KEEPING Marlow looking fabulous is important to maintaining its status as a go-to town, according to a supermarket manager whose staff rallied round at the weekend to clamp down on plastic bags.

Jan Moore of Sainsbury’s on West Street said it is vital that people think responsibly about re-using plastic bags, which destroy the environment and litter the town.

And he said he was pleased with Marlovians’ attitude towards recycling during a weekend event handing out thousands of free ‘Bags for Life’ in conjunction with the town council which saw disposable bag use drop by 40 per cent.

He said: "It went really well, we had lots of good feedback and we got the chance to talk to a lot of our customers about what we are trying to do.

"What we want to do, and the right thing to do, is to be responsible with bag use. The main point was to encourage people to reuse bags and use a Bag for Life.

"Normal carrier bag use went down by 40 per cent over the weekend which is fantastic and people were going away a bit more aware of the situation and what they can do.

"We are keen to have strong links with the community, to work with people here and have respect for the area.

"We are aware of how damaging discarded bags can be to the town, there are a lot of tourists coming here and it is such a pretty town we don’t want carrier bags clogging it up and blowing around in the street."

17 billion bags are given away per year in the UK, with the average life of each bag only 20 minutes before it is thrown away.

And loose bags are often cited as the major culprits during volunteer-led litter picks around Marlow.

Sainsbury’s free Bag For Life giveaway was the second of its kind since Marlow Town Council launched its ten-point ‘Vision’ plan last year.

An event at Waitrose last October saw over 8000 reusable bags handed out to customers, as councillors try to clamp down on the scourge of reusable bags as part of the environmental section of its multi-tiered town improvement project.

At both events, town councillors were on hand to talk to customers about their recycling habits and help residents recycle unwanted packaging.

M&S also pitched in, giving a reusable bag away to the first 100 customers to request one during its promotional week.

Former Mayor Jocelyn Towns, who masterminded the project, lauded this weekend’s scheme as a success.

She said: "Sainsbury’s working with Marlow Town Council were delighted to support this Vision initiative. They understand how important it is to raise awareness of the damage caused by unwanted plastic bags.

"The Sainsbury’s team were really happy with the engagement of residents, a large number arriving with their own bags to shop with. I can only praise the Sainsbury’s team for their involvement with the Town Council in raising the awareness of the impact of plastic on our town.

"We only own a plastic bag for such a short time, as long as it takes to carry goods home from the shops, so 10 minutes for us but hundreds of years for the planet.

"If we regularly use our ‘bags for life’ we can cut down on the number of plastic bags needed. Locally we can help to build awareness to keep our roads and river clear of plastic."