Penzance is very proud to be the first community in the UK, the world in fact, to be awarded Plastic Free Communities status by Surfers Against Sewage. But what does that actually mean? Well, it is a question we get asked a lot and what better place to start for our first blog post!

To gain Plastic Free Communities Status a community needs to meet five specific criteria, developed by Surfers Against Sewage and designed to tackle plastic pollution at source. These were:

Objective One: Engage with our town council. To meet this we needed the council to resolve to eliminate single use items from their premises, to support Plastic Free Communities initiatives in the town and to have a member on our strategic group (see Objective Five!).

Objective Two: Engage with businesses. To do this we needed a proportion of the town’s businesses to remove or replace at least three single use items. Check out our business directory to see who is part of the scheme so far and what they have done

Objective Three: Community engagement. This is a community movement and we needed to show we were working with and within our local community. We have rolled out Plastic Free Schools in twelve schools in the area, we also collaborate with the town’s Marine Group as well as its Tourism Association, BID, Chamber, traders groups, watersports clubs, churches, scouts, brownies, charities and a myriad of other organisations. How? By raising awareness, holding workshops and educating the community on how they can make a difference.

Objective Four: Events. As well as working on the strategic, business and community side of things – we needed to hold events to raise awareness of the campaign. For this we held a series of beach cleans, mobilising more than 200 people to take direct action.

Objective Five: Strategic. Finally we needed to make this all stick! So we had to form a strategic group to take things forward and build on the campaign in the town, to give it teeth and real, positive outcomes. A demonstrable and tangible effort to tackle single use plastics and reduce our impact on our environment.

That was then. This is six months on and a lot has happened! Over the course of the next few blog posts we will share the great work which is going on across our town to tackle avoidable plastics and how you can help.

Check out the latest on Instagram