Bag-Free News

Naila Moreira: Plastic bag ban in Northampton ‘necessary, but not sufficient’
    JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Leni Fried, front, of Cummington, who is the founder of Bagshare, uses a grommet press to make a reusable shopping bag from a malt bag as Diane Drohan, left, and Heather King watch Tuesday at Northampton Survival Center. Drohan is the center's volunteer coordinator. King is a frequent volunteer at the center who lives in Florence.
    Leni Fried, front, of Cummington, who is the founder of Bagshare, uses a grommet press to make a reusable shopping bag from a malt bag as Diane Drohan, left, and Heather King watch Tuesday at Northampton Survival Center. Drohan is the center's volunteer coordinator. King is a frequent volunteer at the center who lives in Florence. Purchase photo reprints »

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

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

 - 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.”

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!

Check out the fully interactive map here.

Never Forget All That the Plastic Bag Has Done for Us!

Bag-Shares Around the World
I recently returned from Nicaragua after spending a week in Amherst’s sister city, La Paz Centro with a group of students and adults.   We did various inspiration to do this and carry it to another part of the world.   Hope you can open the pictures.   The logo on the bag says Barrio Bonito (Beautiful Neighborhood).   ~ Nancy 

News from the Corporate World
Sometimes it seems like too big a cultural leap to expect customers to bring their own bags, but we're starting to hear more and more stories of retailers - small, big and sometimes GIGANTIC - taking the leap and landing on their feet. Here are some examples:

Costco's Bring Your Own Bag Policy - Besides offering a wide variety of goods, including many whole food items, the (Costco) chain does not give either paper or plastic shopping bags to sack groceries. Customers have to bring these themselves.

Want to Kick the Plastic Habit for Good?
Check out Beth Terry's blog "Plastic Free Guide" with over 100 tips, musings and ideas for cutting plastic out of your life entirely!