As of May 1, all 43 of the town’s traders stopped providing customers with plastic bags and will now offer them biodegradable corn-starch equivalents or reusable jute bags.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is conservation concerns and a love of wildlife rather than fears about lack of landfill space that have galvanised the townsfolk and persuaded them to take action.

The campaign to drive out the ubiquitous plastic bag was led by Rebecca Hosking, 33, a wildlife camerawoman, who decided she was going to take a stand after seeing the devastating effect of plastic waste on marine life while filming in Hawaii.

She told reporters she was moved to tears after watching a turtle choke on a plastic bag it had mistaken for a jellyfish and observed albatrosses feeding their chicks plastic scraps with fatal consequences.

The town’s shop keepers, from the smallest to the Co-op supermarket, have all agreed to support the bag ban for a six month period, after which the situation will be reviewed.

The campaigners claim that the bag ban is the first of its kind in Europe as while other states such Ireland had introduced country-wide taxes to discourage their use, there has been no blanket banning.

Despite Europe’s self-appointed role as the global leader on environmental issues, the ban will not be a world first, as several Asian and African countries have taken steps to outlaw the thin, single-use plastic bags which littered their streets and a handful have gone further, bringing in a total ban.

In the USA, where paper bags have always been the commonplace solution for getting goods home from the shops, a number of cities and towns have already introduced their own bans.

Sam Bond

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