Exmouth green grocers’ anti plastic pledge

PUBLISHED: 12:29 29 March 2018

Sharon Jenkins and Merle Spey of The Farm Shop with their muslin and paper bags. Ref exe 13 18TI 0121. Picture: Terry Ife

Sharon Jenkins and Merle Spey of The Farm Shop with their muslin and paper bags. Ref exe 13 18TI 0121. Picture: Terry Ife

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An Exmouth eco-warrior hopes a new green initiative she has pioneered can lead to a town-wide plastic purge.

Sharon Jenkins and Merle Spey of The Farm Shop with their muslin and paper bags. Ref exe 13 18TI 0121. Picture: Terry IfeSharon Jenkins and Merle Spey of The Farm Shop with their muslin and paper bags. Ref exe 13 18TI 0121. Picture: Terry Ife

Sharon Jenkins, 62, of Bicton Place, has launched a scheme to reduce the amount of single-use plastics used at The Farm Shop, in The Magnolia Centre, where she works.

Until recently, the business relied on plastics for packaging people’s fruit and vegetables.

But Sharon, who has worked there since the business opened in 2013, has convinced manager Gez Reilly to make the switch to more environmentally-friendly bags.

She said: “There are certainly things where we have to use plastic.

“Because I have worked here for such a long time, I was getting more down as people were asking for plastic bags when they already had bags.”

When the five pence charge for plastic bags came in at the end of 2015, staff including Sharon started ‘badgering’ Gez to register the company as part of the scheme and donate the proceeds to charity.

According to Sharon, this saw a shift in people’s attitudes and, in December last year, she started buying in paper bags and introducing them for mushrooms.

As these proved popular, she moved on to creating muslin and cotton bags to sell in the shop, which have also been a success.

Sharon also said that fruit and vegetables like mushrooms and bananas ‘love’ the new muslin and cotton bags as they ‘tended to sweat’ in plastic.

Gez has since decided to buy in paper bags on a regular basis, replacing the plastic ones completely.

“Most people love the fact that we have got paper bags and love the muslin bags,” said Sharon.

The shop still uses plastic punnets for display, but Sharon said they now reuse them as much as possible and transfer the fruit to paper, cotton or muslin bags for customers.

Sharon told the Journal that getting more traders to adopt the plastic-free scheme is the ‘main aim’ of what she is doing and would make her efforts ‘worthwhile’.

She added: “People need to be educated and this should be taught in schools - these children come shopping and they have a voice. This is their future.”

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