Action on Plastic in the Community

Starting or joining a local community group dedicated to reducing our plastic footprint is a good way to connect with others. It makes the journey easier for everyone and connects people with local growers & producers, market stall holders, shops, businesses, local councils, schools and other organisations. It is a great way to spread awareness about reducing plastic, combatting litter and plastic pollution and sharing resources.

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WHAT IS THE PLASTIC FREE COMMUNITIES PROGRAMME?
Run by the marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), the programme aims to unite people in the fight against avoidable single-use plastic wherever they live. It’s not about removing all plastic from our lives. It’s about kicking our addiction to avoidable single-use plastic, and changing the system that produces it.
Plastic Free Communities
Surfers Against Sewage

IS THERE AN EXISTING PROGRAMME NEAR ME?
Check on the SAS website to see if a group near you has already registered, and contact them to join. If you live in the Stroud district you can join the fully accredited scheme run by Stroud District Action on Plastic.
Find a group near you
Contact the Stroud group

START A PLASTIC FREE COMMUNITY
Visit the SAS website to find out what is involved and how to register. If you are local to us in Gloucestershire, and are considering starting up the programme in your village, town or other community, we would happily meet with you – online or in person – to talk through our experiences and how to use the toolkit we have developed to help speed up engagement with your community.
Our toolkit
Meet with us

INVITE A SPEAKER OR SCREEN A FILM
Organising talks, films and discussions around the topic of plastic pollution and plastic free living is great way to drum up interest and find out who in your community thinks like you! Here are some ideas:

  • invite an expert on polymers and plastics
  • invite a council member to talk about local recycling
  • invite someone from your local Greenpeace group
  • show a climate film

HOLD A MASS UNWRAP

In a mass unwrap, volunteers collect supermarket shoppers’ unwanted packaging in empty trollies – it’s a powerful way to show how much waste is generated in a short space of time, and can generate good press coverage. There are lots of tips on how to hold a mass unwrap from SAS here.

ORGANISE WORKSHOPS
Find like-minded people that would be interested in learning to make something that helps reduce plastic at home. Some successful workshops we have organised for our local Stroud community have included:

  • making cleaning products
  • making toiletries
  • making plant milks
  • sewing sanitary pads
  • sewing make-up remover pads
  • making beeswax wraps
  • making Christmas decorations

*COVID RESTRICTIONS*

Please take note of any COVID-19 restrictions in your area, in particular for how far you can travel for exercise and who you can meet. The national charity Keep Britain Tidy has good advice on litter picking during the pandemic here

ORGANISE A LITTER PICK
Bring your family, street or community together by organising a litter pick in your area. Read Chloe’s litter pick blog on how to get organised and where to get the right tools and supplies.

ORGANISE A PLOG!
Plogging is a new way to jog while cleaning up the planet. It’s a craze that began in Sweden in 2016, with the term plogging being a combination of the Swedish word for pick up “plocka upp” and “jogga” (jogging). See here how it is done.

CONTACT LOCAL BUSINESSES

Get in touch with businesses in your area and ask them what they are doing to reduce their plastic footprint. You could share this questionnaire with them, to help them identify the single use plastic in their premises and supply chain. Use social media to celebrate local businesses who are taking positive action on unnecessary plastic.

SIGN THEM UP AS PLASTIC FREE CHAMPIONS

Small and medium-sized businesses who reduce their single use plastic in at least three ways can become SAS Plastic Free Champions. If you have a local SAS Plastic Free Community scheme (see above), then put them in touch with the Community Lead who can help them become accredited as Champions. If there’s no local scheme, they can sign up directly. We have lots more tips for businesses here.

GIVE FEEDBACK TO LARGE RETAILERS

Unnecessary packaging in your supermarket shop? Take it to customer services and explain why it’s not needed. Write to their head office. Use social media to name and shame retailers who are not taking action (or not quickly enough) to reduce their plastic footprint. To get the most reach, you could use hashtags like #turnofftheplastictap #breakfreefromplastic #plasticpollution and #waronplastic.

HELP SCHOOLS TO TAKE ACTION

Local schools have a big role to play in raising awareness of plastic pollution. We have lots of tips here for how schools can take action. You could offer to run an assembly on the subject – we have put together sample slides for both younger and older school audiences that you may find a useful starting point.

CONTACT YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL/LOR

Many local councils (parish, district, county or unitary authority) have made commitments to reduce single use plastic, in their own activities and in the communities they represent.

Find your local councillors here, and ask them whether they’ll take action. You could email them or attend a public meeting and ask a question. There’s an example of a motion they could pass here (the one which is needed for the SAS Plastic Free Community scheme), and you could share with them some of the actions other councils have been taking on plastic pollution and single use plastic.

CONTACT YOUR MP

We need our government to bring in powerful legislation to reduce plastic pollution. Ask your MP to take action on your behalf.

You can find out how to get in touch with your MP here. Friends of the Earth has lots of tips on how to ask your MP to take action on plastics here.

SIGN PETITIONS ON PLASTIC POLLUTION

Search online for petitions relating to plastic pollution or plastics and climate, eg WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth.

USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO RAISE AWARENESS

Share articles, petitions and your own experiences of plastic pollution and unnecessary packaging. It’s been shown that talking about the action you are taking on social media is likely to encourage friends and family to take action of their own. Use hashtags like #turnofftheplastictap, #waronplastic, #breakfreefromplastic to share your posts more widely and join conversations with like-minded communities.

CONTACT YOUR LOCAL PRESS

Local papers are often grateful for interesting content. Why not write a letter to the editors of your local press outlets, or contact them to see if they’d consider running a piece on plastic pollution and what’s happening locally to fight it. Take photos of any events you organise and share these along with a short article reporting the event.