stores.

- Read entire story on WWLP's site here. 
- Visit the site of State Rep. Lori Ehrlich, supporter of the plastic bag ban


Need Some Inspiration?

See how to actively support the Plastic Bag Ban Bill and do what you can to see it passed!

WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE PLASTIC BAGS BANNED?
Check out the fully interactive map here.


Never Forget All That the Plastic Bag Has Done for Us!
News from the BagShare and the Bagshare Sewing Center


As many of you learned from the last issue of The Goodwill Messenger, good will is spreading in the Hilltowns! The Bagshare Project out-grew the corner space at The Village Church and thanks to a suggestion from Bernie Forgea, I met with our select board to see if we could set up a sewing center in the basement of the Community House. (Get Directions on Google Maps)

We were given the go-ahead. We are calling it The Bagshare PLUS Sewing Center because The Bagshare Project is not only about sewing bags from scrap fabric. Now that we have a great space we can expand the project to include repairing our clothing and gear, sewing our own clothing, teaching sewing, repairing and maintaining sewing machines and any other "sustainability through sewing" related events.



Sewing Events

All events are free of charge. Anyone can ask to teach their own event. All ages and levels of ability are welcome. Here's the schedule 'sew' far!


4H Sewing Group
Bagshare Sewing Center
Lead by Kathy Harrison
Saturdays, 10-11 AM
Kathy teaches basic hand sewing skills and introduces our young ones to machine sewing. Call Kathy for details - 634-5631.

There will be many more classes coming! To use The Sewing Center, call Leni to get a tour first and learn about our zero waste challenge for the center. A hearty thanks to the Cummington Select Board for allowing this to happen, and another hearty thanks for our incubator space at The Village Church.



Our sewing machine repairmen hard at work at a recent repair clinic.
___________________________
BagShare Sewing Circle Schedule
Ongoing Sewing Circles in Support of the BagShare Project
No Experience Necessary • Loads of Fun!!!!

Eastworks sew: Easthampton, MA - ongoing
Space #330 at Eastworks
Second Wednesday of every month
5:15-8 p.m.
All are welcome. No sewing experience is necessary!
Contact Chris at Serios Market: 413 584-2633

Every other Friday ongoing: Northampton
The Hampshire County Jail sew
12:00-3:00. Volunteers needed:
Contact: kathryn.callahan@hsd.state.ma.us

Leeds, MA Neighborhood sew - ongoing
Third Tuesday of every month
5-8 p.m.
Contact Alisa 413 586-9123

Ongoing/Always Needed

Sew bags at home for bagshare stores.
Pick up pre-made bag kits and Leni will teach you our easy Jiffy bag design.
Call Leni or e mail her for details.
634-5591 or leni@lenifriedprintmaking.com