I had the pleasure (haha) of being invited to speak at the Sidmouth Town Council meeting last night, where the motion to support our bid to become an SAS Plastic Free Coastline town needed to be agreed in order to proceed. Cllr Louise Cole asked me to speak on the motion, and then she would follow up with the formal presentation of it for voting. She has been nothing but supportive the entire process so far, as has Cllr Dawn Manley and Chair of the Council Cllr Ian McKenzie-Edwards and the Town Clerk Chris Holland. So to my surprise I managed to speak and get most of what I wanted to say across to them, and thankfully it was received with much support and enthusiasm, and the vote passed UNANIMOUSLY! The motion after me was to buy and install 3 water fountains in the town too, so the council are very much forward thinking and looking to see what they can do to make real changes, which is fantastic to see.
The plastic-free town ideas we have fit beautifully with the town’s tourism ideas, and with Sidmouth In Bloom’s bid to become a Champion of Champions town. To me it is brilliant that our town will not only look perfect, with the litter picks undertaken and paint work being replenished, and chewing gum being picked up, but also under the surface it will start to improve. EDDC have promised to look at the drains on the sea front to see how to solve the issue of the plastic bags and rubbish just running down through the drains and onto the beach; Waitrose have today promised to stop giving out disposable cups by Autumn this year; it’s becoming a totally normal thing to ask cafés to fill up a water bottle (they even did it without flinching in London’s Sky Garden – one of the most beautiful places to have a cupppa, on top of the Walkie Talkie in London – they didn’t try to sell me a bottle of water as they may have done a year ago). If we can continue to be forward thinking and innovative with our ideas in Sidmouth, whilst sharing and pinching ideas from other towns, just think how far we can come.
What I’d love next is Phase 2 of our motion to start kicking in – we didn’t touch on this last night as we just had to get Phase 1 agreed, but once we’ve got the SAS accreditation (5 more businesses needed please, then we can apply), we can push for more improvements. I would like to see the following:
←Lots more bins around the town and seafront (with both recycling for bottles and tins plus general waste, all on the same bin ideally, or near each other); and on sunny days in the Summer the seafront ones need emptying at least once a day, preferably twice to avoid a repeat of last year where they were overflowing. And if there’s a bin which is particularly overused when others aren’t, put two bins there! Big dumper style ones if necessary (again to mention London but last week in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park there were hundreds of bins, many big ones, so there was hardly any litter! – and what there was I picked up of course!).
Bins are also needed around the schools – ideally the routes between the College and the Primary School. Could these be decorated by pupils to make them interesting and eye catching, plus providing another reason to get the children, young and older, into ‘owning’ them and being proud of them? →
←Praise and publicity for businesses taking innovative steps. Could this be featured on the Town Council’s website, on the Tourist Information site’s website and maybe a board inside, shared in the Herald and of course on our website. We could devise an award scheme for true innovations and commitment to cutting waste.
I know in reality businesses are in competition, but if there is a way to gain economies of scale by ordering together, can the Chamber of Commerce support that? If it’s cheaper for the independent shops to club together to buy paper straws, compostable cups, wooden ice cream scoops, compostable fast food packaging etc, wouldn’t that be an awesome way to run ethical businesses?
We would love cigarette butt disposal stations to be installed throughout the town (they can be recycled for free through https://www.terracycle.co.uk/en-GB/brigades/cigarette-waste-brigade
Asking the local bigger supermarkets to be more involved in disposing of the waste generated from their stores. Perhaps they could be requested to clean up litter within a radius of their store? And also maybe they could take out this paid service to rid us of the crisp packets and snack bar wrappers, which can be recycled but at a cost: https://www.terracycle.co.uk/en-GB/zero_waste_boxes/candy-and-snack-wrappers
How’s that for starters?