Ms. Milwe, one of the curators to this show, was one of the 4 Westport RTM members that spearheaded the movement to ban plastic bags in Westport, Connecticut. There were 3 communities that had an impact on the Westport, Connecticut ordinance. Each community had a leader that initiated a grassroots movement to ban plastic bags.


If we use a cloth bag, we can save 6 bags a week
That's 24 bags a month
That's 288 bags a year
That's 22,176 bags in an avg. life time
If just 1 out of 5 people in our country did this we would save 1,330,560,000,000 bags over our lifetime

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Click here to see where plastic bags have been banned in the USA and worldwide


Four communities making a difference:

The In The Bag show highlights some of the first leaders in the world that banned plastic bags in their towns. These individuals took a stand in their communities, encouraging citizens to change individual behavior to make a difference for a better environment. 


Ben Kearney - Coles Bay, Tasmania

In April 2003, the tiny Australian community of Coles Bay, Tasmania, with 200 residents and an annual influx of 200,000 tourists, became the first place on earth to officially ban plastic check-out shopping bags. Led by local bakery owner Ben Kearney, Coles Bay's four retailers worked with the environmental group Planet Ark to bring about the ban and create reusable cloth and strong paper bags to help protect whales annually migrating along Tasmania's eastern seaboard. Within the ban's first year, their effort stopped the use of estimated 350,000 plastic check-out bags. Other communities in Australia followed suit, and Coles Bay was awarded the Environmental Excellence Award by the Tasmanian Government.

Rebecca Hoskins - Modbury, England

In April 2007, the small seaside town of Modbury, England, became the first place in Europe to ban plastic check-out bags. About 13 billion plastic bags were given away annually in Britain, of which wight billion ended up in landfills, with many others blown out to sea. After visiting Hawaii and witnessing hundreds of albatross chicks dying from swallowing plastic debris floating on the seas, Modbury filmmaker and passionate conservationist Rebecca Hoskins made a documentary for the BBC called Message in the Waves. After previewing the program, Modbury's retailers were so shocked that they decided to ban plastic shopping bags. To learn more about Modbury's ban, go to

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Heather Riley - Paia, Hawaii

Avid windsurfer Heather Railey had long witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of plastic detritus n the oceans, killing waterfowl and marine animals and littering coastal landscapes. after seeing Rebecca Hoskins' Message in the Waves and the success of the movement in England, she decided to take action herself. She pitched her plastic-free ideas to local merchants in mid-2007 and more than ninety-three of them voluntarily followed her lead. As a result, an estimated 468,000 plastic bags have since been kept out of the oceans, trees, and landfills annually. Additionally, the Paia initiative has inspired the entire island of Maui (where Paia is located) to officially ban disposable plastic bags, effective January 2011.


Jonathan Cunitz, Liz Milwe, Gene Seidman, Jeffrey Wieser - RTM District 4 - Westport, CT

In 2008, Don Wergeles and Mel Sorcher, two residents of Westport, CT, went to their Representative Town Meeting (RTM) members and proposed the idea of banning the use of plastic retail checkout bags locally. After months of research and meetings with town leaders, merchants, students and residents, RTM members Jonathan Cunitz, Liz Milwe, Gene Seidman and Jeffrey Wieser succeeded in generating overwhelming support for ordinance banning plastic checkout bags, earning the four representatives a 2009 EPA Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Westport has now become one of the first communities east of California to pass a ban on retail checkout bags and has triggered a town-wide effort to provide new leadership and solutions to protect the environment. The towns effort were the inspiration for this show about the art and politics of the reusable bag movement.