A bloody success – free period products program launched in schools!

Both primary and secondary state schools and colleges in England can now order free period products as part of a government scheme to tackle period poverty amongst students. This is a bloody success for health rights, equal education and female empowerment and we want to extend a huge congratulations to the Free Period campaign who have been pushing this onto government agenda since April 2017!

This new system is based on the successful Scottish model - schools will be able to chose which period products to order through a credit-based portal created by the company Phs. Each school will have a budget and this budget can be spent in the way that best suits the needs of the pupils. Products will be provided in schools via a ‘basket solution’ in washrooms, via reception or via the well-being officer/ school nurse.

What products will be on offer?

We want to extend a huge thanks to the nearly 40,000 of you who signed our petition last year, calling on the Department for Education to only send plastic-free products to schools. Thanks to you, we managed to convince the Department to include environmental criteria in their tendering process, and now organic and reusable products are on offer!

- Standard tampons and pads from Proctor and Gamble

- Standard tampons and pads from Lil-lets

- Organic tampons and pads from Lil-lets

- Reusable pads from Bloom & Nora

- Menstrual cups from Mooncup

Does your school want to see more eco-friendly products on offer? Maybe paper applicator tampons or a reusable DAME applicator, period pants or another type of reusable pad? Phs have made it clear that this is a demand-led service, based on the needs of students and schools. If your school finds itself running out of credit, or wanting to provide different products to their students then Phs are open to feedback and dialogue.

You can find an email template to Phs about their product offering here (including their email address).

If you’re a member of school staff, there are 4 things to think about right now:

  • 1. Make sure your school admin team look out for an email from Phs to set up your account.
  • 2. Chat to the members of staff at your school responsible for ordering products. Explain the benefits of choosing organic disposable products and reusable products – for student health, for the planet and for long-term economic sustainability.
  • 3. Consider signing up to our FREE Rethink Periods training program. 600 PSHE teachers and school nurses across the UK will receive training, resources and a product demo box worth £120. Research and case studies from across the world show that period poverty schemes are most affective when combined with comprehensive period education.
  • 4. If you’d like to see more plastic-free and reusable products on offer through Phs, email them using our template, or write your own message. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to rise to the government challenge for schools to go plastic-free by 2022!

Support from teachers

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. Having recently declared a climate emergency, we should all make this a priority.” 

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. The plastic-free periods movement goes a long way to improve 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. Plastic-free period should be implemented without delay.”

Find out more

Find more information here about how to order products, what is on offer, your responsibilities, how to make products available, how to promote the scheme and relevant case studies. If you have any problems or struggle to reach Phs, you can phone them at: 01827 255500 or email: [email protected].

We hope that this scheme, alongside our education program Rethink Periods (and all the other great work going on in this area) helps to reduce stigma and shame around periods, shine a light on period poverty, protect our planet and promote equality.


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Making waves in 2019

It’s been a monumental 12 months for us at City to Sea and for the environmental movement as a whole. Extinction Rebellion brought London to a standstill, the Friday’s for Future campaign exploded and ‘Climate Emergency’ was named as Oxford Language’s ‘Word of the Year 2019’. As a nation, we’re now, more aware than ever of the fragile state of our planet and the urgent action needed as we head into the new decade.

But before we pack up for Christmas and sail into the new year, it’s time to reflect on how far we’ve come together this year. None of this would be possible without our dedicated volunteers, supporters and of course our incredible partners.

We couldn’t do what we do without the support of each and every one of you, so a massive THANK YOU from all of us - you made all of this happen!

Here are a few of our highlights!

The rise of the Refill Revolution

The Refill campaign grew beyond belief in 2019 and we’re now on track to have prevented 100 million plastic bottles from entering our waste stream by the end of the year. We hit 250k app downloads and were listed in Vogue Magazine, The Telegraph and Men’s Health Magazine’s as a top sustainability app.

We held our second National Refill Day reaching an estimated 73 million on social media and were trending on Twitter ALL DAY!

Our incredible Refill community grew to over 350 schemes across the country, and there are now almost 30,000 Refill Stations on the app offering free drinking water to thirsty people.

We teamed up with food and farming charity, Sustain, to launch the #50Fountains Challenge and launched a pilot in Bristol & Oxford to expand the campaign and become the go-to for avoiding single-use plastic. Oh, and our Refill X Chilly’s bottle got a shout out on This Morning and the campaign featured on the BBC series ‘Hugh’s War on Plastic.’

As if that’s not enough, we’re now going global with Refill schemes launching in Japan, Italy, Chile, Ecuador and Australia!

None of this would be possible without our incredible community of volunteers, who drive the Refill Revolution on the ground and make the campaign the success it is today. Here’s to 2020 being even bigger and better!

Plastic-Free Periods – a #BloodySuccess

This year you helped us petition the government to get #PlasticFreePeriods products into schools. And joined us in launching our nationwide #RethinkPeriods schools programme and helped us encourage retailers to stock more eco-friendly product choice.

As a result of our petition, which had nearly 40,000 signatures, the Dept for Education said that products sent to schools would be now be required to be ‘environmentally friendly’. This move could prevent 90 million carrier bags worth of plastic!

We reached more than 11 million people on social media, raising awareness of the issue of plastic in menstrual products and our film ‘Turning Tides’ toured with the Ocean Film Festival during Environmenstrual Week.

We’ve also had success with the retailers and now have open dialogue with 7 large UK retailers, encouraging them to remove plastic from their own brand period products and stock more plastic-free period choices. This is all thanks to you calling them out on social media and letting them know it’s a #Bloodyshame reusables are not more widely available.

Plastic-Free Travel

Over the summer we launched the #PlasticFreeTravel campaign to help make it easier for people to avoid single-use plastic when they are travelling. We teamed up with transport hubs, like Heathrow Airport and Network Rail to ensure travellers were able to Refill on the go. Partnering with Premier Inn as our ‘best practice partner’ pledging to reduce single-use plastic across their hotels.

We had our voices heard and petitioned the top 5 Health & Beauty retailers to encourage them to stock more plastic-free products.

Be A Good A**hole

In the autumn, we took our Unflushables campaign to the next level, working with Lord of the Rings film-star Andy Serkis in a hilarious new role as a 'talking a**hole'.

Our #BeAGoodAsshole campaign was a big hit with the media - in what must be one of our all-time campaign highlights, we got The Guardian, the Telegraph and Huffpost to use the word anus in a serious feature about wet wipes and fat bergs! But on a serious note, the campaign reached millions, raising awareness of a massive issue to a totally new audience.

Next year, the a**hole advert is going on tour and will coming to a cinema near you. Watch this space!


In case you missed it, last week we took on plastic-polluting giants Coca-Cola for their recent digital and out-of-home advertising campaign. We complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about Coke’s use of the phrase ‘single-use’ and challenged them on their claim that ‘single-use plastic bottles are only single-use if they are thrown away.’

The ASA has now been inundated with complaints from our incredible supporters and is now looking into the campaign. With Coca-Cola named as the top polluter globally, it’s campaigns like this and the support from all of you, which really allow us to have a big impact in preventing plastic pollution at source.

Awards, awards and more awards!!

2019 has been the year of awards for us at City to Sea!

The Refill campaign WON two awards – the best ‘Reduce & Reuse Campaign’ at the Plastic Free Awards and the prestigious Energy Globe Award. We’ve also been shortlisted for the Edie Sustainability Leaders Awards for our National Refill Day campaign.

Our film ‘Turning Tides’ won the TVE Global Sustainability Awards ‘Beyond Plastic category’ and we won the Surf Film Fest ‘Shorty Awards’ for a film to raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans.

Our founder Nat won the Sunday Times and Volvo ‘Visionary Award’ and our CEO Rebecca was listed as one of NatWest’s WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise 100).

City to Sea team

Our team

It’s been a year since our CEO took the helm and in January, we also welcomed our brilliant Non-Executive Board to further strengthen our governance and accountability.

We are now an incredible team of 36 everyday people doing extraordinary things. We're campaigners, volunteers, academics, influencers, techies, strategists, creatives, partnership managers, social marketeers and so much more!

We’re all here thanks to one inspirational lady, our founder Natalie. It’s been a special year for her as she launched her second book ‘How to Save the World for Free’ – which has gone on to be an Amazon best-seller! Nat has also released a new music video, secured a column with Time-Out magazine and featured in countless media and TV interviews, reaching millions!

And Nat’s not the only team member with book out this year. Our videographer Michelle, has recently published a children’s plastic pollution book - ‘Seb & Polly Planet on their Ocean Quest.

Rest and regenerate

That’s it from us this this year. We’ll be closing the office for the Christmas break and taking some much-needed time to rest, restore and regenerate. And we hope you’ll be doing the same! Enjoy some time in nature, switch off your phone and give yourself some space to reflect and recharge.

Next year we’ll be back and ready to continue with our mission to prevent plastic pollution at source by awakening active hope, championing practical solutions and inspiring collective action.

Our vision is a world where everyone connects their actions to our oceans and all life can thrive. And together we can make this vision a reality. After all, we don’t need one person to do it perfectly, we need millions to do it imperfectly.

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Coca-Cola Advert

Complaint made over “misleading” Coca-Cola advert

Sending plastic round in circles?

Have you seen the new Coca-Cola advert claiming their single-use plastic bottles aren’t single-use because they can be recycled? Yes, that’s right. They are trying to redefine the phrase ‘single-use’ in their adverts, setting a dangerous precedent to the rest of the drinks industry.

Coca-Cola’s assertion that plastic bottles are only single-use if we throw them away rather than recycle misrepresents a commonly held definition of the word single-use. This confusion has the potential to increase the volume of plastic bottles ending up in our environment, perpetuating the environmental damage that plastic pollution causes.

The word single-use was recognised as the Collins Dictionary ‘word of the year’ in 2018, demonstrating the level at which it has reached the public vernacular. They defined it as: “products that are often made of plastic and have been made to use just once, only to be thrown away after, rendering them unsustainable and harmful to the planet.”

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines ‘single-use’ plastic as follows: “single-use is a term which can refer to any plastic items which are either designed to be used for one time by the consumer before they are thrown away or recycled, or likely to be used in this way”.

Clearly Coca-Cola’s bottles are single-use according to all commonly held and legal definitions from highly reputable organisations. Not only are these products single-use, but their packaging (plastic PET bottles) clearly falls under legal definitions of what constitutes waste, even if they are sent down waste recycling streams.

Recyclable vs recycled

Whilst we celebrate their bottles becoming 100% recyclable (or so they say), we know there is a big difference between something being recyclable and being recycled. The reality is, even Coca-Cola accept that only a fraction of plastic bottles are recycled.

We believe this is greenwashing and is misleading for consumers, so we have made the decision to lodge a formal complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and we need you to do the same. Only if enough of us speak out against this type of greenwashing can we hope to put a stop to it.

We strongly feel the industry needs to be called out, particularly at a time when public concern around single-use plastic is at an all-time high.

Our CEO, Rebecca Burgess says; “The holidays are coming, along with the iconic Coca-Cola truck. But this year, Coca-Cola have taken a new tack when it comes to their marketing – tapping into public concern on single-use plastic and redefining the word to sell their products; misleading customers and setting a dangerous precedent in the industry. While they say their products can be recycled, we know that in reality, many are not. Plastic bottles are consistently the most polluting items on our beaches and rivers and Coca-Cola is the worst offender. We had no choice but to report these misleading claims to the ASA and we are encouraging others to do the same.”  

How big is this problem?

An estimated 700,000 plastic bottles are littered every single day in the UK and the MCS estimates that there are now more than 150 plastic bottles for every mile of beach in the UK.

We know that plastic bottles are consistently the most polluting items on our beaches and rivers and Coca-Cola is the worst offender.

Have your voice heard

Complaining to the ASA is really quick and easy.  We need Coca-Cola to be spending time and money transitioning away from single-use, to become part of the Refill Revolution and not on misleading advertising campaigns. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Click on the button below which will take you to their site. 
  2. Read the info and click continue.
  3. Select the option that shows that you are a member of the public submitting the complaint.
  4. Select 'Poster: Billboards, digital or transport' from the drop-down menu.
  5. Select 'Outdoor' from the drop-down menu.
  6. Add Cola Cola as the brand.
  7. Add either today's date (if you just saw the campaign today), or if you've seen it before then add the date you saw it.
  8. Either use our complaint as a template or write your own in the box.
  9. Download the image below to upload with your complaint. Or you can use this tweet from Coca-Cola.

#CallOutCoke on social media

If you agree with us that Coca-Cola should not be allowed to redefine what the phrase ‘single-use’ use means, then join us in calling out Coke on social media using the hashtag #CallOutCoke

What we’re calling for:

  • - Coca-Cola to withdraw its ads and stop trying to mislead the public about single-use plastic bottles;
  • - Coca-Cola to tackle the use of single-use plastic bottles by shift towards a comprehensive refill scheme
  • - The government to introduce a deposit scheme to ensure far more bottles are refilled – or failing that, recycled.
  • - The new government to introduce legislation to phase-out the use of all but the most essential single-use plastics
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Plastic Free Christmas presents

Plastic-Free Christmas

Here at City to Sea, we believe in enjoying the festive season without the unnecessary excess. To make having a Plastic-Free Christmas just that little bit easier (because life’s complicated enough), here are our top tips for a Christmas that doesn’t cost the Earth.

The true cost of Christmas

For some it’s still the most wonderful time of the year…but it’s also possibly the most wasteful. In the UK, we get through a whopping 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging over the Christmas period – and that’s just for presents! When it comes to Christmas cards, we send enough that if we put them side by side, they would wrap around the world a dizzying 500 times.

Sparkly or shiny wrapping paper might look exciting, but most of the time it’s not recyclable. Every 1kg of wrapping paper is associated with 3.5kg of CO2 emissions! As a nation we use 227,000 tonnes of decorative paper every year, which amounts to as much carbon as around 250, 000 return flights from London to Australia. Try swapping wrapping paper for scarves or use brown wrapping paper and string for a greener alternative.

Plastic-free Gifting

While Christmas is undoubtedly a magical time for children, that magic often doesn’t make it into the New Year. Research suggested that by March, 41% of toys will be broken or kids will have become be bored of them – this means they’ll either end up in the back of a cupboard somewhere or worse, in landfill.

Swaps are an amazing thing to do all year round to reduce your waste, but especially come in handy around Christmas. Whether it’s toy swaps, clothes swaps or anything in between, you can avoid buying new and make sure you aren’t adding clutter to your house all at once. It’s simple – just bring along any unwanted items and swap them for something that you can give a new home. If you can’t find any near you, why not take it upon yourself to start your own? At work, at school or at a local community centre, spread the word and get swapping!


Give the gift of presence instead of presents

We think that being there to spend time with your family and friends is the greatest gift that you could give at Christmas, and making memories together goes a lot further than a shiny new present. In return let your loved ones know that their presence is all that you want for Christmas and that you or your kids don’t need any novelty items, gadgets, bath sets or toys under the tree this year.

Another great way to have a plastic-free Christmas is to give experience gifts instead of items, which can also be a great way of trying out something new (although avoid the high carbon race track days and flying experiences).

You could always give something back while you gift with a charity gift or donation? If that takes your fancy then consider a donation to City to Sea to help power our planet protecting campaigns!

If you still want to buy something brand new, why not go for the planet-friendly option and check out our plastic-free shop. You could encourage that stubborn family member to start their plastic-free journey with a lovely zero-waste set. If they’re still hooked on plastic drinks bottles, why not get them a stylish Chilly’s bottle? Did you know that when you buy a Chilly’s X Refill bottle, Chilly’s donate £10 towards our work here at City to Sea? It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Plastic-Free Christmas Dinner

Plastic-free christmas Feasting

Mince pies, mulled wine and Brussel sprouts…It wouldn’t really be Christmas without all of the amazing food and drink would it? This year plate up a flavoursome feast but ditch the plastic that usually comes along with it.

Stock up on your dry goods at your local zero waste shop. Just take along your containers and fill them up with nuts, grains and whatever else you might need. Not sure where to find your local shop? Take a look at this store locator to find one near you.

Who doesn’t love boxing day leftovers? Make sure to cut down on food waste and keep all of your uneaten food. Remember – forget the cling film and go for plastic-free reusable food wraps such as these ones made from bees wax.

Eating and drinking seasonally, locally and organic are also fantastic ways to take care of the planet in your daily life, but especially at Christmas. Why not try visiting your local greengrocers for your fruit and veg, or find an organic box scheme.

You could also stock up on some organic booze to really get the party going. We love Vintage Roots because with every crate purchased, 10% of profits will be donated back to City to Sea.

Plastic-Free Christmas Wreath

Deck the halls

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, but remember to steer clear of plastic decorations whether it’s tinsel, plastic baubles or an artificial Christmas tree. If you already have some from previous Christmases got themsome second hand then not to worry, but avoid buying any of these new.

Crackers at the Christmas table are a pretty wasteful tradition that results in huge amounts of waste. Most Christmas crackers are non-recyclable and are by definition single-use. The toys inside often will just get swept straight in the bin – talk about a throwaway culture. In the UK alone we get through a whopping 154 million crackers. That’s a lot of plastic. So, if you don’t feel like they’re essential, perhaps you could give them a miss. Alternatively you could have a go at making your own or go for a greener brand.

If you are buying a new Christmas tree, go for a real, locally grown one. To save buying a new one every year, you can make sure the tree still has roots so that it can stay alive for years to come and keep it in the garden in between Christmases. If you do get one that will die after it’s been used, make sure you dispose of it sustainably by either making sure it’s composted or in a chipping scheme. Alternatively you could try and get your hands on a second-hand artificial tree and give it a new home.

Plastic-Free Christmas Food

Party time

Christmas means it’s party season! It’s the time to get together with friends, family and colleagues to let your hair down. Having a plastic-free Christmas doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on fun.

Scroll back up to the ‘Plastic-Free Feast’ section to recap on eco-friendly booze and food.  When it comes to serving up your food and drink, avoid using disposable items. Swap plastic plates and cutlery for proper chinaware or go for food that you can hold while you eat such as wraps. Move away from plastic cups and go for proper glassware instead. For larger parties where this may be more challenging, not to worry - Waitrose offer a free glass hire service  and if you purchase your drinks from Majestic, they lend out glasses for free as well.

If you’re having your party catered, try to choose a sustainable caterer or if you’re not sure where they stand give them a ring and ask for your food to be free of cling film and other single-use items.

Want to dress to impress? Go second hand and check out your local charity shops, vintage shops or sites like Depop to give someone’s old party dress or shirt a new lease of life. Remember to avoid buying any new clothes, especially those on the cheaper, low-quality side or items with sequins or glitter. You could also get hands-on and have a go at crafting your own plastic-free Christmas jumper!

The golden rule is to buy less and value what you already have a bit more.

Material things aren’t what makes Christmas so brilliant, it’s the beautiful moments spent with people you love that make this time of year so special. Let’s make this festive season really fantastic by cutting down on needless plastic!

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Plastic bottles

City to Sea’s position on the proposed Scottish Deposit Return Scheme

City to Sea have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on their proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and would strongly encourage others to do the same. The consultation remains open until the 10th December 2019.


The Scottish Government have said they recognise that fresh interventions are needed to bring about the systemic and behavioural change necessary to fulfil the aspiration of creating a more circular economy. Scottish Ministers have announced legislation to establish a Deposit Return Scheme. This would enable consumers to take single-use containers back and redeem a 20p deposit from any retailer selling drinks covered by the scheme. Including plastic bottles made from PET plastic, aluminium and steel cans and glass bottles.

Why They Are Consulting

The regulations for Deposit Return Scheme are subject to the super-affirmative procedure and will be laid in Parliament for a 91-day consultation period. This will allow industry experts, interested stakeholders and MSPs the opportunity to comment on the details of the regulations and allow us to refine the legal approach further– this follows on from a consultation in 2018 on the overarching principles.

You can read the specific consultation documents here.

City to Sea’s position:

City to Sea is an award-winning not for profit, campaigning to prevent plastic pollution at source. We are reducing the need for recycling in the first place, by advocating reuse and providing practical solutions to single-use plastic water bottles, through measures such as our Refill campaign.

We’re however also hugely supportive of Deposit Return Scheme (DRSs) as a principle. They have been shown to be an effective way of capturing the plastic bottles in use and ensuring they don’t make their way into our oceans. From a social-economic perspective, a DRS is also a powerful tool for empowering people to value plastic and has a knock-on effect of connecting people with the extrinsic value of other single-use plastic products.

However, we would always advocate reuse rather than single use and would encourage legislators to prioritise this consideration.

Image of plastic bottle pollution in water

With regards to the current Scottish government consultation for a DRS, we consider this an opportunity for Scotland to lead the way in the home nations in delivering an effective DRS. We know it is popular with 77% of Scots saying they back the scheme. We also know it could be effective with an estimated 31,000 fewer plastic bottles littered every day. Moving this captured plastic towards a circular economy will slow – although not stop – the flood of plastics heading to our waterways. We consider that the success of this DRS should, at least in part, be measured by the plastic prevented from going to landfill and the plastic pollution prevented from entering our waterways. We would encourage the Scottish Government to report on these factors in an open and transparent manner.

Crucially – this DRS embeds into domestic law an example of extended producer responsibility, which requires producers to be responsible for the packaging (in this case the drinks cans and bottles). City to Sea strongly welcomes this and would encourage legislators to consider how such a principle could be rolled out to other products that cause plastic pollution.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly we would like to stress the potential carbon saving impact that this DRS will have - an estimated 160,000 tonnes every year. There is perhaps no greater threat to our oceans than that of climate change and so any policy measure that limits GHG emissions is to be encouraged.

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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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Hotels, guesthouses and holiday parks have a crucial part to play in #PlasticFreeTravel. They can help guests continue their plastic-free journey, or even inspire them to take their first break away from plastic.

Whether it’s offering water in a glass (instead of in plastic), or phasing out mini toiletries and plastic straws, we want to help them get started.

Our partner Premier Inn has already begun its plastic-free journey:

 ‘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 PLC (owners of Premier Inn)

Why not join Premier Inn and other leading accommodation providers, by taking our Plastic Pledge?

  1. Sign-up to the Refill app
  2. Remove plastic bottled water from guest rooms by end 2020
  3. Remove single use plastic plates, straws, stirrers, cutlery and cups by end of 2021
  4. Remove all single-use toiletries from bathrooms and use refillable dispensers in bathrooms by end of 2021

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

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