Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Bristol Sea Champs have been helping stop plastic getting from "City to Sea"!

Sea Champions have been working on a fantastic local partnership project in Bristol and here Amy and Kay describe what they’ve been up to and what’s been achieved so far.
Amy writes:
“With Bristol winning the European Green Capital award last year, it was an exciting time for conservation. I was lucky enough to get involved along with Sea Champions Kay and Neil, with the City to the Sea group to represent MCS. City to Sea was just getting started and their aim was to reduce the amount of plastic litter from Bristol ending up in the Severn Estuary and floating out to sea. The group was made up of a collaboration of practitioners, scientists, local organisations, marine biologists, artists and campaigners working on ways of phasing out single-use plastics to create a model that can be shared with other coastal and river based cities. The first few meetings were opportunities for the members to share their experience and talk about different ideas and decide where we should start. 

The Bristol Whales art installation produced to celebrate Bristol's year as European Green Captial for 2015 


This is Kay as in the MCS Cod costume at the group's launch last summer, which was filmed for Made in Bristol TV (watch the video here).
Out of the potential issues raised, cotton bud sticks and MCS Beachwatch litter survey findings were talked about a lot and is something the group will campaign on in the future. The issue we decided to tackle first was single use drinks bottles, which formed a lot of the waste found on the Avon gorge river cleans. City to Sea started the Bristol Refill project in response to this problem,

The idea is really simple; all that the business needs to do is put a sticker in their window so that the public know that they can go in and get their water bottles filled up for free, helping to reduce the number of single use bottles bought and thrown away. The project now has over 170 businesses signed up across the city (exceeding our target of 120).

As a volunteer on the project, I’ve been out and about speaking to lots of businesses and had mostly positive responses; everyone has been keen to find easy ways to help reduce waste getting to the sea. If you are ever in Bristol, have a look at the Bristol Refill map for all the places that you can fill up your own water bottle.”

Sea Champion Kay tells us about the next stage of the City to Sea project:

“Thinking about how to grow the project, we started the new year in 2016 by attending a City to the Sea workshop. We looked at future ideas for new projects within the campaign to engage Bristol folk. It was great to see a range of people at the workshop, including young people and a former MCS Campaign Manager!
We were split into groups and each given a scenario and asked to come up with campaigning ideas.  The question that kept coming through was ‘how do you change peoples’ behaviour?’  We discussed how to get people into the habit of regularly carrying a water bottle, but then what happens if you run out of water?   Times that you had to buy a bottle of water, tended to be when you were travelling around on public transport, and there was nowhere to refill a bottle; also if you got caught out by being out longer than you thought. Some people proposed a message on bottled water, similar to those found on cigarettes, stating what happens to that plastic bottle when you throw it away. Somehow, we could not see the corporates liking that idea!

Things have also been happening on a political level, one of the founding members of City to the Sea and a Bristol Councillor took forward a motion that outlined constructive and step-by-step ways in which the City Council as a property owner, caterer, landlord and events licenser could play a key role in lowering the mount of SUP (Single-Use Plastics) Bristol wastes every year.

Here City to Sea Founder Natalie Fee addresses the Council meeting.
The motion included a strategy for seven key areas where Bristol City Council could make a difference, from ending the sales of plastic bottles in council buildings to working with festivals in the city to phase out all single use plastics. Although the motion was not selected to be heard due to time constraints this time, the campaign continues, with the motion coming back to the next council meeting in March. As Sea Champions and supporters of City to Sea, we will be writing to our local Councillors and MPs asking them to support the motion.
If you want to get your Council to introduce something similar in the city you live in, we can send you a copy of the motion that you could adapt and send to your local Councillors.

We’d be really keen to hear from other Sea Champions about measures they have been working on, or have seen succeed to reduce the use of plastic bottles and other SUPs in their areas. We can then propose those ideas to help to push ‘City to Sea’ even further forward."

Amy and Kay, Bristol Sea Champions

If you’d like to find out more about the City to Sea project then visit their site here. Or if you’d like to share your thought with Amy and Kay you can email them via our Sea Champions SW Manager Jules at  jules.agate@mcsuk.org.