Sunday, 07 August 2022

Campaign for ‘plastic-free’ town succeeds

Campaign for ‘plastic-free’ town succeeds

HENLEY has been granted “plastic-free” status.

The award made by Surfers Against Sewage, a marine conservation charity, recognises the work being done in the town to reduce the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

Julia Carey started the Plastic Free Henley campaign in 2019 and created a steering committee with four other residents, Jo Dickson, Narelle Chidwick, Sandra Munuera and town councillor Sarah Miller.

The committee formed a plan to:

• Set up a community-led steering group

• Instigate the charity’s plastic-free schools education programme

•Secure commitment from the town council

• Work with Henley businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the number of disposable plastics they use.

Mrs Carey, of Reading Road, said: “The community backing we have had on this has been fantastic and the ball has only just started rolling.

“Now that we have the official accreditation and status, we can use this as a springboard to getting more of the community involved. I feel very proud to have finished this initial important step of gaining accreditation. It took us a while and we were slowed down by the covid pandemic but now we have got there.

“This is a cause I have been passionate about since I was very young, so I am now actively living out a dream of mine.

“It makes me super-happy to have the backing of so many other people in this community who are also passionate about the environment and helping to reduce disposable plastic in our lives.

“However, this is only the first step on the journey and we will be continuing the work by promoting the message, organising town litter-picks and hopefully signing up more businesses and allies.

“Of course, the town is not completely plastic-free but this is a campaign to help us re-educate ourselves and the way we live in the hope we can stop adding to the plastic in the ocean and waterways and our environment.”

To receive the accreditation, the group needed to find at least six “business champions” to take a minimum of three steps to replace disposable plastics and 20 “community allies” to promote and support the message in ways such as lending their space for talks and films relevant to the cause.

Mrs Carey and her team have signed up 10 businesses and 20 allies so far including the Salon of Chi, the Henley Larder, Reids of Henley, Drifters coffee house, the Kenton Theatre, Henley Rowing Club, Henley Rotary Club, Warriors on Waste, Badgemore Primary School and St Mary’s School.

Rachel Yates, the charity’s plastic-free communities project manager, said: “It’s great to see the work that Henley has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

“We have more than 600 communities across the UK working to reduce single-use plastic and the impact it has on our environment.

“Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habits and system changes we need to see.”

For more information, email Mrs Carey at plastic
freehenley@gmail.com or visit www.plasticfree.org.uk

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