Plastic pollution is an issue that connects the environment with all parts of society. It is something that we can take action on at every level. Only through concrete, collective, positive action will we be able to stop the flood of plastic pollution from overwhelming our planet.
TAKE ACTION WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
By organising local action, committing to ditching avoidable single-use plastics and making a concerted effort to make alternatives readily available, communities everywhere are leading the fight against avoidable single-use plastics and the marine pollution it causes.
With hundreds of communities working towards Plastic Free status there are lots of ways you can get involved. Register to lead a community and make your town, city, village, borough or region a plastic free zone. Find out more about the steps to becoming a leader and how to register.
TAKE INDIVIDUAL ACTION
Join the plastic free movement by signing-up for an individual action plan today. Making some simple changes to your lifestyle and buying habits not only improves our environment but can also save you money!
Start ticking off your Individual Action Plan and boycott throwaway plastics. Making simple changes to the way you live not only improves our environment but can also save you money!
Advice for Plastic Free Councils
As a council you have a huge role to play in Plastic Free Communities. You will probably have several Community Leads in your area and the council role is to support them where you can. How do you do this?
Anyone and everyone can get involved to be the resistance our oceans need. It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are or whether you live by the coast or not. There are contributions you can make that will make a difference. Everyone has a role to play!
Click or roll over the single use plastic items to reveal Shocking facts!
1. Plastic bottles
SAS beach cleans removed nearly 29,000 plastic bottles from our coastline in 2017.
2. Coffee cups and lids
In the UK, we use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day.
3. Plastic cutlery
Food and drink-related plastic items now make up one in every five pieces of litter.
4. Straws & plastic stirrers
Plastic straws are in the top 10 items polluting the ocean and harming marine life.
5.Plastic ‘food-on-the-go’ packaging
138 pieces of food and drink waste litter every 100 metres of beach.
6. Plastic bags
Plastic bags can kill marine wildlife by unintentional digestion or inhalation.
7. Bathroom plastics: Toothbrushes, disposable razors, plastic sanitary items, cotton buds, shower gel, shampoo & conditioner
A cotton bud stick can take 150 years to break down in the marine environment.
8. Plastic drinking cups
In the UK, 2.5bn plastic cups are thrown away each year.
9. Condiment sachets
Empty sachets are regularly found on SAS beach cleans.
Q. Who can sign up to lead a community?
A. Anyone! You can sign up as an individual and build up a group around you to help. You can also sign up as an existing group or organisation. There is no set time commitment, it is entirely voluntary and you can also retrofit existing work in your community. We do not want to take over anyone’s existing efforts, but simply connect a wider group towards the same goal. We also want to empower individuals and communities to take action.
Q. What does ‘Plastic Free’ mean?
A. We are targeting single use, avoidable plastic. These are the things that are having a huge impact on our environment and which we can make changes in our lives to eliminate. Take a look at our list of ‘Offenders’ above for the kind of items we mean. Basically it’s single use, throwaway items like plastic drinks bottles, disposable coffee cups, sachets, bathroom plastics, excessive food packaging, takeaway containers etc. We do not expect your community to be totally plastic free!
Q. How do I do it?
A. There are five Objectives which you will work towards to attain the Plastic Free Communities Accreditation. This forms the basis of what we hope will be long term change in your community. The first thing to do is to check them out in the Community Toolkit. If you are happy to go ahead and lead your community then register with us and start making your way through the toolkit. How you choose to tackle it is up to you, you know your community best and how to engage with it.
Q. What support will I get from SAS?
A. First of all you need to register with us so we know you are working on the campaign. Once you have registered you will receive a resource pack from us which gives you all the information and materials you need to be able to take action. There are guides to the objectives and tips on attaining them, advice on business and community engagement and also some great branding and materials to help you promote your campaign.
Q. How long does it take?
A. This depends on the size of your community and also the number of people involved in working on the campaign locally. A small village can reach approved status in a matter of weeks. A town will take longer, depending on how many volunteers are involved. A city? Well, if you break it down into districts and work on them one at a time with other leads, it could be quicker than you think! So, there isn’t really an answer to this. There is no deadline from us. What we are aiming for is concrete, sustainable change in a community to reduce the impact of single us plastic. That doesn’t happen overnight.
Q. How do I define my community area?
A. Objective 1 requires backing from local governance so, in most areas, it makes sense to base your community area on the catchment of your local council, be that a community, parish or town council. In a city, breaking things down into districts, boroughs or wards can help. Linking with other leads you can tackle each one individually and then present your case to the overall council body. Keep things small. You will be successful quicker and be able to use that success to roll out or link to neighbouring areas.
Q. How do I keep you updated?
A. When you register with us we will send you reporting forms so you can keep track of your progress and send them in quarterly to let us know how you’re getting on. More guidance on this is given in the Community Lead Resource pack.
Q. How can councils support the campaign locally?
A. Objective One requires councils to support the Plastic Free Communities campaign in their area by resolving to support efforts locally, working to eliminate single use plastics from their premises and having a council member on the local Plastic Free Community Steering Committee. Councils can get more information on how else they can support and build on the campaign here.
Q. What’s the best way to get your local council involved?
A. Have a chat! You may well have a link to your local council already but if not, find out which councillors are sympathetic to the cause and tell them about what you are doing. Invite them along to events and meetings. The council can be pivotal in bringing about the infrastructural change which may be needed and a huge ally. We feel bringing communities together is the most effective way to tackle single use plastics so open and regular communication will really help you.
Q. How do I word the council motion?
A. The council motion needs to be introduced by a councillor and will be worded by them. You just need to make sure it contains these three parts:
- The council agrees to put a member on your steering committee.
- The council agrees to support all Plastic Free Communities initiatives in the area.
- The council pledges to act by example and remove single use items from its premises
Q. Do you have advice for approaching businesses?
A. When you register with us you will receive a Community Lead Resource Pack which contains a Business Toolkit in it. This has lots of advice and tips for approaching businesses but can also be left with businesses to help them start their plastic free journey. Our best advice is to pop in, say hi, explain what you’re doing and start building a relationship. Every business is different and will be able to take part in different ways. Enjoy meeting new people and embedding the campaign in your community.
Q. What do they have to do and what do they get?
A. To achieve Plastic Free Communities Approved status a business needs to remove or replace at least three single use items and show a commitment to tackling any others in the business going forwards. Once this is in place, businesses get a Plastic Free Champion sticker to highlight their great work and tell shoppers. Once your community has achieved Plastic Free Communities status your qualifying businesses get a Plastic Free Communities Approved sticker and certificate to display.
Q. Can businesses swap to eco-friendly alternatives?
A. We are working to reduce the impact of single use, throwaway culture. For us the first line of action has to be to reduce the amount of items we use in the first place. So we are looking for businesses to swap to refill and reuse wherever possible. In some cases single use items are unavoidable and in that case businesses may want to investigate sustainable alternatives. There are many on the market and information can be confusing. There is no simple swap solution either. Our advice is to get businesses to research well so they know what they’re buying, how it needs to be disposed of and why swapping to it is a better option. More advice is available in the Business Toolkit.
Q. How can schools get involved?
A. Raising awareness and educating the next generation is crucial to bring about the culture change we need to see in order to tackle single use plastics. There are lots of ways schools can get involved, from linking into school themes and topics to holding assemblies and looking at removing single use items from the canteen or events. Check out our education section for more information on SAS workshops and programmes you can introduce to your school.
Q. Is there advice on holding community clean-ups and beach cleans?
A. Yes! Check out our step by step guide to holding a community clean up or beach clean.
Q. How do I get the wider community to support me?
A. Spread the word! Build a team of volunteers around you and visit businesses, hold community talks, set up social media, tell the local press what you are doing and organise community clean ups to engage supporters. Be positive, encourage small actions and get people to sign-up for an Individual Action Plan so they can see how they can contribute in their own lives. We’re building a community movement and everyone’s small actions all add up.
Q. Can I get funding from SAS for our local campaign?
A. Plastic Free Communities has been designed such that you don’t need extra resources or funding to be able to achieve or retain status. We provide you with branding for your local campaign, resources and toolkits to help you on your journey and you have access to SAS literature for events. Part of Objective 4 can include fundraising for SAS and that money would then help us to reach out to more communities, schools and groups, it cannot be ring-fenced for individual communities.
Q. Can I fundraise for my Plastic Free Community group?
A. Yes you can, but it has to be clear you are not raising money on or behalf of Surfers Against Sewage or any of the work we carry out as a charity. You need to make it clear what the money is going towards in your town and you take full responsibility for the management and accountability of that money.
Q. How can I use SAS branding?
A. On registering we will send you a comprehensive set of brand guidelines which explain how you can use your Plastic Free Communities logo. It is aimed at helping you to raise awareness and make your campaign visible in your community. Suggested use is for things like social media accounts, event posters, email footers, letter heads etc. It is a national campaign logo and will be mirrored by the branding on your community resources. By providing consistent imaging we are strengthening the call to action.
First of all … CONGRATULATIONS! You are supporting a groundswell of community action which is standing up to the blight of single use plastic on our beaches and in our oceans. What you have achieved is already making a difference to attitudes and how we buy and dispose of items. Thank you!
So what now? On achieving status we will send out your approved stickers and certificates for businesses and tell the world about the awesome work you are doing. To complete Objective 5 you need to set up a steering committee to take things forward and we need to see a plan of action. So your next steps will be determined by your local plan of action. Keep us updated and remember to apply for stickers and certificates for any new businesses that come on board.