Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Plastic and Modbury, Devon: ten years on >>> getting things done in small places

What do we do with all the plastic we produce? Well, we can try and turn it into a resource - but otherwise, it's all very confusing, as this piece from three years ago related:
Futures Forum: Exeter's Materials Recovery Facility: "waste as a saleable commodity"

The piece also took us to the Devon town of Mobury, where Rebecca Hosking has a farm
Futures Forum: 'A Farm For the Future'

... and where she initiated the drive to reduce the number of plastic bags:
Futures Forum: Recycling plastics in England: 5p per bag

It started with a film on plastic in the oceans - some ten years before Blue Planet II
The Impact of Plastic Bags - from 'Message in the Waves' - YouTube

This week the Guardian correspondent Patrick Barkham remembers visiting Modbury some ten years ago:

The place where plastic is a dirty word

I have seen the future. More power to the Welsh village of Aberporth where single-use plastic products are being phased out

Plastic waste on the beach at Pembrey, Carmarthenshire. ‘Small communities are leading the transformation of our relationship with plastic. Aberporth is aiming to become the first single-use plastic-free place in Wales.’ Photograph: Paul Quayle/Alamy
Adecade ago I visited Modbury, a picturesque, rather conservative place, to find out how it became the first town in Europe to ban plastic bags in shops. It took this south Devon town a month to go plastic bag-free after resident Rebecca Hosking showed local traders a film she’d just made about plastic bags killing marine life in Hawaii. It was surreal to see how quickly behaviour changed: suddenly, carrying a plastic bag was antisocial behaviour.
Rather more slowly, the rest of Britain has been catching up with Modbury. England finally introduced a 5p charge for single-use plastic bags in 2015. Each person once used, on average, 140 bags a year; now it’s 25.
Ten years after Modbury, small communities are again leading the transformation of our antisocial relationship with plastic. The west coast village of Aberporth is aiming to become the first single-use-plastic-free place in Wales. Its pub has switched from plastic to paper straws and ditched condiment sachets; the shop sells milk in glass bottles.
As in Modbury, this change is driven by direct experience: villagers are shocked by the plastic washing up on their shores; Plastic Free Aberporth member Gail Tudor is also a film-maker who witnessed plastic pollution on a 10-day trip around Britain’s coast.
We assume that cities are a cradle of innovation, but sustainable living is often led by small communities, from Eigg (clean energy) to Balcombe (community energy)to Penzance (plastic-free). This is no accident: an inspirational individual can get things done in small places. Face-to-face dialogue is more compelling than media or social media. And living more closely with others shapes human behaviour – the shaming of plastic bag-use saw Modbury change rapidly.
Hopefully it won’t take a decade for the government to follow Aberporth on single-use plastics. Charges could reduce use and better reflect their true cost to our planet. Policymakers are fearful of backlashes against red tape and the nanny state, but the public response to nudges such as the plastic bag charge or smoking ban shows we are supremely adaptable. Therein lies our best hope for survival.

The place where plastic is a dirty word | Patrick Barkham | Opinion | The Guardian

Modbury really has excited interest:
Modbury celebrates 10 years of being free of plastic bags | News | South Hams Gazette
The tiny Devon town that started the plastic bag charge revolution - Mirror Online
Modbury-A Town Without Plastic : TreeHugger
A UK market town declares itself a plastic bag free zone - YouTube
Salcombe - the UK’s first plastic clever town? - Salcombe & South Devon Holidays
Plastic bag backlash gains momentum - BBC News

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