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?

That we're going to need a heck of a lot more standardisation and clarity in plastic packaging before recycling can be seen as truly effective solution to managing plastic waste. AND uniformity across the country on what plastics councils will and won't recycle (rather than leaving the decision to private contractors).

That compostable and biodegradable plastics are NOT the silver bullet many of us hoped and can do more harm than good in the environment unless they are disposed of correctly (which sadly often means they can't be composted in your home composter).

That personal action to change habits also has to be accompanied by intensive lobbying of government if we're going to see the wholesale change we so urgently need on removing unnecessary plastic from our lives.

That it IS possible to run a brilliant and convenient supermarket (HISBE) that sells lots of loose produce, allows people to bring their own containers to refill and thinks consciously about every piece of packaging it allows into its store - and that once people have got used to a slightly different way of shopping, they love it.

Most of all, we've got to wean ourselves off plastic tat and single-use plastic convenience NOW. There's no time to lose.