PACT is delighted to now be working with other Penrith organisations on a new Plastic Clever Penrith initiative, aiming to develop a coordinated local response to the growing realisation about the true extent of damage from discarded plastic.
We've all become much more aware of the vital issue of land and sea pollution from single-use plastic, particularly after the BBC's excellent Blue Planet 2 series.
While more and more people are responding by trying to reduce the plastic in their lives, this can still be a huge challenge given the vast amount of plastic packaging which still comes with virtually everything we buy.
Therefore PACT believes it's really important to work with supply chains and retailers to find other ways to bring products to customers, so that we're then offered much more choice, and the non-plastic option becomes the new normal on the high street.
The Plastic Clever Penrith initiative builds on work already done by PACT campaigning to reduce single-use plastic and establishing a 'Refill scheme' across Penrith, with many shops and businesses now offering free tap water refills to member of the public carrying reusable bottles.
Plastic Clever Penrith is a collaboration between PACT and other civic organisations including Penrith Town Council, Penrith Chamber of Trade, and Business Improvement District (BID), which together represent most of Penrith’s town centre shops and businesses. Other project partners include Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS), Eden District Council and Carlisle City Council.
As an initial step, volunteers from the group will be conducting a simple survey amongst town centre shops and businesses. The aim is to benchmark current usage of common forms of single-use plastic, and to prompt discussion about how these can be reduced or even eliminated across Penrith. It will also help promote good practices for more sustainable alternatives, by sharing experience from shops and businesses which are already acting on this vital issue.
PACT is very encouraged to see town centre shops like Another Weigh, Natures Health and J&J Graham all already offering plastic-free alternatives, so we can now buy a growing range of food, drink and toiletries locally with no or very limited packaging.
We very much hope that other retailers will follow this emerging trend by moving away from unnecessary single-use plastic, supported by customers consciously looking to purchase more sustainably.
Once the Plastic Clever Penrith survey findings are collated, it is hoped that this will then help prompt projects enabling Penrith businesses and ultimately local residents to significantly reduce their use of disposable single-use plastic.