Let’s get ‘Drastic on Plastic’

Friends of the Earth’s position is that recycling is not the answer, depending on the type, plastics can generally only be recycled a few times, and some types not at all.

Each time plastic is recycled its quality is reduced, so before long it has to be disposed of. This means it goes to landfill (or worse, is incinerated), but too often it escapes to pollute the environment before that point.

Some forms of recycling, such as when plastic bottles are turned into things like fleece jackets cause plastic pollution through abrasion. This is when plastic microfibers are washed and worn off the product in the laundry and end up being flushed into the oceans where they can get into the food chain.

The solution to the plastics pollution crisis is to dramatically reduce how much plastic we are using.

 

I was pleased to be at the Pre-Parliament event with Chris Matheson before the joint Friends of the Earth and Womens Institute draft bill was read. The bill proposed an ‘End Plastics Pollution’ law, this will guide government action to phase out all but the safest and most essential plastics. Let’s hope it moves forward quickly….

About Chester Friends of the Earth

Our group is friendly and welcoming for people of all ages, interests and backgrounds. We aim to support a variety of local and national campaigns and encourage links with other like-minded groups.

Currently we are working on three main campaigns.

On Plastics – our campaigns are  #StrawFreeChester; #PlasticFreeChester & #ZeroWasteChester

After months of hard campaigning we achieved Straw Free Chester in March 2018 and now have over 72 plastic straw free businesses in Chester.

Chester was also declared as a Plastic Free Community in December 2018 by Surfers Against Sewage.

We recently started work on an exciting new project, we are working on an ongoing Incredible Edible Project in Handbridge. The aim of the project is to bring the local communities together and converting previously unused plots of land into local hubs for ethically grown foods, bringing the community together with food.

We are due to start a project very very soon, in Chester we will be the first to undertake this project in the North and only the third in the UK, 10xGreener is a Friends of the Earth initiative, the aim of it is to make cities/urban areas ’10x greener’. More greenery can mean more wildlife, cleaner air and can help improve mental health.

Due to the threat posed by Fracking in our area of Cheshire, the Wirral and Flintshire we have a long-standing relationship working with Frack-Free Dee.

At Friends of the Earth Chester & District we have an amazing time, with great people, for a great cause. Get involved!

CWAC follows other Councils in declaring a Climate Emergency

It’s been a big news week.

Cheshire West and Chester Council yesterday declared a Climate Emergency. It was fantastic to hear a unanimous vote was passed in the first meeting of the newly elected and re-elected CWAC Council yesterday.

 

Cllr Matt Bryan put the motion forward, it was seconded by the regions first Green Party Member, Cllr Paul Bowers.

There were great speeches by our own member of Friends of the Earth Chester & District Cllr Jill Houlbrook, as well as supporters Cllr Bryan and Cllr Bowers.

“Members we must not ignore the messages, we cannot fail our young people, the planet does not belong to us, we simply hold it in trust and in our hands for future generations” – Cllr Jill Houlbrook

This is just a start and the region now has a huge job to make the necessary changes, but the Chester Sustainability Forum, of which we are a part of will keep a beady eye on the progress.

Friends of the Earth are just about to launch a Climate Community Campaign, which will endeavour to engage with residents. Then Friends of the Earth have some great documents to support Councillors.

“If you still think that the economy is more important than the environment, hold your breath while counting your money” –  Cllr Bowers

Find the full speeches here.

Helen T

 

Plastic Free Chester – celebrate the single use plastic ban.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed a ban on plastic straws, drinks-stirrers and plastic stemmed cotton buds in England, following overwhelming public support for the move.

Following an open consultation, a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds will come into force in April 2020.

The ban will include exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reports that in England we are estimated to use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans.

Even though non-plastic alternatives are readily available, it is estimated that 95% of straws are still plastic.

Cleaning up the effects of littering costs local government millions of pounds every year, with costs also imposed on the tourism and fishing industries, and the effect of plastic pollution worrying 89% of people.

It is estimated there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

A recent report estimates that plastic in the sea is set to treble by 2025.

The group started working on Plastic Free Chester November 2017, after Dr Christian Dunn, now an active member came up with the idea over a chat in The Countess of Chester Park.

Our Coordinator Helen Tandy, who had been personally trying to reduce her own plastic footprint, saw Christians launch tweet by sheer chance. With the energy of a larger team behind the cause, the group were the first Straw Free City which was declared only three months after the original inception of the campaign, on the 8th March.

BUT….

Does this go far enough?

The European parliament have actually already voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers as part laws against plastic waste, this comes into force by 2021. The UK will have to follow these if it took part in and extended the Brexit transition period because of delays in finding a new arrangement with the EU.

So in comparison to what we would have had remaining in the EU, the declaration in England falls short of where we need to be, so more to do.. heads down for more campaigning, litter picks and hopefully big business will take the lead instead.