People in Faversham are rallying to the challenge of saying no to plastics. Say No to Throwaway Plastic Week for Faversham is on 18-24 February, and already pledges are pouring in to cut out, or reduce the use of single-use plastic. Faversham people are pledging to use reusable coffee cups, reusable water bottles and lifetime shopping bags, say no to straws, to buy loose fruit and vegetables and leave superfluous supermarket packaging at the till. More than 20 Faversham shops have already pledged to take measures such as using paper bags. Cafes and pubs are pledging not to use plastic straws and to offer discounts for takeaway coffees to customers who bring their own coffee cups. There have as yet been no pledges from Faversham’s supermarkets.
This is a first for Faversham (groups in Whitstable and Canterbury are already showing interest in following suit) and was the inspiration of Sally Edge. Sally’s conscience about plastic waste had always been prickly but like many of us she felt defeated and helpless. Suddenly, late last November, she was moved to action and impulsively posted a video on Facebook. She proposed a challenge to Faversham: ‘A week where, as a town, we could have a go at cutting down our use of plastic.’ By 4 January, a stalwart team of 17 people met at her house and set out to approach Faversham’s schools, shops and businesses, and contact the media. In a matter of days, the striking poster was designed and posted on windows and doorways around the town. The Facebook page is already brimming with pledges and people sharing ideas. It had 500 likes at the time of writing and gains more by the hour.
Sally says: ‘Anyone can make a pledge big or small – whether it’s just to remember your lifetime shopping bag or to cut out using plastics entirely for the week. Everyone can make a difference.’
The message of the challenge is that the global problem of mounting plastic waste is here in Faversham and we can all do something about it. We can follow Sally’s tips at the end of this article and share ideas on the Say No to Plastic Faversham page on Facebook. We can visit the Say No to Plastic market stall which will be outside Ollie Bongos pet shop on market days for the next three weeks. We can meet at Standard Quay this Sunday, 11 February, at 10 o’clock and help clean up the Creek. Sally says: ‘This isn’t some faraway problem that you see on Blue Planet on television; it’s in the Creek, washing out into the oceans to join the swirling mass of plastic soup.’ Check this link for details of the Creek clean up. https://friendsoftheearth.uk/groups/swale/news/Faversham-Creek-Clean
For me, the challenge has acutely heightened my awareness of plastics. As I drove back from interviewing Sally, I took the photographs below at Brenley Corner and in Love Lane, and realised I’ve become hardened to plastic bags flapping in trees, verges littered with fading Fanta bottles and McDonald’s plastic cup lids, and Mars Bar wrappers in the gutter. Sally says: ‘What is the life of a Mars Bar wrapper? What will they be finding in 100 years time?’
Over supper last night – because food shopping uses a lot of plastic packaging – we discussed plastics and came up with more and more instances of needless plastic use. The single fennel bulb in a sealed plastic bag, cucumbers in their impossible-to-remove, condom-like sheath, four tins of tomatoes held together with plastic. We thought that while it seemed at present a difficult task to avoid plastic waste altogether, it was very possible to reduce it significantly with no inconvenience or expense.
Sally says: ‘There’s a lot of momentum. Twenty-four February won’t be the end of it. The team is determined to keep up the pressure and continue to support our community and businesses in reducing their use of plastics. We must keep writing to the supermarkets, showing them we don’t need all this packaging by leaving it at the till, taking our reusable cartons in to their deli counters, even if they refuse to fill them. We must let them know they have to adapt to us.’
Sally says: ‘Our priority is to reduce the use of plastics. Recycling is only part of the solution. Reduce, reuse, recycle – in that order.’
These are Sally’s free and convenient tips for cutting down plastic waste. See her video, ‘Faversham . . . It’s time to make your pledge’.
1 Get a reusable bottle for water and fill it up.
2 Say no to plastic straws
3 Get a reusable coffee cup. Most chains, and cafes in Faversham, will give you a discount if you bring in your own cup.
4 Remember your ‘lifetime’ shopping bag.
5 Make your own packed lunch.
6 Choose to buy loose fruit and vegetables.
Text: Posy. Photographs: Various