After receiving the green light from the Tywyn town council at the end of 2018, Greener Tywyn has applied to become one of Surfers Against Sewage‘s plastic-free towns.
We are now officially listed as a “community-in-progress” but our hope is to become plastic-free approved by the end of 2019.
But who are Surfers Against Sewage? What does it mean to be “plastic-free”? And what is the process involved in achieving this status?
Surfers Against Sewage
Surfers Against Sewage (S.A.S.) isn’t just about surfers or sewage. Initially a response by the surfing community to the dreadful state of our beaches, it has since grown into one of the UK’s most active and successful environmental charities. It was even selected as one of seven charities to benefit from the donations marking Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding.
Although they are concerned with numerous environmental issues, their main focuses are: water quality, plastic pollution and the connection between global climate change and the changes we see on our beaches on a day-to-day basis.
We feel that, as a seaside community, joining their movement can be a great opportunity to inspire locals and visitors to protect our beautiful stretch of coastline.
The Plastic-Free Community network
Surfers Against Sewage launched the Plastic Free Community network to encourage the reduction of single-use plastic. It’s not just about beach cleaning – it’s about going right back to the source: the brands and businesses that produce and use single-use plastics.
Now, obviously we cannot remove all plastic from our lives. Plastic is an extraordinary, useful, versatile and cheap material that is used for many things including saving lives. But single-use plastic is in most (all?) cases avoidable.
A few examples. Why disposable plastic bags every day when we can re-use stronger fabric bags when shopping? Why throw away tons of plastic cups every week when we could have our take-away coffee served in a re-usable container? So yes, it is about changing the system.
Becoming a Plastic-Free Town is a commitment to reducing single-use plastics, making changes and becoming a leader in the area. Ambitious, isn’t it?
The good news is that we’re not alone in wanting to kick our addiction to avoidable single-use plastics. 448 communities in the UK have already joined the movement and that number is growing rapidly.
In Wales, there are 5 certified communities (Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth University, New Quay, Aberporth, Chepstow) and 48 in progress including Bangor, Borth, Anglesey, Llangollen, Llanidloes …
We can change, but only if we do it together.
Becoming a certified Plastic-Free Community
We believe that joining S.A.S. can bring many benefits to Tywyn. The plastic-free campaign can increase tourism and help to promote a clean beach. It also shows that we are an environmentally-conscious community.
We can promote local shops that are going single-use plastic-free and encourage people to shop locally. Last but not least, reducing plastic will go a long way toward protecting the environment and wildlife around Tywyn.
The to-do list
To join Surfers Against Sewage, we need to meet five objectives as a town. This is how far we’ve come (February 2019).
1 – Local governance: the local council must pass a resolution supporting the journey to Plastic Free Community status. (Done!)
2 – Local businesses: work with businesses in our community to help them reduce single-use plastics. (In progress)
Last year we engaged with local businesses by carrying out surveys to see what green changes they were currently making or planning to implement, and we were delighted to see that many of them were already in the process of eliminating single-use products from their inventory. At least 3 businesses need to make 3 changes in addition to the ones they’ve already made, but the more businesses we have on board and the more changes they make, the better!
3 – Plastic Free Allies: Inspire the wider community to spread the plastic-free message. (In progress)
We need to work with schools, community centres and other types of organisations in our community to encourage action and spread the word.
4 – Plastic Free Rallies: Mobilise the community. Hold a clean-up, mass unwrap or other events to raise awareness. (In progress)
At least two local community events need to be organised every year. In Tywyn we are lucky to have the Tywyn Beach Guardians who have done a marvellous job of keeping our beach clean. We are very proud to team up with them.
5 – Set up a steering group: to form a group of local stakeholders and meet at least twice a year to take your community campaign forward. (In progress)
Of course we must make sure that the project continues in the years to come. We need to meet at least twice a year to discuss the progress of our Plastic Free Community locally.
If you are interested in helping Greener Tywyn with the #PlasticFreeCommunities campaign, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!