Plastic Free Berwick campaign is launched

How many of us remember the clank and the rattle of crated milk bottles in the early morning as we are gently roused from slumber?

Thursday, 7th February 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 16:11 pm
Plastic-free campaign group Sea the Change is supporting an initiative by local milkman Daren Bruce to re-introduce glass milk bottles and the traditional milk round.

The stutter and whine of an electric milk float disappearing down the road as we wolf down a slice of toast and prepare ourselves for the day ahead.

Well it seems that environmental campaign group Sea the Change want to see us return to the old ways.

Plastic Free Berwick.

They are supporting an initiative by local milkman Daren Bruce to re-introduce glass milk bottles and the traditional milk round.

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The service began on Monday, giving Berwick residents the chance to hear the calming, gentle clatter of real glass milk bottles once more.

Milk can be delivered to the door twice a week, empties collected and carted away – recycling in the traditional sense and fewer throwaway cartons to worry about.

Juliana Amaral, co-founder of Sea the Change, said: “This is definitely a small step in the right direction towards a sustainable environment. So many locals have signed up for the new service that Daren has so far already managed to create two new jobs; and he has no plans to stop there.”

Speaking at a Berwick Town Council meeting on Monday, she added: “The uptake has been amazing. This time last year he was delivering about 600 bottles of milk in glass. Now he is delivering 3,000!”

Sea the Change is a not-for-profit organisation based in Eyemouth which operates on both sides of the border, from Coldingham in the north to Seahouses in the south.

“Our focus is on the outdoors and specifically the sea,” said Julia. “What we want to do is foster respect and appreciation for our environment.

“We are very concerned about the issue of plastic in our sea and although we live in a beautiful area it only takes a short walk along New Road to find quite a few bits of plastic that will eventually end up in the sea.”

Last week, the group was registered to lead on a Plastic Free Berwick campaign developed by Surfers Against Sewage.

“Talking about going plastic free is a little bit overwhelming because plastic is everywhere in our life but the Plastic Free Berwick campaign is very simple,” she said.

“It’s all about making three small changes around the use of single-use plastics. There are many alternatives out there and those are the kind of conversations we want to have in the community.

“So far we have had a lot of positive responses from local businesses, the library and local shops, especially on Bridge Street, which want to embrace the cause. For this campaign to be successful we need the support of community groups and schools too.

“There is a lot we need to work on to achieve plastic-free status for the town but it’s quite simple. In a town the size of Berwick, all we need is six local businesses signed up. But we don’t want to do it too quickly. It’s not a tick-box exercise. It’s about building up information and awareness and helping people to make small changes.”

North of the border, community efforts to clean up beaches and rid Eyemouth of plastics are starting to make an impact and the hope is that more people will join the campaign. St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve have just completed their January beach clean programme and Sea the Change is working towards making Eyemouth a plastics-free community.

“We would like to thank all the dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers who attend. Without their monumental effort, the cleans would not be nearly as successful,” said Lyle Boyle, the marine reserve ranger.

“They fought the elements to collect and record the marine litter items which decorate our coastline, the wind nor the rain could falter their gusto.

“Over the four days a combined weight of 52.2kg was collected from the beaches of Coldingham, Linkim, Killiedraughts and Eyemouth. The total number of litter items removed from the four beaches equated to 1,760 of which 1,329 pieces were plastic, the plastic corresponding to 75.5% of all rubbish collected.

“Plastic remains to be the most ubiquitous and insidious marine litter item found within the marine reserve; it not only disturbs the natural beauty of the beaches, it compounds with other anthropogenic pollutants to pose serious health implications to marine species.”

The VMR has been collaborating with artist Julia Barton on her ‘Littoral Art Project’, which aims to investigate and spread awareness about marine plastics. Julia uses specific marine plastics to construct her “litter cubes” which will tour Scotland.

“We have been collecting fishing line, cable ties and cotton bud sticks to contribute to her cubes,” added Lyle. “The exhibition is set to make a tour of Scotland and will call in at Eyemouth once the litter cubes have been constructed.

The VMR is continuing its beach clean programme, with beach cleans occurring on March 18, and April 5 (Coldingham), April 6 (Linkim), April 7 (Killiedraughts) and April 8 (Eyemouth).

“We really want to increase the local presence within our cleans, so if you live in Berwickshire and want to help maintain our beaches and protect the marine life, come and join us!

“Additionally, the VMR is collaborating with Sea the Change and will be co-hosting environmental events such as the Great Global Nurdle Hunt on February 15, 10am at Coldingham beach and Divers against Debris on March 23, in Eyemouth.”

The Great Nurdle Hunt is the brainchild of East Lothian based environmental charity Fidra. It aims to end industrial plastic pellet or ‘nurdle’ pollution into Scottish seas.

Nurdles are small plastic pellets about the size of a lentil and billions are used each year to make nearly all our plastic products. Many end up washing up on our shores through spills and mishandling by industry. Unlike large pieces of plastic marine litter, nurdles are so small that they go largely unnoticed. However scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about their effect on our delicate marine ecosystem.

Sea the Change’s ‘Plastics Free Eyemouth campaign aims to bring the whole community together to meet the five ‘plastic free’ objectives as defined by the national campaign.

These include; getting local councils involved, working with local companies and businesses, involving community groups and individuals, creating a local steering group to continue the work and setting up community events so that folks can spread the word and simply have some fun with it all.

Locally the campaign by the not-for-profit organiasation Sea the Change, went live on social media just before the end of 2018 and it has been gaining ground ever since.

“The great news is that progress is already being made, with many of the local businesses, groups and members of the public being on board,” said local organiser Alice Fisher.

“At Eyemouth High school two students, Max O’Neil and Adam Holland, signed up as Sea The Change crew and have been leading efforts for change within the school. Their aim is for Eyemouth High School to achieve the status of ‘plastic free’.

“This title is awarded when a business or organisation eliminates at least three single-use plastic items as part of the ‘Plastic Free Communities’ campaign.

“Max and Adam report that already plastic cutlery has been eliminated, plastic wraps replaced by paper wraps, individual sauce sachets replaced with multi-use bottles and there has been a reduction in the use of single-use plastic bottles.

Alice Fisher, added: “We are delighted to see the community’s response to the changes that have been taking place in Eyemouth. There’s enough momentum in the community to make this a reality and we believe that by keeping it simple people feel more empowered to take action.

“It is important to emphasise that the idea is not to eliminate plastic completely, but to work towards replacing single-use items with available alternatives: bamboo cutlery, paper bags, refillable sauce bottles and salt and pepper grinders. These are all examples of alternatives that could be introduced quickly. Sea The Change hopes to continue to harness the energy and enthusiasm of local schools, businesses, community groups and members of the public. They also hope to see Scottish Borders Council leading by example in eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics from public buildings.”

Date of the next beach clean by St Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve is March 18 followed by: Coldingham - April 5; Linkim - April 6; Killiedraughts - April 7; Eyemouth - April 8.