South Hams Destination Declared a ‘Plastic Free Community’

Mr Toad’s hometown, Kingsbridge, has been declared a ‘Plastic Free Community’ just in time for the summer holidays, and is the first town in the South Hams to achieve this coveted status.

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If you’re keen to avoid single-use plastic whilst on holiday, you’ll find plenty of places in Kingsbridge to eat, drink, or shop plastic-free, and the list is growing.

The award-winning ‘Plastic Free Communities’ campaign, initiated by Surfers Against Sewage, has seen groups of activists across the UK tackling the scourge of plastic pollution by significantly reducing single-use plastic in their communities.

Kingsbridge’s stunning waterside location, and the town’s proximity to some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, serve to highlight the importance of looking after our natural environment so locals and visitors alike can continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

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Whilst beach cleans and litter picks help in the short term, the most effective way to reduce plastic pollution is to use less plastic in the first place.

David Attenborough’s recent Blue Planet 2 series shed light on the damage our plastic addiction is causing in our oceans and provided a catalyst for changing habits around plastic usage. Almost 50% of plastic produced today is for single-use purposes – used for an average of 11 minutes before being thrown away. However, with plastic there is no ‘away’ – it will last for centuries, in landfills, or in the environment, breaking down into ever smaller microplastics.

The team of volunteers leading the Kingsbridge campaign were required to meet 5 objectives in order to gain ‘Plastic Free Community’ status for the town – including gaining support from Kingsbridge Town Council and involvement from schools, sports clubs, youth groups the Chamber of Commerce and other community organisations.

Several businesses in the town are currently working toward their ‘Plastic Free Approved Business’ status with six already having qualified, including: Kingsbridge Wine Rooms, Tidal Gallery, Healthwise, Lidstone’s Butchers, Harbour House Café and the Tourist Information Centre. You can also buy plastic free fruit and veg from Alan’s Apple on Fore Street, who are working hard to eliminate plastic packaging from their suppliers.

Changes made by qualifying businesses include: removing plastic bags, straws, bottles, cups, polystyrene, stirrers and cutlery from their operations; working with suppliers to reduce plastic packaging coming into their organisation; offering free water bottle refills and encouraging customers to bring their reusables; creating bespoke reusable returnable packaging; and displaying eco-friendly messages to help increase education around plastic.

Look out for ‘Plastic Free Approved Business’ window stickers coming soon to the town and be sure to give those businesses your support!

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Meanwhile, last month’s Food & Music Festival saw food being served in compostable packaging, and around 5,000 compostable drinks cups diverted from landfill and taken to a local farm for composting and returning to the soil, leaving zero waste.

Other popular plastic-free activities in the town include the ‘Hello Kingsbridge, Goodbye Plastic’ Borrow-A-Bag scheme, ‘Refill Devon’ free reusable water bottle refills, and regular local clean up events including Plogging, Paddle & Picks, Street Cleans and monthly South Hams Beach Cleans.

Plastic Free Community leader, Amanda Keetley said: “Receiving ‘Plastic Free Kingsbridge’ status from Surfers Against Sewage is important recognition of the efforts of very many local people and organisations over the past few years in taking action to reduce ocean plastic. We’d love to inspire even more Kingsbridge-based residents, community groups, organisations, schools and businesses to get involved and discover ways to use less plastic, whilst providing a focal point for local people who are passionate about the issue to meet, share ideas, and do community clean ups, to keep each other feeling positive that acting together we can make a difference”.

If you’re keen to participate in plastic clean ups when visiting the South Hams, click here for more information.

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