Sharing is Caring

We were honoured to be invited to Alderney this month, to help the local Plastic Free Communities team build on the brilliant work they have started on the island.

Situated three miles off the coast of France and one of the more isolated of the Channel Islands, it was interesting to see the challenges facing the community as it goes about reducing its impact.  We were pleased to be able to offer support but also learn – as in a community of two thousand people on a chunk of land just three miles by one, every challenge and success is acutely felt and played out.

Alderney Wildlife Trust is doing a fantastic job of pulling together businesses and raising awareness of the plastic pollution problem on its shores.  Helping out on one of the Trust’s regular beach cleans it was heartening to see a dedicated team of volunteers and that not every cove and cranny was suffering from marine litter. But the plastic pollution problem was borne out in a host of other ways.

The issue of packaging from suppliers and the cost of getting deliveries onto the island meant some of the swaps we find easier on the mainland are trickier and slower to take force. The logistics of waste management on an island meant a stark picture of the challenges all communities in the UK face; we are creating too much rubbish to deal with. Things like recycling and composting needed to be improved and existing facilities were worrying, with the island’s recycling centre and tip both yards from the sea (on the quay and on a cliff top respectively)

 

Then there was the heart-breaking sight of the Gannet colonies situated just off the island, which are home to over 18,000 of the birds and where nests were being made from plastic  Mainly fishing net, but also plastic bags. Ironically the longevity of these nests could be one reason for a growing gannet population … but it is also responsible for deaths and not something that’s pleasant to see. Human’s carelessness, forcing nature to adapt.

 

 

Depressed? Well don’t be, because this island is determined to change things.  In a move to push existing initiatives further we were invited to hold business and community workshops to support work to raise awareness and foster more involvement from decision makers. We talked about bulk buying to tackle supplier and cost issues, a new waste management group, new recycling centres and awareness, a community composter and work to help the island become truly single-use plastic free. A bastian of refill and reuse!

Because with all of these challenges comes a unique opportunity. To carve out a new way of working, living and communicating which could be an example to the rest of the UK, even the world! Watch this small community closely.  They are on course to be a pretty awesome example of how we all have power to act and turn around the negative impact we are having on our world.

Plastic Free Pirates

We’re delighted to welcome the Cornish Pirates on board as our latest Community Ally, as the club aims to become a Plastic Free Champion!

The Championship rugby club first contacted Plastic Free Penzance last year to help with its Surfers Against Sewage ‘Big Spring Beach Clean’ in Mounts Bay, the team’s combined manpower proving handy in removing tonnes of fishing net which had been trapped in rocks near Marazion for months.

That first-hand experience of the marine plastic crisis led the club to want to do more, identifying there were steps it could take to tackle the amount of disposable plastic used at the ground and throughout the rest of the business.

 Photo: Lawrence Smith

The club is now embarking on a number of initiatives to reduce throwaway plastic, including taking action over the amount of single-use plastic cups given out on match days. Joining forces with Microcomms (who part sponsored this year’s successful Golowan beer cup), Roseworthy Farms and Hemingways, the Cornish Pirates are looking to launch their first re-useable cup, which fans can use week after week to reduce litter and the amount of plastic dished out by the club. The cups will be available from pre-season 2019/20.

Robin James, Cornish Pirates COO, said:“During my short time in Cornwall it is obvious how much Cornish people care about their environment and reducing single use plastic. The Cornish Pirates are a proactive club and have helped with many such initiatives in the past, and I’m sure our supporters will get behind us with this important first step, as they always do.

“We look forward to our reusable cups becoming a firm favourite at the Mennaye and at the Stadium for Cornwall, helping in the process to alleviate single use plastic in Cornwall.”

Dicky Evans, Owner of The Hemingways Collection, said: Plastic waste is a global problem that we see, sadly, all too frequently on the beautiful tropical beaches in Kenya as well as the national parks. Ridding our hotels of all single use plastics is our aim for 2019 coupled with our continuing sponsorship of conservation efforts led by Watamu Marine Association and Naboisho Conservancy to promote responsible tourism in Kenya.

“We are currently halfway through a two-year programme to ensure we finally have a sustainable policy – not just plastic water bottle & straws but right down to the shampoo bottles in bedrooms.’’

Simon Murley, Managing Director of Microcomms, said: “We had fantastic feedback from the Golowan cup we launched for Mazey Day, so the opportunity to be involved with the Cornish Pirates, Plastic Free Penzance and Surfers Against Sewage for such an exciting project was a no brainer for Microcomms. This type of commitment by the Cornish Pirates underpins their commitment to create not only a successful and environmentally responsible rugby club, but also a strong and unique community presence with a positive legacy.”

Lee Miles from Roseworthy Farms added: “This subject is such an important learning process for everyone to strive to understand. With just a little effort we can all respond positively and to help in a practical way, which is just what we are doing on several of our projects across Cornwall.”

 The Cornish Pirates have already removed straws and plastic stirrers as well as issued players with re-useable water bottles and coffee cups. It doesn’t stop there though, and bosses will be working through a number of other suggestions to cut throwaway plastic and support work to spread the plastic free message in the town and beyond.

Having the Cornish Pirates join us is a massive boost and really encouraging in terms of spreading our plastic free message. We are really looking forward to working with the club on the amount of disposable plastic it uses, but also within the community. The players are huge role models and it’s exciting that the club can now also be a role model for the rest of the sport!