Turning the tide on plastic in MCS' home town

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 22 March 2018

The Herefordshire-based Marine Conservation Society(MCS), is urging its home town to go plastic free. The charity is joining forces with a local councilor and the weekly newspaper to launch the bid which it hopes could act as a blueprint for other areas across the UK.

Ross-on-Wye
© Holtography

It’s going to be tough …but we think we can join other towns across the UK trying to do their bit for the oceans including Chester, Penzance, Aberporth, Lampeter, Ullapool, St Albans and Aberystwyth,

Emma Cunningham,
MCS Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer.

The UK’s national marine charity is based in landlocked Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, but is hoping the whole town will get behind its national call to #STOPtheplastictide

“Just because we live in Herefordshire doesn’t mean it’s not our problem. Irresponsible use of plastic in Ross-on-Wye today could be a massive problem for our oceans tomorrow,” says Emma Cunningham, MCS’ Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer.

Since the airing of Blue Planet II on BBC1 at the end of last year, single-use plastics and the devastating effect they have on our oceans is now on almost everyone’s radar.

The level of plastics found on beaches and in the world’s oceans is rising and most of that plastic comes from items used once and discarded. MCS says the more we use in our everyday lives, the more that ends up on our beaches. From bags to coffee cups, lids, stirrers, plastic straws and cutlery, MCS volunteer beach cleaners have found them all from the north of Scotland to the most westerly points of Cornwall.

MCS has been instrumental at a national level at starting to stem the plastic tide. The charity has been behind the 5p single-use plastic carrier bag charge, getting better labelling for wet wipes and forcing retailers to remove plastic content from them as well as getting the Government to ban microbeads in personal care products.

The charity launched its #STOPthePlastictide campaign at the end of last year which has already received almost 30,000 signatures in support of levies on single-use plastic and a demand that fast food outlets stop giving away single-use items at will.

Now MCS wants to address the issue of single use plastics right on its doorstep. The charity has joined forces with local councillor Mrs Caroline Utting and will be holding an inaugural meeting of ‘Plastic Free Ross’ in the town.

Speaking in the Ross Gazette, Caroline said: “I was recently approached by several Ross residents and asked to help set-up a group here to tackle the problem of single use plastics.

“From one social media post I have had a lot of interest, which is really encouraging, and a meeting seemed the logical next step. I’m so pleased the Marine Conservation Society is on board with this in its home town. I’m sure we can make a real impact on this issue.”

“It’s going to be tough …but we think we can join other towns across the UK trying to do their bit for the oceans including Chester, Penzance, Aberporth, Lampeter, Ullapool, St Albans and Aberystwyth,” says Emma Cunningham.

“We’re all used to taking our own bags to the shops now, but we can refuse straws, only buy loose fruit and veg, not ones wrapped in plastic, and take re-usable water bottles when we are out and about. Businesses can carry out a simple waste audit to find out how much waste they are producing, look at some easy win solutions to start with and ensure employees understand the importance of the waste hierarchy of refuse/reduce/reuse/recycle.”

If you live in Ross-on-Wye and would like to be in at the start of making it a plastic free town then please drop Emma Cunningham at MCS an email: emma.cunningham@mcsuk.org The first meeting is on Thursday 29th March 7pm at The Corn Exchange, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.

Do you want to help stop the plastic tide? We are currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

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