Plastic Free Lewes – what’s happened so far

Plastic Free Lewes was launched as a town-wide initiative at the end of 2017 to help reduce unnecessary plastic use in Lewes and has seen huge response and support.

Here’s a quick update on what’s happened so far, including initiatives both by Plastic Free Lewes and others:

 
  • Eight key organisations have signed up as Plastic Free Lewes partners to drive forward and promote the initiative. They are: Transition Town Lewes, Depot Cinema, Lewes District Green Party, Lewes Liberal Democrats, Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust, Green Cuisine Trust, Lewes Friday Food Market and Making Lewes. If you have an organisation or business that would like to be a partner, get in touch.
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  • Two workshops were held in January attracting over 120 people. At the workshops dozens of different ideas were explored to address plastic consumption and pollution. Out of these workshops, more than 80 people have formed and signed up to different plastic action groups – see below.
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  • Eight ‘plastic action’ groups have formed to tackle different aspects of the plastic pollution challenge. You can see more about these groups here. Everyone is warmly welcome to join the group that most interests them – or suggest a new group. 
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  • Both Lewes Town Council and Lewes District Council have unanimously voted to phase out the use of ‘single use plastic’ (SUP) in their activities, such as bottles, cups, straws, cutlery and food containers, where it is reasonable to do so. Lewes Town Council has also agreed to create a working group with Plastic Free Lewes and others to help Lewes to become a “SUP-free” town. Huge thanks to Green Party Councillors Chelsea Renton and Susan Murray for getting through the town council motion, and to Green Party Councillors Joanna Carter and Tony Rowell for proposing the district council motion.
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  • Over £250 has been crowdfunded to enable Lewes to join the national water Refill scheme. The Refill scheme, initiated by plastic pollution campaigning organisation City to Sea, provides signage and an online app to make it easy for anyone, wherever they are in the UK, to see which nearby cafes, restaurants and other outlets are happy to offer a free tap water bottle refill. The Refill scheme has since said that we may be able to join the scheme for free, so the crowdfunded £250+ may be returned to donors or used for other water-related Plastic Free Lewes projects. 
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  • Participants in the current Prince’s Trust team programme at Sussex Downs College have chosen to do their community project with Plastic Free Lewes. Participants, aged 18-25, are now devising a range of initiatives to encourage the use of reusable bottles and bags and raise awareness of plastic waste, especially in Sussex Downs College itself.
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  • A Green Party petition has attracted over 1,500 signatures to get Lewes District Council to debate the introduction of water fountains across Lewes town and district. Big thanks to Adrian Ross of Lewes District Green Party for creating and promoting the petition.
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  • Oli Henman and Kevin West of Lewes Liberal Democrats have been building links with a wide range of local coffee shops to assess their policies on takeaway cups. Some shops such as Bun and Bean and Ground are already fully committed to using compostable cups; other small local coffee shops are concerned about price but of these at least 3-4 have committed to moving to compostable and/or reusable cups and are currently identifying suppliers, including the Riverside café and the Runaway. Finally national chains like Costa and Caffe Nero do offer a discount for reusable cups but are subject to a national strategy, so more public pressure is needed to ensure a change across all their sites. 
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  • A calendar of Plastic Free Lewes monthly meetings has been set up for the whole of 2018. To ensure Plastic Free Lewes maintains momentum, monthly meetings to review activities and next steps have been confirmed for the whole year – see dates below. All meetings take place at the Linklater Pavilion. Everyone is warmly invited to come along and share their thoughts and ideas:

Wed 28 February
Sat 17 March
Wed 11 April
Wed 9 May
Wed 6 June
Wed 18 July
Wed 15 August
Wed 12 September
Wed 24 October
Wed 21 November
Wed 12 December  

7.30pm-9pm, FREE
10am-1pm (£5/concs available)
7.30pm-9pm, FREE
7.30pm-9pm, FREE
7.30pm-9pm, FREE
7.30pm-9pm, FREE
7.30pm-9pm, FREE
7.30pm-9pm, FREE
7.30pm-9pm, FREE
7.30pm-9pm, FREE
Plastic Free Lewes Christmas drinks!

This is what’s happened to date – but, of course, it’s only the start in tackling this huge challenge. If you would like to get involved, please come along to a monthly meeting or join the Plastic Free Lewes Facebook Group

Or if you’ve got any thoughts on what other areas of plastic pollution need to be tackled, email enquiries@transitiontownlewes.org