Plastic-Free Newton Abbot – it’s official!
Great news from Newton Abbot as their “Plastic-Free-Community” status has been awarded by Surfers against Sewage (SAS) after a two year campaign. Betina Winkler, co-ordinator of the group, Plastic-Free Newton Abbot shares their story, and their delight.
“Hurray we’ve done it! Plastic-Free Newton Abbot (PFNA) have been Awarded ‘Plastic Free Communities’ Status for our action around single-use plastic by the marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). We’ve joined a network of over 700 communities across the UK leading the way in tackling throw-away plastics at source. A truly community-wide effort in Newton Abbot has helped us achieve this accolade. A massive Thankyou to everyone supporting us along the journey from 2019, through COVID to May 2021. Not easy times to be campaigning. We carried on however, and our efforts have now been rewarded.
Our Journey. Our campaign kicked off in June 2019 when a group of local campaigners, along with Town Development Manager, and the indefatigable Ben Bryant of CAG Devon signed up to the SAS Plastic Free Communities 5 point plan. Buoyed up by the success of other South Devon groups already accredited, we saw the positive impact on their communities. The SAS plan pulls together key organisations and businesses initiating a community-led steering group, the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, local council commitment as well as working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.
Local businesses were already on a mission to find alternatives to damaging throw-away plastics. We simply needed to acknowledge on-going efforts and support them in the next phase of the challenge. We are working with:
- Westaways, who during the campaign received a prestigious recycled packaging award for their innovations.
- Stoneman’s Deli and Cressicks – two of our early business champions for their efforts on reducing plastic.
- Other businesses including: Express Pasta Company, Pharmacy Café, Indulgence Tearooms, The Country Table, The Other Cup, Coffee#1, No Limits Community Cafe & Hub, Lemon Jelli, The Waffle Inn and Glebe Cottage Studios.
How did we do it? We carried out a range of activities, including:
- popular litter picks, using kayaks as well as dry-land collections
- information stalls in the town centre
- many talks to local organisations
- plastics reduction events at University Technical College
- film showings, including The Story of Plastic
- Mass unwrap event at local supermarkets
- local author Ellie Jackson visiting local schools to share the story of Duffy the Turtle, who swallowed plastic rubbish – it does have a happy ending!
- one-to-one work with local businesses to help them reduce their single-use plastic consumption.
Our work was featured in a regular column by John Balment of the Mid-Devon Advertiser, after he joined up on a pick at Decoy Park. This really helped us share our message with a wider audience.
We are simply over the moon to receive this award on behalf of the town. It recognises the strength of feeling and work being done in Newton Abbot to stem the vast tide of single-use plastics. We are so impressed by the engagement from so many people in our town. Well done Newton Abbot, take a bow! Of course this is just the start. We are all determined to do much more.”
Plastic Free Newton Abbot joins other CAG Devon groups who hold Plastic Free Community Status, including Dawlish against Plastic and Uffculme Green team. Sustainable Crediton and Sustainable Tiverton are working towards their awards.
Betina emphasizes, “ It was vital to have the backing of the national SAS Plastic-Free Communities campaign. Their programme framework helped shape our local campaigning. Some great materials and plenty of guidance are on offer too. An excellent programme we could recommend to any community thinking of going down the same route.”