from little ripples
mighty waves flow
Honouring our journey
City to Sea was founded in 2015 – the year our home City of Bristol was European Green Capital. Back, in the beginning, there was Nat, our founder. Nat had her plastic awakening in 2014 when she came across the trailer for the film Albatross and decided she had to do something about plastic pollution.
Nat had a full-time job in TV at the time, so set about getting City to Sea flowing in her spare time, initially with a crowdfunding campaign for a music video, followed by a series of ‘open space’ workshops in Bristol to get a sense of the scale of the problem locally.
Meeting likeminded people
Around this time, Nat met Livvy Drake, aka Green Livvy, a sustainability consultant who was also on a mission to stop plastic pollution and Gus Hoyt, a local Green councillor and ex Assistant Mayor for Bristol. Following a City-wide initiative on plastic, it was agreed that more needed to be done in Bristol to get Bristolians off the ‘plastic bottle’ and the idea for a city-wide Refill scheme was born.
After lots of research, trialling different community-led behaviour change models – including speaking to local Bude-based activist and schoolteacher, Deb Rosser, who had set up a ReFILL project, with funding from BeachCare – we launched Refill Bristol in 2015; thanks to funding from Bristol Green Capital 2015.
Introducing the first Refill app!
Sponsorship from Bristol Water shortly followed and in 2016 we won the Geovation Water Challenge. This incubator programme enabled us to develop the world’s first water Refill app, overseen by Gus, that would scale up Refill across the UK.
Tackling cotton buds
Whilst all this was happening, Nat met Michelle Cassar (aka #BeingPALL – Plastic A Lot Less) a surfer, professional photographer and plastic campaigner who’d been living on the West Coast of Portugal. She’d been preventing plastic pollution at source on a personal level and within her local community since 2008 and had recently moved to Bristol. Nat had the idea to try to tackle plastic pollution from cotton buds, so her and Michelle focused on what was to become their award-winning #SwitchtheStick campaign while Gus focused on building the Refill campaign.
Following the success of #SwitchTheStick, Michelle became our Creative Director, providing us with fantastic photographic images and creating some of our most iconic videos, including #PlasticFreePeriods video viewed 2.9 million times. As well as public engagement and speaking events.
The Early years
As the old adage (that we made up) goes, ‘from little ripples, mighty waves flow’, and this couldn’t be truer in our case. The hard work in the early years (before plastic pollution was mainstream news and before the media and our government leaders were ‘onboard’ and before the ‘Blue Planet effect’) by our original team members is the reason City to Sea exists today – and for that, we’re hugely grateful!