Drive to make Wilmslow a "plastic free" town


A number of voluntary groups across Wilmslow have come together to support a campaign to make Wilmslow a plastic-free town.

Led by Transition Wilmslow, so far the initiative has gathered the support of Wilmslow Clean Team, Fulshaw Women's Institute, Wilmslow Civic Trust, Wilmslow In Bloom, Dean Row Guides, Brownies, Rainbows and Wilmslow Partnership.

Organisers have also spoken to retailers in the town and aim to persuade them to let passers-by refill reusable water bottles from their tap. The campaign will initially focus on encouraging consumers to cut down on their usage of single-use plastics.

In order to achieve full accreditation as a 'plastic-free' town, campaigners called on the support of Wilmslow Town Council. At their meeting on Monday, 19th February, members passed a resolution to support the initiative to make Wilmslow a plastic-free town, make the Council plastic-free and appoint a councillor to join the 'plastic-free' steering group.

Speaking at the Wilmslow Town Council meeting on Monday, 19th February, Ruth McNulty said "We don't need to stop use of all plastics, we certainly need to try and stop use of single-use plastics such as drinking straws and coffee cups."

Professor Pippa Tyrrell MBE explained "The term plastic-free town clearly doesn't mean a plastic-free town because that would be impossible. The reason for using the term plastic-free town is because a group called Surfers Against Sewage was set up many years ago in a number of seaside towns because inevitably town councils realised litter on their beaches was detrimental economically and in many other ways. They have set up a number of plastic-free towns and there is an accreditation."

Penzance, Tenby and York have all gone plastic-free and Chester is currently on the way to achieving the accreditation.

Professor Pippa Tyrrell MBE added "What they mean is reducing single-use plastics. We know that we can't take plastics out of everywhere, we wouldn't want to but the term plastic-free is a lot easier for people to understand than single-use plastics because that takes a bit of thinking about.

"So what we are asking for is you as a council to agree that we should become a town that minimises as much as possible the use of single-use plastics so that we have shops and businesses that agree to refill water bottles, we eventually get water fountains so people can fill up their own water bottles and that we encourage people to take their own cups into coffee shops and get the discount and particularly we reduce things like plastic straws which are completely wasteful, get used for about ten minutes and get chucked away.

Pippa added "I think we would be the first town in Cheshire East to become plastic free, I think its something people would really get behind because they've seen Blue Planet, their children have seen Blue Planet and it's easy. It's just like going back to where we were 20 years ago when we wouldn't have dreamt about using a cup once or a straw once - so what not go back to paper straws."

Transition Wilmslow have organised a meeting at the United Reformed Church on February 27th, starting at 7.15pm to discuss the setting up of a plastic-free Wilmslow steering group and also to plan their stall at the Artisan Market in April to publicise the adverse impact of plastics in our environment.

Professor Pippa Tyrrell MBE said "We welcome anyone who would like to be involved in either or both, and any ideas about how to engage people in an effort to reduce our use of single use plastics are also most welcome. For further information people are welcome to email me directly."

Plastic-Free Wilmslow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Mark Russell
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 3:53 pm
Fantastic idea! Well done all, i hope it makes a difference!!!
David Smith
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 5:27 pm
Well done and I fully support the aim and intentions.
I suppose this initiative falls under the general umbrella of looking after our local environment and ultimately Planet Earth! That said - does anyone else feel annoyed, as I do, at the deliberate policy of shops in Wilmslow (but really EVERY town in the land) to leave their doors open in even the coldest and windiest weather and allow hot air to waft out into the street? The same policy is in force when we have quite hot weather and the colder air-conditioned air wafts into the street. In both of these examples, energy is spent warming or cooling air that is then allowed to leave the shop via the open doors and is an example of a waste of energy. The shops seem to think that they need to leave the doors open on a really cold and wintry day in order to make us believe that they are open for business - despite the fact that all the lights are on, customers can be seen inside and it is still the middle of the day. In the past I have entered a shop and closed the open door behind me, only to see an assistant go and open it again. So it isn't that a customer has accidentally left the door open, it is actually shop policy to do so. I have spent time in colder climates in various parts of the world and believe me I cannot recall having come across this pathetic business practice anywhere else. If YOU have a business in the Wilmslow area and are so mentally twisted to think it best to leave your shop door open, then please tell us why you do this and offer proof that it is best for the environment and that your increase in energy bills are more than offset by the extra profit realised from the increased custom that you attract by leaving your doors open!
Regards, Dave Smith.
Ruth McNulty
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 7:40 pm
David Attenborough's latest Blue Planet series distressingly brought home to us the damage we are causing to the Pacific in particular but more generally to our oceans. As consumers, we could all contribute to a reduction in our purchase of plastics.
The 'Less Plastic' web site suggests that, on an individual level, we could:

Bring your own shopping bag
Carry a re-usable water bottle
Bring your own cup (for take-away coffee. Costa will give a 25p discount and Pret 50p)
Pack your lunch in reusable containers (or, as some consumers are already doing, buy your fresh meat and fish in your own container)
Refuse disposable straws and cutlery
Skip the plastic produce bags in supermarkets
Slow down and dine in
Store leftovers in glass jars
Share these tips with your friends

These are not our suggestions but those of 'Less Plastic'. We're confident that YOU can conjure a whole host of further initiatives to help us make Wilmslow a 'Plastic Free' town.
Pippa and I are delighted that Wilmslow Town Council voted unanimously to become 'Plastic free' themselves as a lead to encourage the businesses and residents in the town to follow their example.
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 7:44 pm
A great initiative. Perhaps the leisure centre can lead the way by installing water fountains in place of the vending machines selling bottles of water.
Simon Worthington
Thursday 22nd February 2018 at 3:33 pm
Disposable plastic is a first world blight on the third world and nature. 20 years ago Chile and Argentina had a deposit system on plastic bottles. How is it possible that the mighty, all seeing, magnificent EU hasn't lead the way? Answers on the back of a stamp please.
Ruth McNulty
Thursday 22nd February 2018 at 8:09 pm
A fair point Simon, but we can all wait for somebody else to do something. Pippa and I are determined to press ahead with a positive programme of consumer-led action now - without waiting for industry or government initiatives - or rather to provoke and speed such initiatives.
Please can we encourage you to consider how you and your family could productively contribute to reduced plastic consumption in general and to share your initiatives with other correspondents on this site?
Chris Neill
Thursday 22nd February 2018 at 10:47 pm
Could we first make Wilmslow a Pothole Free town?
Birgitta Hoffmann
Friday 23rd February 2018 at 2:50 pm
Simon, the EU had these initiatives in the 1990s, when students and workers were encouraged to use reusable cups in Vending Machines and quick coffees. At this point plastic bags were replaced with reusable jute, and I remember taking reusable containers to buy yoghurt and cheese on the market.
The UK chose never to join these initiatives (we do that occasionally, as you well know with other opt-outs).
I welcome going plastic-free in Wilmslow and the fact that already Waitrose and many of the upmarket coffee shops offer customers the choice between a reusable cup (either china for staying in or buying/bringing your own) or a one-way plastic cup. I suppose the next stop is to remember to use the reusable cups and convince other places to start using bottle deposits or even better reusable glass bottles.
Peter Evans
Tuesday 27th February 2018 at 7:59 pm
Great idea but I don't like the name - I just think it is better to give this a name that more acurately describes the objective, then more people would understand and may choice to get involved? Itnstikes me it's a bit like calling Alderely Edge a Bentley only town...