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The Truth About Plastic - what did we learn?

Plastic Free Lewes would like to say a huge thank you to the 150+ people who came to The Truth About Plastic on Wed 24 October at Lewes Town Hall - and to the evening's  fantastic panellists: Prof Liz Hill of University of Sussex, Ed Sarasketa of Viridor, Cat Fletcher of Freegle and Ruth Anslow of HISBE Food - Brighton's rebel sustainable supermarket. Also big thanks to the wonderful stallholders with all their inspiring ideas and products to cut plastic out of day-to-day living including Railway Land Wildlife Trust, Wickle, Whale and Me, Refill Lewes, Refill Seaford & Newhaven, Surfers Against Sewage. Plus of course event partners Plastic Free Seaford and Plastic Free Eastbourne.

So on the same day that the EU announced wide-ranging measures to ban single-use plastic items by 2021 what did we learn? 


How can we act on the latest news on climate change?

Ideally, to keep within a 1.5 degree rise in global temperature, climate gas emissions should start to go down in the next year or two and be cut globally by 45% by 2030. Even this is not safe, as we are already seeing impacts at the present rise of one degree since pre-industrial times.

Christiana Figueres (ex-head of the IPCC) said on Radio 4 that her four actions are:


1. Reduce or eliminate meat consumption
2. Transport changes: more electric vehicles, shared vehicles and public transport
3. Be aware where savings are invested – for our local campaign see Divest East Sussex
4. Vote at all levels for political leaders who realise this is a shared responsibility and that we need action right now.

To that I would add: break the silence and talk to people about this. Even if you somehow don’t feel alarmed enough, it’s vital to make some changes and talk about them as George Monbiot says...

And 10:10 say: switch your energy supplier to a renewable provider

Ovesco suggests looking at:

- Our Power - they are working with a number of community energy groups
Good Energy
Coop Energy
Robin Hood 


Shoppers urged to unpack the plastic

Following on from the success of Lewes's first Unpack the Plastic event outside Waitrose in May, shoppers in town are being urged to take back their plastic packaging to supermarkets on the first Saturday of every month as part of a national campaign spearheaded by #notourplasticproblem.

Plastic Free Lewes is lobbying the local supermarkets to reduce their plastic packaging. To increase pressure, it is encouraging shoppers to think about what plastic they could do without - then hand back any excessive packaging to the supermarket it came from.

"Half of the 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste that UK households generate every year is created by Britain's leading supermarkets," says Lynda Durrant of Plastic Free Lewes's supermarkets group, "The supermarkets can no longer say this is the shopper's problem to sort out. If we are going to tackle global plastic pollution, the supermarkets have to start taking responsibility for their contribution to it."

Plastic Free Lewes has produced a leaflet with tips on how to cut down on plastic when shopping, plus a wishlist of actions it would like the big supermarkets to take to tackle plastic waste. 

Click on the text below to view the leaflets:

What could we do while shopping?


We want all supermarkets to agree to:


"Half of the 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste that UK households generate every year is created by Britain's leading supermarkets," says Lynda Durrant of Plastic Free Lewes's supermarkets group, "The supermarkets can no longer say this is the shopper's problem to sort out. If we are going to tackle global plastic pollution, the supermarkets have to start taking responsibility for their contribution to it." 

See more about Plastic Free Lewes and dates of monthly meetings



Lewes’ first Electric Car Show attracts 400 visitors

The inaugural Lewes Electric Car Show held on Saturday 21 April was a huge success, attracting around 400 members of the public.



In total 13 electric and hybrid cars were on display at the event hosted by Transition Town Lewes and Ovesco, the community energy company. Models included the Tesla S, the Nissan Leaf, the Hyundai Ioniq, Renault Zoe, Kia Soul and Smart Car, plus other cars by BMW, Toyota and Mitsubishi.

Visitors were able to quiz the owners about the practicalities of owning and driving an electric car and compare data for each model on real world mileage, charging times, speed and emission data. Talking to the owners gave non-electric car drivers reassurance on common concerns such as "range anxiety" – how far they would be able to travel and how they would be able to charge their car if it ran out of power unexpectedly.

None of the owners at the show had ever required rescue because of flat batteries and they emphasised how your driving behaviour adapts to energy management.

Matthew Bird, sustainability officer and lead on electric vehicle strategy at Mid Sussex District Council gave a talk on owning an electric car, the charging network and what the future might hold. A point he made was that the majority of people with an electric car either charge at work or at home and seldom need to use public charging points. A new and important EU grant was mentioned: a 40% contribution to the cost of buying an electric car for small businesses in East Sussex - more here 



Organiser Julia Waterlow says: “It was fantastic that this new event attracted so much interest and got such a positive reception from visitors. We are especially grateful to the marvellous owners who gave up their Saturday to come along with their cars and provide so much practical information to visitors. We’d like to thank Harvey’s Brewery for generously allowing us to hold the event in their yard – and Matthew Bird for a really useful and interesting talk.”

“One concern we heard from potential buyers, however, is that there are only two public electric vehicle charging points in Lewes, with many asking if the council, the supermarkets and large employers can take action to address this,” Julia said. “People who regularly have to drive long distances are also holding back from taking the plunge until there is greater provision of charging points across the country. For these reasons, some visitors told us they are initially looking at hybrid vehicles, which can fall back on a standard petrol engine when required.”

Future plans
Given the speed at which electric vehicle technology is progressing, lots of visitors asked if the Lewes Electric Car Show could be a regular event. “We will be looking to hold further shows in the future,” says Julia. “New developments in electric car technology are happening almost weekly. The one thing that you can be sure of is that both the cars and the network will be even more sophisticated within a very short time.”




Electric Vehicles

There are many good websites already covering the subject so here are links which should give you all the information you need. Note that the technology and models are changing fast so you are best to look at specialist websites like Zap Map and Nextgreencar which update regularly.

As a general introduction to electric cars, here's an excellent article by Geoff Barnard from Steyning 

    Car Club
Co-wheels car club has electric cars.


    Next Green Car
Comparisons of how green any car is (over its life), and general information on every aspect of electric vehicles here...


    Charging points
To find out about charging points, and get some of the latest up to date information on electric cars see Zap Map. They also have a guide to buying an electric car.

have charging points and offer half price charging for customers.

Office for low emission vehicles
What the government is doing.

Used electric cars: Here are a couple of websites to look at:


Different makes:








only hybrid



Record numbers of people are buying electric cars and plug-in hybrids, but many people still have reservations – and many of those centre on charging. How easy is it, where can you do it; how can you do it; and how long does it take? This video answers some of these questions:



Electric cars will come of age in 2018. For the first time they will compete in price and performance with petrol and diesel cars. But in the year ahead we will also be confronted with some uncomfortable truths about going electric.



Transition is about the creation of resilient communities. It's not about campaigning but designing. It's about putting in place systems that will help us to deal with the big changes that are on the way. Those changes will be in three main areas: energy, the economy and the environment. Read more and get linked in to the bigger picture!

Tell everyone you know about Transition Town Lewes
Together we can achieve so much more. We’re fuelled by local ingenuity and a passion for positive change in challenging times. This is our town, our future, so get in touch to share your ideas and be involved.

Take a look at our events, read some news and hopefully, get inspired by what you find here.



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