Collingswood Farmers’ Market looks to reduce plastic bags
Bag Reduction Program for 2016 is multi-pronged approach to encourage sustainable options

Collingswood, one of the greenest towns in the region, is taking a few more steps toward sustainability at one of its most loved events. The 2016 season of the Collingswood Farmers’ Market will include a new “bag reduction” initiative with the aim of curbing the use of single use plastic bags at the Market.

While not outright banning the use of plastic bags, the Market and its partners will offer several sustainable options to environmentally conscious shoppers on Saturday mornings. The effort will include a “bag share” in which customers can borrow a multiuse bag, reusable bag sales that support the Market and can be brought each week by regular customers, brown paper bag distribution supported by sponsors and brown paper bag sales, making recycled bags available and other creative ideas like t-shirt bag craft events.

“We’ll offer as many alternatives to single-use disposable plastic bags as possible, the ultimate effect of which could ultimately be a voluntary reduction to zero of plastic bags,” said Collingswood Farmers’ Market Director David Hodges. ”We don’t want to burden vendors or shoppers, but we do want to support their civic initiative as far as they’re willing.”

Bag reduction Initiatives for 2016: How can you help reduce single use plastic at the Market?

Friends of the Farmers’ Market will provide a supply of envirosac reusable Market bags as part of a “lending library” of bags for Market guests. The program will operate from the Market’s Veggie Valet tent. Simply ask to borrow a bag and return it when you come back!

“Collingswood’s sense of community, volunteerism and commitment to environmental stewardship is the inspiration for the plan to create a resource for borrowing reusable bags,” said Friends of the Farmers’ Market organizer Tricia Burrough. “We all have good intentions but busy people can be forgetful. The Market’s bag share program will hopefully help those not used to using a reusable bag to see the ease and benefit of doing so.”

The Market and Friends of the Farmers’ Market will also sell reusable bags for those that want to invest in a long term, durable reuse option. $10 Market branded eco bags are washable, fold for easy storage, hold heavy loads, and typically last several seasons.

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As an eco-friendlier alternative to single-use plastic, the Market will provide handled, brown paper bags to shoppers. Market sponsor Audubon Savings Bank will provide patrons with 10,000 bags free to support the Markets’ plastic reduction goal.

“Audubon Savings Bank is pleased to promote the use of reusable bags to help limit the negative effect of plastic bags on our environment. We can all make a real difference by choosing a reusable option,” said Ken Stephon, President of Audubon Savings Bank.

Paper shopping bags will also be available to guests for just 50 cents later in the season.

Through customer donations and second-use plastic, the Market will be a drop-off site for once-used retail bags (that are likely collecting in your kitchen right now). Clean, sound bags will be available to shoppers free of charge. Bags not deemed worthy of a second use will be recycled.

T-shirts can be fashioned into simple shopping bags quickly and without sewing, using just a pair of scissors! Local crafters, Market sponsor Liberti Church and other non-profit partners have offered to host a “t shirt bag craft” activity every weekend at the Market. Shoppers can purchase ready-made t-shirt bags, bring their own t-shirts for recycling, or join the fun in turning their own cast off garments into reusable shopping bags.

“Roughly 5,000 people visit the Collingswood Farmers’ Market each week from May through November. Even one throwaway plastic bag per person adds a lot of trash to the waste stream,” said Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley. “This is about changing the culture at the Market and helping make it easy for people to make a more sustainable choice while in Collingswood.”

“Every year Collingswood takes another step toward greening up our activities and this is such a great initiative,” said Collingswood Commissioner Joan Leonard. “Together we make great changes happen.”