Check out our latest interview with the team at Love Essex and their mission to reduce waste across the county.
Plastic pollution is becoming more and more prevalent in our communities. Especially with the arrival of COVID-19, disposable masks and meeting up outside – which has meant more litter on our streets and outside spaces.
Love Essex is a team within Essex County Council, who have been doing an amazing job of spreading the waste-free word across the county.
We caught up with Cathryn and Roz from the Love Essex Team to find out more about their mission and the actions they’re taking to get Essex to reduce its waste.
Tell us more about Love Essex and the Essex Plastic Pledge…
Roz: Love Essex is an Arm of Essex County Council, which sits within a wider Waste and Environment team. Love Essex as a brand is a partnership between us and the 12 districts of Essex. We send out messages online through our website, newsletter and social media to essentially get residents to reduce their waste and to recycle more. Each year we do a partnership campaign, with a focus on a certain element of waste. This year the emphasis is single use plastics.
That’s how the Essex Plastic Pledge came to life!
Cathryn: The Essex Plastic Pledge is a mostly a digital campaign. By taking a short survey, about what you already do (using a reusable coffee cup, shopping bags etc.) we will then send you ideas on how to make simple swaps and cut down on your plastic usage.
Once signed up you’ll also receive an e-newsletter with more information and news generally going on in the world regarding plastic waste, as well as being entered into our monthly competition with some great prizes.
Read on to find out what’s up for grabs for August!
How many people are signed up to the Essex Plastic Pledge?
R: We currently have around 10,000 people involved in total. People are already aware of the plastic problem but with the news on single use plastics having more exposure recently, it’s becoming more apparent that disposable items are creeping back up again.
When you sign the pledge, you can either sign it as yourself or behalf of your household. Since Plastic Free July it’s been really popular and we hope to keep the momentum going for the rest of the year.
What have been your most successful methods of reducing waste both on a personal level and on a county level?
R: When you start with a team that focuses solely on waste you do get embedded in the whole sphere of sustainability.
My personal recommendation is to opt for reusable items. Historically, there’s been a big push towards recycling. While this is great, and recycling is definitely better than sending something to landfill, it still means a generation of waste. It would be even better if you use a reusable items and think about what you’re buying.
Simple things like a bottle and a coffee cup are a great place to start. Or even face cloths for make-up, rather than buying face-wipes that are expensive and run out so quickly.
Breaking the cycle of buying disposable items also inspires you to find other switches, like soap instead of shower gel. When you’ve switched a couple of items you’re more likely to actively seek out other changes in the home or on the go!
We really like the phrase of the campaign ‘one small change’. If you could pick one small change, that everyone in Essex could make, what would it be?
C: I think that everyone has good intentions for these small changes in their day to day lives but perhaps forget in the moment. For example the classic moment of forgetting your reusable shopping bag as you pull up to the supermarket.
If you can make sure you keep any kind of bag in your car you’ll always be prepared. People are still buying plastic bags and everyone has to go shopping but this is a failsafe way to lower your plastic consumption. If you can remember that tote bag or backpack, it makes a huge difference.
It’s the same with straws. There are so many alternatives so even if you need them for medical reasons, steel and bamboo are great alternatives. And if you don’t need one, just say no!
R: Water bottles are another easy switch. Schools are doing really well to implement this in our county, which is great news. Even if you’re travelling through airports most countries now provide refill stations and the chance to use your own.
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing but plastic bags and bottles are two of the easiest and most effective switches.
Why are these changes so important?
R: The whole idea behind our ‘One Small Change’ campaign is to ask people to just change one thing at a time. When you look into reducing your plastic consumption, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of changes you can make. But by making one small change it becomes more manageable and you’re doing something positive for the environment.
If everyone in Essex made one switch, then that in itself would have a huge impact. Is there just one thing that you could change in your everyday life?
It’s also showing that one person can make a difference, if everyone didn’t use a straw or a coffee cup or a plastic bag then all of these instances add up.
Any other exciting news from Love Essex?
Love Essex have got an incredible competition running at the moment. To be in with a chance to win a SodaStream set along with bamboo cups and metal straws! Perfect for waste-free BBQ’s this summer!
Hurry! This competition closes on August 31st. Find all the information on their social channels.
If you want to get in touch with the lovely people at Love Essex, you can via their website here.