Is your setting ready to become a Plastic Free Champion?

By Andi Turner

7th November 2018

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We’re making quite a difference in our town. Dare I say it, but I think our little part of the big, wide world is beginning to look pretty wonderful. Who knew that Hartlepool has everything on its doorstep: gorgeous beaches, beautiful country walks, a fabulous marina and picture perfect villages? But behind it all is an unsung army of volunteers beavering away behind the scenes keeping them all looking totally awesome.

Andi Turner - volunteers street cleaning

Volunteers in Hartlepool keeping the streets tidy

Dog owners taking away bags of litter scattered around over-crammed bins on their housing estates. Childminders and their little ones picking up plastic bottles on the school run. Families filling bags with disposable cups at the seaside. And not only that, but we’re putting a sense of pride back into our streets and keeping them pristine too. Just keeping our own frontage nice makes such a huge difference, and even the dog owners among us are leaving out poo bags for any dog walkers caught short on their walks. Even those without dogs are keeping the street clean by picking up any dog poo left at the end of their drives. It’s not a nice thing to do when you don’t even have a dog of your own, but having a clean street wins over.

Andi Turner - keeping beaches tidy

Volunteers have been working hard to keep the local beaches litter-free

We have more community initiatives here in Hartlepool than you can shake a stick at, with Neat Street; The Big Town Tidy Up; the Hartlepool Beaches Action Group and then there’s the marvellous Plastic Free Hartlepool – who not only actively encourage us to keep our streets, beaches, woods, villages and town neat and tidy, but also encourage local businesses to help us buy less bottled water by topping up the plastic water bottles we already have for free, and to help them reduce the amount of plastic they not only use in their day-to-day business, but also that which they offer to their customers. Things like plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers, and take-out cups that at first sight seem to be recyclable but have a plastic film layer inside. We’ve got some superb little eateries in the town who are leading the way and it’s become so unconscionable to use plastic these days, that any cafés or restaurants that aren’t plastic-free are in danger of being boycotted.

And we at Andi Turner’s Early Years Education & Childcare are absolutely delighted that we’ve become the very first early years setting in the town to be Plastic Free Champions. We’ve made many changes but we’re the first to admit that there’s still more to look at. It starts simply enough: looking for bars of soap that aren’t wrapped in plastic; sterilising jam jars for storing leftovers in rather than zip lock bags; folding used nappies up really, really tightly and fitting 3 into a biodegradable nappy sack at a time; replacing tubs of butter with paper-wrapped blocks. It feels pretty much like stepping back in time and fits in seamlessly with the make-do-and-mend mentality. We’ve still got a way to go, but we’ve signed the pledge to keep replacing plastic nasties with more sustainable and kinder, planet-friendly alternatives.

Is your setting ready to be a Plastic Free Champion too?

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