The Welsh island community of Anglesey was one of the first towns to ask its bars, restaurants and cafes to give up plastic straws a couple of years ago. It’s taken the next step and become the UK’s first county to be designated a Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).
Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said: “It’s great to see the work that Anglesey county has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.”
The pioneering achievement is in part down to local Surfers Against Sewage rep, Sian Sykes, a stand up paddle-boarder, who paddle-boarded the length of Wales to highlight the impact of plastic pollution on the British coastline.
(Click here to read her guide to why Wales is the best country to go stand up paddleboarding in).
“I’m so proud to be involved in such a positive movement to rid unnecessary single-use plastics from Anglesey. I am absolutely delighted that the community of Anglesey has helped our island achieve this great status. It has been a real pleasure to inspire and educate individuals, businesses, schools and organisations to get involved and make positive changes. The community is so passionate about doing their bit to support the environment and to make Anglesey a sustainable island of Wales.”
The Isle of Anglesey County Council committed its support to gaining ‘Plastic Free Status’ for Anglesey in February 2018. Councillor Dafydd Rhys Thomas has been at the forefront of efforts to promote Anglesey as a plastic free community.
Cllr Thomas explained, “As a resident of the seaside village of Trearddur Bay and a keen coastal walker, this is a subject very close to my heart. I see so much plastic washed up on our beaches whilst out walking and decided to bring this matter before the County Council last year after meeting with Sian. I was delighted that my fellow Anglesey councillors made a huge statement in backing efforts to gain plastic free status for the Island.”
“The Council has since been working towards reducing the use of disposable plastic at its own sites and schools; promoting plastic free ventures and encouraging local businesses to use less disposable plastic.We have also worked in partnership with Anglesey Central Lions and the Sign Factory, on the Mona Industrial Estate, to produce a special “Pick Up Plastic” sticker, which have been placed on litter bins around local beaches.”
How to become a Plastic Free Community
There is a five step plan to follow from Surfers Against Sewage.
In Anglesey, Sian Sykes pulled together key organisations and businesses in the county to meet the following criteria: setting up a community led steering group, instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.
She says: “I am incredibly proud of the Anglesey community who have supported the single use plastic free movement, we are making a difference and I am excited to see what else we can do on the island, this is only the beginning. I now hope this will also inspire other counties to do the same.”
“We have over 400 communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment. Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit changes we need to see,” adds Yates.
For more information on how to be a Plastic Free Community, go to Surfers Against Sewage.