Why design agency, Social Ink, partnered with City to Sea

As part of the #PlasticFreetravel campaign, Gareth who is Head of Content at Social INK – a digital marketing and social media marketing consultancy,  tells us why tackling plastic pollution is important and why Social Ink wanted to partner with City to Sea in this guest blog.

Here’s the thing. Beach holidays in the Mediterranean are great. Guaranteed sun. Delicious cuisine. A nightlife and day temperature that make siestas compulsory. Sun. Sea. Heads buried in the sand?

You see, with all these wonderful distractions, it’s easy to forget the impact our travel is having on the environment we seek out to enjoy. Once we’re in ‘holiday mode’ it becomes easier to neglect the responsibilities we are committed to in our normal daily lives.

‘No drinking on a school night’, quickly becomes, drinking throughout the day and well into the night. Because “we’re on holiday”. We eat out every meal. We move a lot less. We enjoy too much sun. We buy water in plastic bottles. Why not? It’s way cheaper than back home. We do things differently because we’re on holiday. Our standards slide. It’s a treat. It’s fine. It’s convenient.

But some of the things we do, when everyone does them, have a compounding ripple effect that contributes to a much larger problem. Plastic waste is filling up the seas, breaking down into microscopic particles and washing up on the beaches we choose to visit on our holidays. The Med sees a 40% spike in marine litter every year because of tourists.

Everyone at Social INK felt we needed to do something to help ‘raise the bar’ on attitudes to travel.

Stop. Collaborate. And Listen.

It all started with winning the #PlasticFreeTravel brief that City to Sea ran with One Minute Briefs on Twitter. Reducing the amount of plastic, we use is a cause close to our hearts, so it was a brief we were keen to get involved with. And it’s an inspiring topic: almost everyone takes a holiday over the summer. Have you considered how much plastic you use when you’re not at home?

In response to the brief, we devised the ‘Raise the Bar’ concept. An advert designed to champion soap bars. Soap bars existed long before plastic-bottled liquid soap, doing exactly the same job at a fraction of the environmental impact. Not only did it make sense to make the humble bar of soap the ‘face’ of plastic-free travel, but we felt it also served as a reminder of small changes we could all make at home to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment.

The concept really resonated with the team at City to Sea, and on social media with our own network and the One Minute Briefs community.

The Social INK #PlasticFreeTravel Campaign

To show our support of City to Sea’s #PlasticFreeTravel campaign, we created a series of four concepts in the style of our original One Minute Briefs winning ad, as well as some GIFs for good measure — everyone likes a good GIF on social media!

Keep an eye out for these concepts across City to Sea’s social media channels as well as Social INK’s. If you check the #PlasticFreeTravel streams, leave a message. Tell us, City to Sea, and the wider world how you’re planning to travel plastic-free. Share pics of your plastic-free efforts. And encourage others to do the same.

There are a few competitions where you get a chance to win a #PlasticFreeTravel starter kit, too!

A special thanks at this point needs to also go to designer and fellow One Minute Brief particiapnt, Rich Bayley who came up with the “SPF 12.7” idea used above. 

Every small change. Every little effort. Every conscious decision to bypass plastic helps reduce the impact we’re having on our environment, giving us a better chance of completely cleaning up our act.

Are you ready to raise the bar?

Read more about how you can get involved with the #PlasticFreeTravel campaign here.

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You spoke, will government listen?

Today we handed in our petition calling for government to only send plastic-free period products into schools! Thanks to you, more than 37,000 people signed our petition, and well over 100 teachers declared their support for this premise.

We’ll keep you updated on the response from the newly appointed Education Secretary, but for now you can have a read of the letter we sent him:

Dear Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP,

Please find enclosed a petition signed by 37,112 people and a letter signed by over 100 teachers asking the Department of Education to only purchase plastic-free period products for schools. To save resources we have printed 18 pages of signatures on each sheet of paper, but we have also emailed the full PDF document.

In April 2019 We wrote to the former Education Secretary to welcome the government’s commitment to both tackling period poverty and eliminating single-use plastics in schools. We wrote specifically to seek clarification that the free period products that were to be provided to schools would be plastic-free, especially since government challenged schools to go plastic-free by 2022.

Here in the UK a staggering 4.3 billion disposable menstrual products are used every year! Many people don’t realise that most period pads (including Always, Bodyform and most supermarket own-brands) can contain up to 90% plastic – the equivalent of five plastic bags per pack of pads. Most tampons also contain a thin layer of plastic. What’s more, although no period products should go down the toilet, it’s estimated around 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed down the toilet every day in the UK – many of which block our sewer systems and escape into our rivers and seas.

We were therefore delighted to read the Department for Education’s response to our concerns in an article from Schools Week saying that the successful bidder for the schools contract “will be required to offer environmentally-friendly sanitary pads as a minimum, and are encouraged to provide further environmentally-friendly options (such as menstrual cups or eco-friendly tampons)”.

We were further heartened to read a response from Nadhim Zahawi MP to a Written Question from Alistair Carmichael MP that:

“consideration will be given to the extent to which the materials used in the products are sustainable, whether the products are biodegradable and whether the products are reusable.”

We hope therefore, in light of the Government’s commitment to eliminate single-use plastic from schools, the public commitment to sourcing ‘environmentally friendly pads’ that are ‘biodegradable’, the wide-spread public support illustrated through the 38 Degrees petition enclosed and the call from teaching professionals (as illustrated by the enclosed joint letter), that you will ensure that all period products going into schools will be plastic-free.

We look forward to hearing confirmation from you, and of course, we are willing to support and celebrate your positive work in this area moving forward in ensuring plastic-free period products are rolled out in English schools.

Yours Sincerely,

Jasmine Tribe

Campaigns Coordinator

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Press Release: Welcoming the removal of mini toiletries from Holiday Inn hotels.

The plastic pollution campaigning organisation, City to Sea, are today celebrating the news that all hotels run by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) will remove mini toiletries from their rooms. The move will see hotels chains such as Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels taking the small single-use plastic bottles out of its 843,000 rooms by 2021.

The news comes following the launch of City to Sea’s #PlasticFreeTravel campaign that seeks to make plastic-free travel easier and cheaper for holiday goers and includes working with hotels to encourage them to use refillable dispensers in bathrooms. Plastic pollution from holidays is a major issue with an estimated 40% surge in marine litter entering the Mediterranean during the summer months. Further research estimates that 980 tonnes of mini-plastic shampoo bottles are being dumped by British holidaymakers abroad each year – that’s equivalent to two-and-a-half Boeing 747s.

Responding to the news City to Sea founder Natalie Fee commented,

“This is fantastic news. Holiday Inn has taken a huge step in reducing their plastic footprint and in doing so are sending a message to the hotel industry that removing single-use plastic toiletries is a good business move as well as a sound environmental one. Concern for the environment is at an all-time high, with plastic pollution being top of the list, so they needed to take action to keep customers happy.”

She continued, “The pressure is really mounting now for those hotels who still give out these tiny bottles of shampoo. We’ve been working with hotel chains like Premier Inn who already have dispensers in their bathrooms, Marriott Hotels announced last year they were getting rid of them, and now we have Holiday Inn on board too. Any hotels that still using single-use miniatures need to catch up and get behind our plastic-free travel campaign.”

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#PlasticFreeTravel Case Study – Premier Inn

Helping travellers take a break from plastic

We believe hotels can play a vital role in helping people travel plastic-free. Our partner Premier Inn is the UK’s largest hotel brand, with more than 76,000 rooms and over 800 hotels across the country. It’s doing some great things to reduce plastic pollution & we hope that others will be inspired by its leadership across our four key areas of best practice:

  1. Being on track to meet the EU Single-Use Plastic Directive in 2021

Premier Inn recognises the issue of plastic and packaging across the value chain and has been working to reduce it.

It has already removed all single-use plastic straws from its hotels and restaurants, eliminating over 10 million pieces of single-use plastic in the process. Premier Inn has also removed all single-use plastic stirrers from its hotels and restaurant brands, together with plastic cutlery from its dine-in restaurant brands.  By inviting customers to dine in at their restaurant brands, they also avoid unnecessary plastic by using crockery instead of takeaway food containers.

Yvonne Mason, Environment Manager says: ‘We are currently measuring the amount of plastics and packaging used across our supply chain. This will allow us to identify possible alternatives and understand where we can make the most impactful change to remove avoidable single-use plastic from our business.’

2. Signing up to the Refill app & not offering plastic bottled water in rooms.

Whitbread’s 800 Premier Inn hotels (excluding their 10 ‘Hub’ branded hotels) are signed up to the award-winning Refill app & have a policy of not offering plastic bottled water in guest rooms. The commitment to Refill means customers & members of the public can ask the team for their reusable water bottle to be refilled.

As a natural next step, Premier Inn decided to go above and beyond by issuing all new starters with a reusable bottle in Premier Inn, adding to the 6,000 reusable bottles it had already distributed to its operations & support centre staff.

Rosana Elias, Head of Sustainability at Whitbread PLC says: ‘By offering all staff a reusable bottle we can ensure we’re a Force for Good for our teams, promoting positive behaviour change and reducing single-use plastic waste at work and at home.’

3. Using refillable dispensers in bathrooms

Research commissioned by Direct Line Travel Insurance in 2018 estimates that each year British tourists throw away over 43 million travel minis.

Hotels can ensure they aren’t adding to this problem by providing guests with toiletries from refillable dispensers instead of miniature plastic bottles.

Premier Inn has been leading the way on this from the outset, fitting rooms with dispensers to cut soap waste as well as plastic pollution.

4. Inspiring guests/staff to prevent plastic pollution via comms & marketing activity

Premier Inn regularly updates its teams across the country on its Force for Good initiatives and how it is progressing against nine commitments, including relevant projects, such as Refill. Premier Inn has also actively promoted Refill externally across its social media channels, most recently supporting us with content for LinkedIn on National Refill Day.

Why is this issue important to Premier Inn & the wider hotel industry?

Premier Inn recognises the serious environmental concerns over the use of single-use plastic in the hotel industry and the impact it can have on communities. Rosana says: ‘We have to act now to address this and as the UK’s biggest hotel business and one of the UK’s biggest employers, we recognise our responsibility and opportunity to drive and support this action.

‘By supplying our team members with the means to reduce their own personal use of single-use plastic and by working to continue to reduce the amount of avoidable single-use plastic our guests and customers use as part of their brand experience, we can have a positive impact.

‘As we move forward, we recognise the challenge of interrogating our supply chain and working to understand how and where single-use plastic is used. We’re committed to working together with our suppliers to drive innovative solutions to reduce our environmental impact and are excited to see how much more of a Force for Good we can be.

‘It’s one step at a time, but we have a clear goal and we urge other hotel businesses to follow suit – the more of us who are willing to make a change will only make the transition to a single-use plastic-free world more attainable.’

What’s next on plastic for Premier Inn?

Yvonne says: ‘We’re dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment and whilst we already recycle all recyclable packaging and divert 100% of our waste from landfill, we know there is more to be done.

‘We are currently reviewing our entire value chain to map plastics and packaging across the estate. We’re working closely with our suppliers to innovate new solutions in line with future legislation and our aim to reduce avoidable single-use plastic across our business.’

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How can hotels make #PlasticFreeTravel easier for their guests?  

Hotels have a crucial part to play in #PlasticFreeTravel, helping guests continue their plastic-free journey while they’re away, or inspiring them to take their first break away from plastic.

Yet on many occasions hotels can be part of the plastic problem – offering toiletries in miniature plastic bottles, handing out plastic bottles of water in countries where the tap water is safe to drink or continuing to use plastic straws, cutlery or stirrers.

With our best practice partner, Premier Inn, we’re going to be encouraging the hotel industry to commit to our four areas of best practice this summer:

  1. Being on track to meet the EU Single Use Plastic Directive by 2021
  2. Signing up to the Refill app offering free tap water refills to guests & the public and not offering plastic bottled water in rooms
  3. Using refillable dispensers in bathrooms (or committing to do so by 2021)
  4. Inspiring guests/staff to prevent plastic pollution via comms & marketing activity

‘It’s one step at a time, but we have a clear goal and we urge other hotel businesses to follow suit – the more of us who are willing to make a change will only make the transition to a single use plastic free world more attainable.’ Rosana Elias, Head of Sustainability, Whitbread

Our case study on Premier Inn (the UK’s largest hotel chain) shows that hotels can do their bit to enable #PlasticFreeTravel –  with their millions of guests they are already making a huge difference.

Premier Inn is active in all four areas of best practice in the following ways:

  • Removed single-use plastic straws, stirrers & cutlery.
  • Signed up to the Refill app so guests can refill their reusable bottles with tap water.
  • No plastic bottled water in guest rooms.
  • Refillable dispensers in bathrooms not plastic mini toiletries.
  • Inspiring staff to adopt a refill mindset by given them reusable water bottles.

Get in touch with City to Sea’s Partnerships Manager, Rowen West-Henzell [email protected] to find out how your hotel can join the growing #PlasticFreeTravel movement.

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Plastic Free Transport Hubs

Plastic-Free Travel on the go

Do you want to depart from plastic pollution this summer?

We know travel is one of the biggest barriers to us using reusable bottles and refilling on the go. Almost half of us that regularly carry a reusable water bottle say we are most likely to buy plastic bottled water when at the airport and 36% said the same thing about train stations.

This summer travel hubs from train stations to airports are helping you stay hydrated and prevent plastic pollution when you’re travelling. City to Sea is working with transport hubs like airports and train stations as part of our #PlasticFreeTravel Campaign.

#PlasticFreeTravel taking off at airports

We are delighted to have Heathrow – Europe’s busiest airport and the UK’s largest – signed up as an official partner.  The scale and potential for saving plastic from ending up as plastic pollution by working with Heathrow is huge.  If every passenger in Heathrow departures lounge refilled a bottle instead of buying a single-use plastic bottle, Heathrow could reduce its plastic bottle consumption by over 35 million bottles a year!

We have worked with Heathrow to install over 100 water fountains across the airport. They are signposted and located near toilets for anyone to fill up their water bottles. We’re working with Heathrow to make sure all these fountains can be found on our Refill app!

Not only this, but we’re also engaging with their many cafes, restaurants and lounges to encourage them to be listed on the app and proudly showing the Refill sticker where possible. Anywhere in Heathrow, if you’ve got the bottle, you can Refill it.

But there is still more (much more) to be done.  Raising awareness that you can take an empty bottle through airport security and, usually, refill it at the other end. And we are working with Heathrow to improve their signage and communications to make sure that all Refill points – and drainage points – are clearly signposted.

During our #PlasticFreeTravel campaign this summer we are reaching out to airports up and down the country looking to challenge them to pledge to help their passengers cut out plastics. Simply we are asking airports to:

  1. Provide an empty sink before security, so passengers can empty their water bottles before goign through.
  2. Promote the fact that reusable bottles can be taken through security, through avenues such as signage before security, and working with ticketing and travel companies to prompt passengers to pack their reusable water bottle at the same time as reminding them to check-in online.
  3. Install water fountains or hydration stations around the terminals where passengers can easily and quickly find free drinking water.

To this end, City to Sea will be hosting a roundtable event alongside the Airport Operators Association and the Department for Transport, providing a best practice guidance so all airports can find out how easy it is to roll out the Refill Campaign. The rountable will be held on the 10th September 2019.

This summer, if you do fly (we strongly encourage you not to!) then make sure your water bottle is the first thing you pack into your hand luggage.

Reducing plastic waste at train stations is on track

City to Sea is working with Network Rail to have fountains installed in 19 of Britain’s largest railway stations, which have already saved the equivalent of over a million plastic bottles.

We’re pretty excited about this. And as Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said, “This is a great start and shows that passengers share our passion to reduce single-use plastic…I’m pleased to say we’re making it even easier for people using our stations to refill their bottles too.”

And that’s the name of the game here – making it easy for you (yes you!) to travel with less plastic. With Pret, Starbucks, Costa and so many more high street brands now signed up to Refill there is always going to be a Refill point close by major train stations.

Sadly, not quite full steam ahead

Although a few train operating companies are looking into this, water refills are still not available on any train – so if it’s a long journey I’m afraid you’ll have to pack all the water you need to stay away from plastic bottles.  So, remember to Refill at the station before you leave.

#PlasticFreeTravel campaign

Our #PlasticFreeTravel campaign this summer is demanding every station in the top 100 to have a place to Refill your water bottles and have these logged on the Refill app by April 2020. This is why City to Sea has partnered with Sustain (Sugarsmart campaign) to put together the Drinking Water Fountains ‘How To’ guide, which is the first comprehensive guidance of its kind specifically for the UK.

In addition, we’re challenging a UK Train Operating Company to be the first to offer easily accessible, free tap water refills on board a train. Watch this space and all aboard the #PlasticFreeTravel #RefillRevolution!

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Plastic Free Travel at Hotels

Ethical tourism

The impact that plastics have on our shared oceans and the natural world is a core reason why we created our #PlasticFreeTravel campaign. But for those looking to travel with a smaller environmental footprint there’s more to consider than just our use of plastic. Here are some positive, proactive steps you can take to travel more lightly on the planet.

  1. Fly Less

The problem with flying is that it allows us to travel huge distances cheaply and quickly. Estimates vary, but roughly, one return long haul flight will use about 4 tonnes of carbon. That’s 20 times the carbon saving in doing a year’s worth of recycling. Or to put this another way, every person in the UK is currently using around 8.5 tonnes of carbon per year – and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research says we need to cut emissions by 90% by 2050 – so this means that every person in the UK would need to use around 1 tonne of carbon per year – clearly impossible if you include a flight.

According to the Stern Report, the total annual CO2 emissions from aviation is about 600-700 million tonnes – a 2-3% share of global CO2 emissions. The UK’s CO2 emissions from aviation doubled between 1990 and 2000 and are expected to double again by 2030. Aviation is currently the fastest-growing contributor to CO2 emissions.

Any flights we take contribute to this problem. The best way to reduce your flight emissions is to fly less, for example by pledging not to take any flights in 2020 (a campaign run by Flight Free UK).

For those flights that you do take we would strongly encourage you to look to offset the flight. We would recommend you offset any essential flights through a quality-assured carbon-offsetting scheme, such as through carbonfootprint.com or the brilliant atmosfair.de.

And remember it’s system change we need to stop climate change, so check out the brilliant “A Free Ride” campaign that looks to change the way flights are taxed to help most of us who don’t take more than one flight a year!

But most importantly keep in mind, life isn’t just about the destination – it’s about the journey!

  1. Give cruise ships a wide berth

It’s thought that The Queen Mary II emits 0.43kg of CO2 per passenger mile as opposed to 0.257kg for a long-haul flight. According to the Telegraph, Carnival, in its environmental report states that its ships, on average, release 712.kg of CO2 per kilometre. This is 36 times greater than the carbon footprint of a Eurostar passenger and more than three times that of someone travelling on a standard Boeing 747.

In addition to airborne pollution cruise ships also produce a great deal of waste and rubbish. It is estimated that every passenger produces 3.5 kilograms of rubbish daily as opposed to 0.8 kilograms generated by people onshore.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, many people will fly to the start of their cruises. This is a very unsustainable way to holiday!

  1. Alternative ways to travel

By travelling less distance you reduce your carbon footprint and you can make lower-carbon transport more feasible. If you’re travelling to mainland Europe try using the Loco2 app that makes booking trains across the entirety of Europe a quick and easy affair. And if you’re travelling (almost) anywhere in the world, the legendary Seat61.com will tell you how to get there overland.

Or why not make the travel part of the holiday through overnight trains or even a cycling holiday (try Intrepid Travel).

  1. Spend local and eat local

Wherever you holiday, seek out local independent activities and food outlets. A study by the World Tourism Organization found that $100 spent during a trip, only $5 benefits the destination. Food shopping in local markets rather than supermarkets also means it is much easier to avoid pointless plastic packaging.

After all, there are worse things than a sipping a glass of Bordeaux in the Saint-Pierre district of the city, or to nibble a freshly baked waffle marvelling at the Grand Place in Brussels. And by a happy coincidence, you can get to both, and a growing number of destinations directly from London, by high-speed train with Eurostar.

  1. Seek out best practice

There are lots of ethical and green travel companies out there that can help guide you through these dilemmas. And here are some ethical and green holiday essentials to buy before you travel. We’re not suggesting everyone should stay in yurts in the Peak District, but we are saying that some small decisions can make a big difference.

Happy holiday folks! And big up the staycations.

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Plastic Free Travel Bundle


We want YOUR best #PlasticFreeTravel tips.

Enjoying #PlasticFreeTravel isn’t just about doing the right thing, it is about being able to inspire change in others, so we want to know how you’re travelling with less plastic or plastic-free this *summer! Share your best #PlasticFreeTravel tips and tricks with us on social media for your chance to win a bundle of plastic-free travel goodies!

  • Tell us how you’re travelling plastic-free (from filling up your reusable bottle at the airport to switching to an entirely plastic-free toiletries bag, we want to hear what steps you’re taking to make the switch to plastic-free travel)
  • Share photos to show us if you can
  • Include the hashtag #PlasticFreeTravel

It’s easy to enter, just head to the competition posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and follow the instructions.

Full terms and conditions can be found here.

*Competition closes 24th August 2019. Winner will be selected in the last week of August to win a bundle of #PlasticFreeTravel goodies from our shop.

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PRESS RELEASE: Pressure mounts on government to provide plastic-free period products to schools  

Pressure mounts on government to provide plastic-free period products to schools 

In less than one weeks’ time, on July 15th, the government tender for brands to supply schools with period products closes. Currently there is no obligation for period products to be plastic-free, or for the supplier to offer reusables. Ensuring schools are provided plastic-free products could prevent the equivalent of 90 million plastic bags[1] flooding schools just months after the government challenged UK schools to go plastic-free by 2022 [2].

Plastic pollution campaigning organisation, City to Sea, are warning that there are only 7 days left to make sure all period products offered as part of the new Government initiative will be plastic-free. A statement was made by the Department of Education half way through the process in Schools Week saying that the successful bidder “will be required to offer environmentally-friendly sanitary pads as a minimum, and are encouraged to provide further environmentally-friendly options (such as menstrual cups or eco-friendly tampons)”.

The government urgently needs to clarify that the ambiguously phrased ‘environmentally-friendly’ includes plastic-free requirements and ensure that all disposable products offered are plastic-free, not just pads, and not just as an opt-in.  As a result, City to Sea are calling on the general public to sign a petition [3] to the Department of Education that requests they use joined up thinking in tackling social and environmental issues.  So far City to Sea have successfully gained the support of 30,000 people and over 100 teachers have signed a public letter to the Department of Education [4].

Rachel Carson, a Primary school teacher said: “There is a gaping hole in general understanding of the plastic problem and school is a great place to start making a difference. Providing plastic-free period products to combat period poverty seems like a golden opportunity to lift girls out of embarrassment and shame whilst simultaneously investing in their future. Plastics are derived from oil, so why the government would not make this a priority having recently declared a climate emergency, is beyond me.”

Jasmine Tribe, Plastic Free Periods campaigns co-ordinator said: “This is a key opportunity for our government to show that they’re serious about tackling plastic pollution. Joined up thinking is so vital when tackling social issues like period poverty and environmental issues like climate breakdown. 

She continued, “More pressure is needed now to make government clarify that ‘environmentally-friendly’ includes plastic-free requirements and ensure that all disposable products offered are plastic-free, not just pads, and not just as an opt-in. We cannot let the government miss this opportunity to provide a long term, financially and environmentally sustainable solution for students and the planet.”


Notes to Editor

1) Why is this so important? 

The government has made three promising commitments recently: 

It seems that departments in government are potentially putting our schools on a collision course with the green targets that they have set them. They are turning this momentous moment for women’s rights into an environmental disaster. By ensuring all period products in English schools are plastic-free the Department of Education will be supporting future generations and targets for all schools to be single use plastic free by 2022. 

This why City to Sea launched a 38 Degrees petition that has already received over 30,000 signatures. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/plastic-free-schools-need-plastic-free-periods#  


2) Further quotes available from social media influencers Flora Beverley and Sophie Hellyer and 2 additional teachers who have signed the letter. Please contact [email protected]  


3) About City to Sea  – City to Sea is an award-winning not-for-profit campaigning to prevent plastic pollution at source.  Through their fun, solutions-focused initiatives they are empowering individuals to make a difference in their communities, working with companies and retailers to help them tackle plastic pollution and reaching millions of people with our digital content and campaigns. They are behind award-winning campaigns like Refill, a campaign to connect people to free drinking water and Switch the Stick.  


City to Sea was founded by environmental campaigner, Natalie Fee in 2015. https://www.citytosea.org.uk/  


4) About Plastic Free Periods – City to Sea’s Plastic Free Periods campaign aims to prevent plastic pollution from our periods by a) mainstreaming reusable and plastic-free disposable products and b) raising awareness that no period products should be flushed. 


Plastic Free Periods was launched in 2017 with a video that was viewed over 3 million times in the few weeks after publishing on facebook 


In 2018 the campaign was featured on Women’s Hour, joined the Environmenstrual Coalition, ran online and offline events and reached 2 million people through the social media campaign. Our Women’s Hour slot saw sales from Honour Your Flow (reusable pads) triple in the 3 days following! 


In 2019 City to Sea secured funding for a nationwide, unbiased schools program, are investigating a pilot scheme in NHS Trusts and continuing to target retailers and manufacturers. 

5) Background information  


[1] Government estimates that “of the 1.7m pupils/students who are eligible to benefit from the scheme, we estimate that 1.1m will access this provision” https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/Attachment/78bdf755-9548-4261-b50e-30d4d3ae2a4b. The average person who has periods use 22 products per month and has 13 periods per year. A study by Natracare found the same plastic in a box of 14 period pads as 4 plastic bags. This means this scheme would use close to 23 million boxes of period products per year – or close to equivalent of 90 million plastic bags. 


[3] The petition is here:  



[4] The Government tender closing on July 15th can be seen here:  https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/[email protected]=NjJNT08=U   


[5] Here in the UK a staggering 4.3 billion disposable menstrual products are used every year. Many people don’t realise that most period pads (including Always, Bodyform and most supermarket own-brands) can contain up to 90% plastic – the equivalent of 4 plastic bags per box of pads and 90 million plastic bags sent to schools in just 1 year! Most tampons also contain a thin layer of plastic. What’s more, although no period products should go down the loo, it’s estimated around 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed down the toilet every day in the UK – many of which block our sewer systems and escape into our rivers and seas. 


In addition to the environmental benefits of providing plastic-free period products, a reusable product option provides immense cost savings over time and reduces ‘period poverty shame’ – those who require free products find it more dignified to do so every 2-10 years, as opposed to every month. Research shows that over a lifetime an individual can save up to 94% of what would have been spent on disposable products, by switching to reusable ones. 

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More than 100 Teachers sign Public Letter to the Department for Education

Don’t flood our schools with single-use plastic period products, we’re trying to go plastic-free by 2022!

We are a group of teachers from across the UK, writing to you because we’re concerned about the ability of our schools to go plastic-free as your Department has challenged us to do. We are writing today to offer a simple and effective way you could support us in trying to go plastic free.

As teachers we recognise the importance of tackling period poverty. As such we welcome the announcement in the Spring Budget stating that this government would provide free period products to all school-age girls in England. We are writing today to seek confirmation that this government will ensure that all period products purchased with government funds including all those sent to our UK schools will either be plastic-free disposables or reusable products. This simple action could prevent the equivalent of 90 million plastic bags worth of plastic flooding into our schools.

We know that many people with periods and retailers don’t realise that most period pads (including Lil-lets, Always, Tampax and most supermarkets own-brands) can contain up to 90% plastic – the equivalent of five plastic bags per pack of pads. Without your support on this issue we fear it may be impossible for our schools to go single-use plastic free as you have asked us to do.

With all this in mind, could you please reassure us that government will not be sending period products into our schools that contain plastic.

Thank you again for the commitments to tackle both period poverty and plastic pollution and if you would like to discuss any of this further please do not hesitate in getting in touch with City to Sea who would be delighted to support you in this process. 

Yours sincerely, 

Rachel Carson, Primary school teacher 

“There is a gaping hole in understanding the plastic  problem and school is a great place to start making a difference. Providing plastic-free period products to combat period poverty seems like a golden opportunity to lift girls out of embarrassment and shame whilst simultaneously investing in their future. Why the government would not make this a priority, having recently declared a climate emergency, is beyond me.” 

Saskia Boujo, Secondary school teacher 

“As a secondary PSHE teacher I am faced with the reality of young people not having access to menstrual products: misinformation, absenteeism, stigma around menstruation.  Schools have a duty to open up the conversation so young people can choose from the options available to them, as well as a duty to promote sustainability for better health and for better education. So this petition is at the heart of improving young people’s lives.”

Sasha Gibson, Deputy Principal, Sinclair House School

“It is the children of today, and years to come, who have the true power to make a difference and ‘save’ the world. It is therefore our role and responsibility as educators to equip them with the knowledge and understanding of our current climate emergency within our curriculums. Our recent whole-school ‘Save the World’ Spring Term focus highlighted how passionate our children feel towards supporting a healthier and more sustainable world. The introduction of plastic-free period products is therefore not something we should be discussing or arguing over but instead, implementing without delay.”

Alex Barnes Geography teacher Hayes
Alice Powell Year 1 TA London
Alice Thubron Deputy of English West London
Amirah Miller Science Teacher West London
Andy Symms Year 6 class teacher London
Anita Molnar Cover teacher Bristol Secondary
Annette Rook Headteacher Tower Hamlets
Ashley Johnson Teaching Assistant Local authority infant school
Bethan Sleep French and English Teacher Local Authority Secondary School, North Wales
Catherine Southard Preschool teacher A nursery in London
Chella Quint Former head of PSHE, Founder of Period Positive Sheffield
Coralie Skerman-Gray Early Years teacher Independent (Letchworth)
Daniel SImson Depuy Head teacher Sefton Park School
Debbie Green Swimming Teacher Special Needs School
Dr Sweetpea Smart Teacher rtd/Invigilator Yeovil Academies
Eddie Mulvey Guitar Teacher Heath House Prep
Eleanor Walker Class Teacher Primary School, Bristol
Emma Carson Maths Teacher Catholic College
Francesca Paul Year 5 class teacher London
Gail Kelly Bursar Sunderland
Georgia Hodges Geography teacher Feltham
Georgina Tilyard Citizenship Teacher
Georgina Wilson DT teacher West London
Gianna Colligiani Yr 1 and 2 TA Bristol
Grace Bagshaw Class teacher Local Authority Infant School
Greg Orme Design technology and STEM Priory School, Lewes
Hannah Rowley Head of KS2 Charles Williams School, Caerleon, Wales
Henry Greenwood Founder and Managing Director Green Schools Project
Iain Ross Maths teacher St John’s School, Cyprus (MoD)
Ian Thomas Nurture Lead (HLTA) Secondary SEND school
Janet Tidman School Administrator Primary School, Ipswich
Jenny Flaherty Teaching Assistant Local Authority Infant School
Jo Dunbar Year 1 class teacher Sinclair house school
Jo Taylor Director at education consultancy Bristol
Joanna Cunningham repetition class teacher London
Karen Lambert EY leader Local authority infant school
Kat Bailey School Governor Infant and Junior school, Derbyshire
Kate Powell Primary Teacher Bristol
Kelly Hally Assistant Head Teacher Nottingham
Laura Cooper English teacher Halifax
Laura McLoughlin Year 3 class teacher London
Laura Ollis class teacher Somerset
Lee Rooke Head of PSHE KSHS, Lincolnshire
Louise McKee Biology teacher 6th form college, Manchester
Madeline Barker TA Kent grammar school
Marina Dickings Sociology & PSHE Stowmarket High
Matthew Haas Head of Round Square/Teacher Independent (Kent)
Michelle Lowe FS1, FS2, KS1 and Base Lead
Natasha Dadds TA Sinclair house school
Nicola Underhill KS3 coordinator Halifax
Nicole Packham Class Teacher Arunside, Horsham
Palmirah Joa Head of Science West London
Pat Walmsley 1:1 tutor Primary School Bristol
Rachel Carson Class teacher Local authority infant school
Rebecca Balmer Primary Teacher Bristol
Rebecca Peters Behaviour Support Special Needs School
Robert Slinn Teacher of Humanities Secondary School
Ruari Craig-Wood Deputy Head of English Desborough College
Sam Ferrara Teaching Assistant Sinclair House School
Sarah Clarke Class Teacher Gloucestershire
Sarah Lancashire-Clark Teaching Assistant Norwich
Shaila uddin Year 2 class teacher Sinclair house school
Simon Hutchinson PE Teacher London
Sophie Carr English teacher Halifax
Stella Morgan School Counsellor/ therapist Primary School, Tottenham
Steven Williams Year 4 class teacher Brunel Field, Bristol
Stewart Life SLE/Lead Practitioner Hellesdon High
Terri – Louise Bevan TA Sinclair house school
Tina Hampton Drama Teacher Local Authority Secondary School
Tom Moggach Class Teacher Primary School, London
Tom Stacy-Marks Class teacher (Year 5) Primary School, Bristol
Victoria Hendry Psychology Stowmarket High
Sandi Cummings Retired Teacher Wiltshire
Katherine Wells MFL Teacher Stowmarket High School, Suffolk
Ruth Price Teaching Assistant Cumbria
Anna Wesson Teaching Assistant Primary School, Cardiff
Jim Lancaster DT Technician & Site Manager Hampshire
Ellen Kemp Governor London
Lindsay Allix Parent Devon
Richard Holt Retired Teacher London
Michael Parsons Retired Swansea
Peter Ryland Retired teacher Norfolk
Bryan Bullen Woodland Manager Special Needs school
Alice Griffith KS2 Teacher Oxfordshire
Chrissie O’Hanlon Maths Teacher Secondary School
Sophie Lyle MFL teacher Secondary School
Anthea Blake Teacher Special Needs School
John Hopper FE Lecturer London
Jonny Kirman Class teacher London (Secondary)
Christine Jose Retired working 9 hours a week Southend Primary
Rebecca Rundle KS3 Maths Coordinator London
Hilary Standen Retired Teacher Staffordshire
Sophie Parsons Class Teacher London (Secondary)
Michael Williams Class Teacher London (Secondary)
Joseph Fairbairn IT Manager West Sussex
Valerie Bevan Secondary school teacher Cambridge
Mary Sarju Secondary Maths teacher Croydon
Rae Helm Communications and Marketing Co-ordinator High Storrs School
Edd Moore Year 3 Teacher and Eco Coordinator Damers First School, Dorset
Kate Clifton Science teacher Essex
Ruth Rigby Teaching Assistant Essex
Steve Bushby Teaching Assistant Norfolk
Mira Cooke Advisory Teacher Surrey
Tom Greenwood Vice Principal Greenwich
Roya K Rezaee Retired Blackheath
David Green School Crossing Patrol Gravesend
Ann Klaus Retired Teacher London
Lesley Giles Senior Professional Tutor Milton Keynes
Martin Berger Music teacher Kingston upon Hull
Teresa English Special Needs Teacher Norfolk
Tracey Hand Mathematics Teacher Reading
Kate Jackson Year 1 Teacher Hertford
Lynne Morton Class teacher
Rebecca Balmer Class teacher
Kate Powell Class teacher
Melonie Syrett RSE Consultant and Menstrual Expert London and Essex
Sarah Reeves Class Teacher South Wales 117

To join the call for plastic-free period products in schools, sign our petition here!

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