By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
February 24, 2017
ADAMS, Mass. — The town of Adams is setting a challenge: to create 8,400 recycled shopping bags by Earth Day on April 22.
The local BagShare Project uses recycled materials — mainly plastic woven feed bags and used irrigation tubing — to create free reusable bags for consumer use. Brought to North Berkshire by Leni Fried and Mike Augspurger of the Old Stone Mill, the town's taken up the challenge to create a sustainable bag for every resident in Adams ahead of the plastic bag ban that goes into effect on March 30 for larger retailers.
"As most of you know, the bag ban was voted last year ... primarily large retailers will not be able to give out plastic bags," said Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco at Tuesday's Arts Advisory Board reception. "It's great environmental progress for the town of Adams and some communities far wealthier and more progressive than the town of Adams have failed to do this so far."
The town and the Adams Arts Advisory Board, in conjunction with the Old Stone Mill, is calling on organizations, businesses, colleges, civic groups, schools, neighborhoods, congregations and individuals to pledge to make 120 bags. It's not just for Adams — anyone interested in helping out can join. Mazzucco said the town's employees are challenging North Adams to make bags.
While the goal is to make enough bags for the population of Adams, anyone can make bags for their families or friends or co-workers. The BagShare Project dates to 2007 and is the brainchild of Fried, who began teaching groups how to sew them in the Cummington area. According to the website, some 15,000 recycled bags have been made from fabric, canvas and woven plastic.
The Old Creamery in Cummington became one of the first stores to stock the free bags and donated recycled totes. The store was using 49,000 paper bags annually; since 2009, it's been offering boxes or free bags and is saving about $5,000 annually.
The Fire House Cafe on Park Street, now the home of the Adams Anthony Center, has been hosting workshops on how to make bags. It will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, for anyone interested in learning about the project or who wants to make bags. Francie Anne Riley of the advisory board explained that the bags are mainly made from feed, bird seed or malt bags, including donations from Bright Ideas Brewery. The bags are cut, folded and grommeted with irrigation tubing handles. Bill Kolis, owner of the cafe, said they hold 50 to 100 pounds and last forever.
"What you have is something a little bit bigger than a paper grocery bag, it's made of that woven plastic so you can hose them out when they get dirty," Riley said. "They're fun, they've got pretty cool designs on them from the different grains. ... There are pictures on them depending what they were used for."
The firehouse already has a pile of bags of various sizes, but anyone can bring their own materials.
"It's really quite simple to do, a bag probably takes 10 minutes to put together," Riley said. "When you think about keeping stuff like that out of landfills, it's wonderful.
" Those interested in the challenge can pick up a pledge form at Town Hall or sign up online here.
In addition to the firehouse workshops, Fried can be contacted at email@example.com or 413-634-5591 to set up a bag-making event at the Old Stone Mill. "Given the farms we currently have in the community and our agricultural history, it ties in very well to who we are and what we're trying to do," Mazzucco said.