The Isle of Arran in Scotland has been recognised as the first ‘Plastic Free Community’ due to work by residents to reduce the use of single-use plastic on the island.
Marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage said it was ‘stoked’ to announce the Isle was awarded the prestigious status.
The recognition follows a campaign set up by a group of residents in February 2018 in response to heightened public awareness around ocean plastic and the damage it is doing to the marine environment.
The group ‘Think About Plastic – Arran’ (TAP-Arran) was formed to create a focus for the campaign’s work.
TAP-Arran pulled together key organisations and businesses on the Island to put in place SAS’s five-point plan.
The objectives included:
- Setting up a community-led steering group
- Getting commitment from North Ayrshire council
- Signing up local businesses
- Reaching out to community groups and individuals
- Spreading the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics used
Helen How, Chair of TAP-Arran, said: “We are delighted by the support we have experienced from residents and businesses. Everybody can take simple and effective action to minimise usage of single use plastic items.”
Arran attracts over 400,000 visitors a year who explore its beautiful countryside.
Tourism-based businesses have led the way in demonstrating what can be done to reduce plastic usage.
Action by accommodation providers includes:
- Reusable water bottles to replace single use mineral water
- Soap and solid shampoo to replace mini-shower gel and shampoo bottles
- Providing guests with fresh milk to replace mini pots of UHT milk
TAP has organised two events in the past year that highlighted the effects of plastic waste on marine life. There was also an Arran-wide beach clean in the Autumn.
How continued: “Having gained this accreditation from SAS, we will continue to expand the campaigning to include more businesses and get the message out to the many visitors Arran attracts.
“Arran’s residents are proud of their environment and we want everybody to know that we care and take positive action to protect where we live.
“Using items made of plastic is something we all do every day. The aim of TAP is to get people thinking about what they can do to move away from the careless use of disposable plastic.”
Arran-based councillors Timothy Billings and Ellen McMaster added in a statement: “North Ayrshire Council is committed to minimising the use of single use plastic and recognises TAP-Arran as an important ally in this work. We are delighted that TAP has gained this accreditation for Arran.”
Surfers Against Sewage
The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to free the environment from single-use plastic.
Using the five point plan, the aim is to empower communities to kick start local grass-roots action, which can then be built upon.
The group said in a statement: “We want to unite communities to tackle avoidable plastic from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it.
“It is not about removing all plastic from our lives but kicking our addiction to throwaway plastic and changing the system that produces it.”
‘Leading the way’
Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, added: “It’s great to see Arran leading the way in Scotland as the community works to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.”
“We have over four hundred communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment. 33 of those are in Scotland and we hope Arran’s Plastic Free Approved status will now encourage more to sign up!
“Every step these communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit changes we need to see.”
Find out more about TAP-Arran here.