East Dulwich is the first London community to be Awarded ‘Plastic Free Communities’ Status as it Takes Action on Single-Use Plastic.

East Dulwich has joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way to tackle throw away plastic at source. East Dulwich has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

Local parent Ric Baldock started the campaign last year after responding to a call out from the charity for volunteers to lead their community.

Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Ric pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan. The objectives include; setting up a community led steering group, instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

“I’d always thought the connection to the ocean needed to be made more explicit for us urban dwellers and this seemed like a good chance to make that connection. I love where I live and think it’s important to get involved and take care of the local community so decided to put my hand up for the task” said Ric of deciding to take this on.

“The response has been fantastic. It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t want to engage and do something to help. People genuinely care when it comes to their local community, particularly in East Dulwich where community spirit and a sense of pride in the area is high.“

“We have connected with over 3,000 people in the local area. Southwark Council has passed a motion to support all our initiatives, as well as committing to all their premises going plastic free. We have 11 businesses who have become Plastic-Free Champions, removing or replacing single-use plastic items. We’ve engaged over 30 community groups, spoken in 13 schools and run 9 events. It’s hard to gauge the impact on awareness but if we can make people stop to think about the problems and talk about them with their friends and family then that’s a step forward.”

I’m so thrilled to get the status. It’s great to get the recognition for the hard work all the volunteers have put in but at the end of the day it doesn’t stop with that certification, getting the message out and changing behaviours is a never ending task! This is only the beginning and we will continue working to raise awareness around the avoidable, single use plastics that have become ingrained in our lives and help drive behaviour change to remove it wherever possible.

The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to free the places where we live from single- use. Using the five point plan the aim is to empower communities to kick start local grassroots action, which can then be built upon.

The marine conservation charity, based in St Agnes in Cornwall, says it wants to unite communities to tackle avoidable plastic from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it. It says it is not about removing all plastic from our lives, but kicking our addiction to throwaway plastic and changing the system that produces it.

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said: “It’s great to see the work that East Dulwich has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

“We have over six hundred 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 habit and system changes we need to see.”

Plastic Free East Dulwich

Website: plasticfreeeastdulwich.org

Instagram: @PlasticFreeEastDulwich

Facebook: @PlasticFreeEastDulwich

Twitter: @plasticfreeED

Email: plasticfreeeastdulwich@gmail.com

Plastic Free Communities is an ambitious community initiative designed to unite and empower individuals, small businesses, local government and community groups to reduce their collective plastic footprint and protect the environment together. Driven by inspirational local volunteers, we are building a new and exciting community movement tackling single-use plastics and plastic litter in our villages, towns, cities and rural locations. This highly inclusive initiative, created for all ages and backgrounds, is designed to get the whole community active and do something positive to reduce the amount of plastic in the local environment. We believe that united communities lead to cleaner beaches, streets, parks and riverbanks.