ARGATE – The Margate Community Farmers Market, which opens this week, is becoming a BYOB or “bring your own bag” market.
Beginning next week, June 25, the market will require that patrons bring their own reusable bags and that vendors do not distribute plastic bags. Exceptions will be made for seafood, meats and iced items.
“By asking shoppers to bring their own bags, we’re hoping to reduce the number of plastic bags that find their way into the environment and ultimately the ocean,” said Cookie Till, who runs the community market. “So far, people have been very receptive to this change. They understand what we’re trying to do. As a coastal community, we need to have higher standards when it comes to protecting our environment. That responsibility comes with the privilege of living where we do.”
“All of the Downbeach communities applaud Cookie for taking the lead,” said Monica Coffey, Sustainable Margate chairperson. “More than 9 million plastic bags are generated each year by Longport, Margate and Ventnor residents alone. Sustainable Downbeach is working to educate businesses and residents of all three towns about reusable bags. To have the farmers market embrace this policy goes a long way in this effort. Our waterways, beaches and ocean are our livelihood, and we all have to do our part to protect them.”
The Surfrider Foundation is also a supporter.
“Surfrider Foundation’s ‘Rise Above Plastics’ program encourages everyone to make small changes, like using reusable bags and water bottles, rather than depending on single use plastics,” said Beth Kwart, chairwoman of the Surfrider Foundation’s South Jersey Chapter.
“Brigantine’s farmers market went plastic free this year and we are so happy Margate’s farmers market is also taking initiative to prevent plastics from harming our oceans,” Kwart said. “Plastic bags are made from oil, which is a waste of a nonrenewable resource, and cannot decompose, clogging our storm drains and ending up in the ocean where they harm wildlife. Reusable cloth bags are the best option.”
Till said the new policy, which asks vendors not to use plastic bags, just makes sense.
“We were approached by Sustainable Downbeach, which includes Margate, Ventnor, Longport green team members, asking if we’d be open to the idea and of course we said yes,” Till said. “We appreciate the support we’ve received from the vendors and we’re expecting the same level of support from the shoppers.”
The market will be open 8:30 a.m. to noon every Thursday until Sept. 3 at Steve and Cookie’s By The Bay, Amherst and Monroe avenues. A limited number of reusable bags will be available for those who forget to bring their own.