Lessons learnt by Pickmere’s campaigners in their bid to gain plastic free status is being taken to Westminster - to encourage other communities to follow suit.
Tatton MP Esther McVey met with representatives from Plastic Free Pickmere to hear their experiences of the process, which saw them become only the second community in Cheshire to be given the accolade.
Last night she wrote to ministerial colleagues setting out Pickmere’s achievements and the problems communities are facing in reducing single-use plastics with suggestions on how to tackle them.
Ms McVey said: “We need to reduce single-use plastics and small changes add up and create a big difference. By taking your own coffee up to save using a paper one with plastic inside, stopping using cotton buds, buying washing powder in boxes rather than in plastic containers, paper wrapped butter and using a butter dish not buying in plastic tubs – it is small things that make a difference. More and more businesses are saying they want to reduce their plastic footprints so we need to make sure any barriers in their way are tackled and any pitfalls they face are dealt with. Others need to learn from communities like Pickmere who are leading the way and have experience in qualifying for the status. From talking to them, I now am fully aware of the difficulties they faced and will be relaying that back to ministers in Westminster to see what the Government can do to make things easier for other communities to get on board.”
Ms McVey discussed with campaigners how plastic free has come full circle, as she told a story of how when she was younger she took her own bowl out to the ice cream van and how children used to collect glass pop bottles to return to shops in exchange for a refunded deposit of a few pence and no one bought plastic bottles of water it was from the tap or a water fountain.
Plastic Free accreditation is awarded by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) based on five objectives which are individually tailored to the size of each area.
Ms McVey added: “I will be telling colleagues in Westminster how they can encourage their communities to go plastic free and how they can reassure people that small actions do make a difference. I know people have said to me that it is hard work for residents and people may not want to do it, but in reality it can just be a very small difference which makes a huge difference.
“People may think they have to commit to completely changing but it is small changes that add up. One of the excellent ideas from Pickmere was to use their Facebook page to post different ideas throughout the week of how people can make those changes.”
Helen Shaul, Community Leader of Plastic Free Pickmere added: “I am absolutely delighted that Pickmere has achieved Plastic Free accreditation and that the many residents and businesses who have supported this cause have had their contributions recognised. However, the journey is just as important as the award and we will now continue to work to reduce Pickmere's plastic footprint even further. I have no doubts that, with Ms McVey’s invaluable support, we will continue to achieve our aims."