When I became Mayor of Bridport in May 2020 I set the challenge of Bridport achieving Plastic Free status during my time in office.
There were plenty of doubters who said becoming Plastic Free was impossible and in many ways it is. But that does not mean we should not try, and try is what a small group of dedicated and hard working people have been doing for the past 18 months and I am extremely thrilled to announce the they have succeeded.
Bridport has now achieved the status of Plastic Free Community, having met the criteria set by Surfers Against Sewage for a town of our size. But what does this mean?
The focus of the campaign is reducing and where possible eliminating single use plastics and the team have been working hard with community groups and businesses to achieve this. The end result is that there are now numerous community groups and businesses across the town that have removed at least 3 items of single use plastic from their operation and either replaced them with more environmentally friendly alternatives or no longer use or offer them.
Some simple examples include replacing polystyrene fast food trays with biodegradable plant based ones, replacing plastic coffee stirrers and cutlery with wood based alternatives, no longer providing plastic shopping bags, using paper bags instead of plastic ones when buying vegetables and the list goes on.
By reducing or even better eliminating single use plastics, we are reducing our dependence on oil and the petrochemical industry and the environmental impact associated with it. We are also reducing the amount of non recyclable waste that goes to incineration or landfill. And finally, we are reducing the amount of non biodegradable environmental pollution in the form of litter that blights our streets, green spaces, rivers, beaches and ends up in our oceans.
Achieving Plastic Free Community status for Bridport is not the end of the journey. There is still a long way to go and lot more to do. There are more local businesses and community groups already looking at how they can reduce or eliminate their use of single use plastics and we hope to be adding them to the growing list in the near future.
But it is not just businesses and community groups that have a role to play in reducing or eliminating single use plastics. Each and every one of us can very easily play a part. An individual or better still a family, making simple changes to their lifestyle will have a small but important impact, but if we all make those changes a huge impact is possible.
- By carrying a refillable drinks bottle or cup millions of plastic bottles and cups will no longer be needed and will be removed from the non recyclable waste system and off our streets.
- By making our own packed lunches and snacks and carrying them in a reusable container you will not only reduce the amount of single use plastic used, you will also save money and I suspect be a lot healthier.
- By eating food that is in season and grown locally we will not only reduce the amount of single use plastic used to package and transport it around the globe but make a big dent in the food miles clocked up. Do we really need to eat asparagus grown in Peru when we have wonderful asparagus grown on our doorstep on Bothen Hill?
- By thinking about where you shop and what you buy you can make a huge difference to the amount of single use plastic you generate. The decisions you make as you make your way down supermarket aisles or in independent shops can make a huge impact. This is where shopping locally rather than on the internet can make a big difference.
There are three people that I would like to thank for all their hard work alongside me in enabling Bridport to achieve Plastic Free Community Status.
Without their determination and tireless effort, I certainly could not have done any of this and we would not be in the position we have achieved. Bridport is a cleaner, healthier and more environmentally conscious place to live today thanks to the work you have been doing and continue to do on behalf of our community.
The following businesses have met the SAS Plastic Free standard:
- Klin Klan’s
- Animal House
- Groves Nurseries
- Waste Not, Want Not
- The Watch House, Hive Beach and The Club House
- Red Brick Cafe
- Chilli by the Sea
- Bridport Lighting
- Sladers Yard
- Peter Southall
- Fruits of the Earth
- Bridgets Market
- Cilla and Camilla
- West Bay Discovery Centre
- Longs Fish and Chips
Some of the businesses collecting their Plastic Free Award: Cilla & Camilla, Bella, Bridgets Market, Chilli by the Sea, Groves Nurseries, The Watch House, Hive Beach and the Club House, Klin Klan and Animal House.
The following community groups have met the SAS Plastic Free standard:
- Asker Meadows Nature Reserve Project
- Bridport Community Shed
- The Bridport Rotary Club
- Bridport and District Allotment Society
- Bridport and District U3A
- West Dorset Friends of the Earth
- Bridport Community Orchard
- Transition Town Bridport
- Bridport Millenium Green Trust
- Bridport Gardening Club
- West Bay Community Forum
- Bridport Leisure Centre
- Bridport Charter Fair
- 5 Things Clear
- Bridport Food Group
To enable the Plastic Free Bridport team to reach their goal they had to enlist the support of Bridport Town Council who at their meeting on Thursday 24 June 2021, councillors unanimously agreed the following motion:
- Bridport Town Council will lead by example and remove single-use plastic items from its premises and operations.
- Bridport Town Council will support plastic-free initiatives in the area, promoting the campaign and supporting events.
- The named representative of Bridport Town Council to sit on the Plastic Free Community Steering Group is: Cllr Ian Bark.
Businesses and Community Groups that have already achieved the standard are now ambassadors for the cause and they are looking forward to bringing many more into the fold over the coming months and years.
Which Bridport based manufacturing company will be the first to meet the Plastic Free Business standard? Will they come from Gore Cross or the Dreadnaught industrial estate or somewhere else? This is where business leaders can play a role in managing positive change.
Engaging with all of the schools in Bridport and supporting them in achieving Plastic Free Schools status.
Engaging with and encouraging everyone in Bridport to do their bit to reduce or better still eliminate as much single use plastic as we can.
What will you do today to make a difference tomorrow?