February’s Herefordshire Green Network Gathering was a lively upbeat discussion & workshop, with a focus on the growing and ever more complex issue of plastics in our environment.
Those who came along included representatives of communities and businesses from around the county including the Orcop Plastic Reduction Alliance, Hereford Community Clean Up, Sun Valley, Low Carbon Ledbury and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust local branches. There were also many of us for whom reducing plastics in our day-to-day lives is feeling increasingly urgent.
Cllr Elwyn Vaughan, who is part of the Plastic Free Powys group, kindly made the trip across the border to encourage us to Refuse, then Reuse & Recycle. Powys is busy addressing the issue of plastics by challenging mindsets, and the Plastic Free Powys group has received a good amount of publicity for their supermarket days of action – buying vegetables and then good naturedly unwrapping and returning the single use plastic packaging to supermarket. Jane Denny of Herefordshire Council joined the discussions with information about Herefordshire’s ‘Stop the Drop’ campaign to reduce plastic litter, and agreed that reducing unnecessary plastic packaging at source is what is needed.
Plastics have grown into the fabric of everything we do – the way we eat, sleep, shop, play, communicate… It is a multisystem problem and will demand a systems approach to resolve it. With this in mind we separated off into ‘open space’ based table discussions about how we can address the issues of plastics throughout our culture: in our personal lives, in our communities, in the role of corporates and supermarkets, and at government and legislative level, nationally and globally.
Outcomes of the discussions for further possible action included:
- Finding out more about the Courtauld Commitment 2025, and how we might get involved..
- Banning recycling!
- Working with local supermarkets to request a plastic free aisle (thanks Phil Hughes for this!)
- Following the lead of Plastic Free Powys – but maybe going along to supermarkets with bundles of paperbags as a suggested alternative for shoppers
- Supporting local and national water refill campaigns
- Educating ourselves and our friends and families about the issue in order to begin to make changes in our habits.
Opportunities that emerged over the course of the evening that would be helpful in supporting these aims included:
- Stop the Drop’s links with local businesses including BID and Old Market,
- The benefit of relationship building with local supermarkets through litter picking – as in the work of groups such as Emma Jones’ Hereford Community Clean Up
- Opportunities we might have to raise public awareness through activities at local events such as the Hereford River Carnival (4 – 5th May)
- Links with Herefordshire Wildlife Trust community groups around the county
We also agreed that those of us who would like to get some local action going should meet and discuss next steps.
If you would like to be part of some local action on plastics, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and once there are a few names on the list we’ll decide a time to meet – and where to start!
In the meantime check out the Plastic Free resources lists on the Herefordshire Green Network website, and send along your own additions.