Black Friday – try #BuyNothingDay instead

Black Friday is the worst expression of the consumerism that damages our planet and drains natural resources. Don't get sucked in by bogus bargains.

At City to Sea, we believe in buying less and shopping second-hand wherever we can.

Each year, we make a note of Earth Overshoot Day – this is the day when the world's population starts to consume more resources than our planet can regenerate in a year. In 2019, Earth Overshoot Day was on the 29th July – less than two thirds of the way through the year. This date is getting earlier every year, making it crucial to break the world's shopping habit as soon as possible.

If it looks too good to be true – it probably is

Black Friday bargains can look very tempting – but they're not always as good as they seem. Often, big retailers use poor quality materials specifically for Black Friday.

If you really have to buy new goods, always try to find reusable, good-quality, long-lasting products that meet your requirements exactly. Black Friday is the opposite of this! It encourages rampant consumerism, based on our love of bargains. Ignore the hype and buy only what you need.

Making better choices

Black Friday has huge negative impacts on the environment, as well as on local economies and our wellbeing as individuals.

If you can't resist buying something over the weekend, why not visit your local charity shops – you really will find bargains there. If you prefer shopping online, try second-hand or swapping sites like Facebook Marketplace or local community groups. Visit Depop for creative fashions or look into smaller, ethical businesses, like the ones featured on our website. Unlike Ebay, Amazon and Apple, these organisations are also more likely to be paying their fair share of tax.

Instead of splurging on so-called bargains, you could support craftspeople and artisans, small ethical businesses and brands that deserve to be valued. Talented, dedicated people who are trying to create beautiful, unique products using renewable resources.

There are many smaller brands and initiatives (such as repair and reuse projects) that deserve to be valued. Like clothing brand Patagonia – on Black Friday 2016, Patagonia donated 100% of sales* to organisations working to create positive change. Or REI, who are organising #OptOutside clean-up events across the US for Black Friday 2019.

Best of all, buy nothing. Look out for the hashtag #BuyNothingDay, which is used by businesses and organisations that are avoiding Black Friday, including fashion and footwear brands such as Pachacuti, Elvis & Kresse, Raeburn, allbirds, Everlane, Veja and Ecoalf.

*100% of purchases made in Patagonia® stores and online at patagonia.com and patagoniaprovisions.com

If you really want to part with your cash, why not donate to one of our campaigns and help fund our planet protecting campaigns!

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Plastic pollution floating in water in front of a power plant

How does plastic contribute to climate breakdown?

We are in the midst of global climate breakdown, and Plastic production is a major and growing part of the crisis.

In 2019, the production of plastics (aka the plastics industry) will add more than 850 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere - the equivalent of 189 coal-fired power plants! By 2050,  the accumulation of these gases will account for up to 13% of the total remaining carbon budget. (That’s the amount of extra carbon the planet can tolerate before tipping global warming over 1.5 degrees - the danger line.)

Plastic is one of the most greenhouse gas intensive industries in the manufacturing sector - and the fastest growing. Greenhouse gas emissions from plastic are and accelerating climate breakdown, threatening our ability to maintain a survivable climate.

Our planet cannot afford plastics business as usual. We have to turn the tide.

Microplastic floating in the ocean

the cost of a plastic planet

Nearly every piece of plastic that exists in the world originated as a fossil fuel. And GHGs are emitted at every stage of the plastics lifecycle, from its extraction and transport, refining and manufacture, through to waste management. Single-use packaging is one of the largest and fastest-growing areas of the plastic economy, but the issue is more than just single-use plastic. The very production and lifecycle of plastic is a greater threat to our planet than many realise.

What’s more, plastic pollution is also contributing to the problem. While earth’s oceans have absorbed up to 40% of all man-made carbon since the industrial era, early stage research indicates that the infiltration of microplastics into our seas is disrupting their capacity to act as a natural carbon sink.

Our plastic addiction and the global climate crisis are two sides of the same coin.

Urgent action is needed

There is much talk of recycling and bioplastics, but these are often false solutions that distract from the main aim of reducing plastic production. We need to focus on reducing the production, reusing what we can and only then explore effective recycling. We need to:

  1. 1. Stop our addiction to single-use, disposable plastic.
  2. 2. Halt the development of more oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure and seek to keep fossil fuel reserves in the ground and in line with climate science.
  3. 3. Build zero-waste communities through reducing waste and reuse, and support circular economy initiatives.
  4. 4. Force polluters to pay for their impact on the environment.

We need to turn off the tap before it’s too late. This is a climate emergency. Be part of the solution.

A plastic bag floating in the ocean

City to Sea and climate change

At City to Sea, we see climate breakdown as the most important issue threatening all species, including humans. We also acknowledge that this threat is driven by human activity. Specifically, we note the IPCC’s warning for the dire need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for the need to act now. This means we cannot and will not tolerate business as usual.

As a result, City to Sea will actively:

Highlight how the plastics industry is currently a major driver for climate breakdown.
We will boldly challenge the industry’s narratives underplaying its environmental impact and work to reduce the industry’s contribution to climate breakdown.

Stand in solidarity and offer support to other organisations working on the climate crisis.

Ensure climate breakdown is taken into consideration when developing all other policy positions.
And specifically oppose any policy that will significantly hamper efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

Commit to reducing our direct environmental impact.

If asked, never fail to speak out loudly about any organisation that is significantly contributing to GHG emissions.
Or those who are refusing to work to reduce GHGs in-line with the IPCC or if they are hindering positive climate action.

Cilmate protest sign that read system change not climate change

Take Action

To learn more about how plastics contribute to climate breakdown, and why we must act now, read the full CIEL Plastic and Climate report.

Support City to Sea and our Campaigns so we can help prevent plastic pollution at source, and connect everyone's actions to our oceans.

Plastic Free Journal is here to help you get closer to a plastic free life, with tips on reducing your plastic footprint, news and interesting reads.

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Image of the Refill Team with Plastic Free Award Winner Logo

City to Sea wins Plastic Free Award

City to Sea picks up best ‘Reuse Award’ at the Plastic Free Awards for our Refill Campaign

Last week, City to Sea were awarded the ‘Reduce & Reuse Award’ for our Refill Campaign at the prestigious Plastic Free Awards. The awards, run by Surfers Against Sewage and Iceland, recognise champions from all walks of life. Including young campaigners, community leaders, small businesses, charities, designers, entrepreneurs, sports clubs and schools. All with a shared mission of stopping plastic pollution.

They were presented by environmental journalist and campaigner Lucy Siegal. And judged by a high-profile, expert panel including Ben Fogle, Liz Bonnin and Dr Paula Owen.

The Refill team holding the Reduce and Reuse Award

Reuse over single-use

We’re honoured to be recognised alongside so many pioneering businesses, not-for profits and individuals who are tirelessly campaigning to prevent plastic pollution. The Refill campaign was selected due to the work we are doing in championing reuse over single-use. And therefore providing practical solutions for some of the worst polluting single-use plastic items.

Refill is on track to have prevented over 100 million bottles by the end of 2019. And we’re now expanding to cover more than just drinking water. As a result, you’ll soon be able to use the free app to find out where to fill up your coffee-cup, lunch box, groceries and even toiletries and cleaning products. And with more than 250,000 app users we’ve got the potential to create a tipping point by make refilling the new norm.

A huge thank to each and everyone one of you!

Refill wouldn’t be possible without the on-going support from all of our partners. Including Water UK, Chilly’s Bottles and the Welsh Government. And we certainly couldn’t do what we do without our incredible community of volunteer led schemes and Refill stations who are the driving force for the #refillrevolution!

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Press release: Loophole & delays undermine microplastics restriction

32 NGOs sign joint letter to key decision makers that reiterates support for restrictions on all intentionally added microplastics under chemical legislation REACH

City to Sea, the environmental campaigning organisation has joined 31 other NGOs from across Europe to raise major concerns that proposed limitations to the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) restriction on intentionally added microplastics act as loopholes to satisfy industry, by delaying implementation and creating derogations for biodegradable plastics.

Comments from the industry lobby in the ECHA public consultation on microplastics are aimed at undermining the core purpose of the restriction rather than contributing to meaningfully addressing the issue of microplastic pollution.

The latest European Chemicals Agency proposal to restrict all intentionally added microplastics has generally received strong support from NGOs across many sectors. In letters to national governments, 32 NGOs together with the #breakfreefromplastic movement of more than 1,800 organisations, and the Rethink Plastic alliance, reiterated this support, while raising major concerns on derogations and unnecessary delays in a letter addressed to national environment ministers and relevant agencies on Tuesday. They call on the Commission and Member States to address these concerns and move the restriction process forward without delays or derogations.

Once released in the environment, microplastics are practically impossible to remove, and are expected to be present in the environment for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years, with severe and well documented effects on the environment. The scientific data gathered by ECHA in the report backing the need for a restriction is unequivocal: microplastics constitute a serious risk to the environment, and are a source of pollution that is currently, and undeniably, out of control.

In particular proposed derogations for allegedly biodegradable microplastics and the extended transitional periods are highlighted as undermining the prevention of microplastic pollution, and lacking in scientific basis.

Elise Vitali, Chemicals Project Officer at the European Environmental Bureau said “The restriction proposal is a big step forward. But if passed as it stands, this plan would seriously jeopardise the EU’s reputation as a leader in the fight against plastic pollution. It is a matter of urgency that these unjustifiable loopholes are closed, and that the restrictions are applied to all intentional microplastics in a concise timeframe.”

Rebecca Burgess, the CEO of City to Sea said, “Tiny pieces of microplastics represent a big part of plastic pollution in our oceans. While we have seen important initial steps in tackling this problem, we have so much further to go. We are proud to stand alongside 31 other civil society organisations from across Europe calling for faster implementation of stronger legislation.

She continued, “Although this is about micro-plastics our concerns about so called ‘bio-plastics’ go much further. Too often they are presented as a solution to plastic pollution when we know they often compound and worsen problems. For consumers we still stick by our basic advice, reducing the amount of single-use plastic we use, whether bio-plastic or not, is the only solution. Through the Refill campaign we’re working with thousands of food-to-go businesses to encourage them to move towards refillable options rather than switching to bio-plastics.”

Delphine Lévi Alvarès, Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement in Europe and of the Rethink Plastic alliance said “It is high time the industry stops bringing biodegradability claims to obtain exemptions and create loopholes in much needed restrictions, be it on single-use plastics or in this case on microplastics added to products.  If it is even slightly serious about contributing to solving the plastic crisis, the industry should rather focus its efforts on redesigning and removing all intentionally added  microplastics from Industry products”.

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City to Sea and Robeco partner for another year

City to Sea is delighted to extend our partnership with leading sustainability investing company Robeco for another year!

Since launching our partnership together in October 2018, Robeco has helped City to Sea to grow our award-winning Refill campaign and raise awareness of the importance of reduce and reuse behaviours amongst their employees and clients. Thanks to the incredible support of partners like Robeco, Refill is on track to prevent 100 million plastic bottles from entering our waste stream by 2019. There are now more than 25,000 Refill Stations signed up and over 250,000 people have downloaded the app.

In 2019 we were delighted when single-use plastic was listed as one of Robeco’s 2019 engagement themes. We are pleased this engagement focuses on food and beverage producers, along with the plastics manufacturers themselves. Currently, 95% of plastic packaging material is single-use.

Sustainability investing means meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising those of generations to come – and Robeco are experts at it. As a leader in sustainability investing, Robeco has a long history of integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into its investment processes. Over the last year, Robeco has developed bespoke Refill fountains and refillable glass bottles, which they take to industry conferences and events across the UK and beyond. This initiative enables delegates to refill water bottles throughout the day, rather than turning to single-use plastic bottles. To date, the initiative has already saved over 10,000 plastic bottles ending up in our waste streams!

Alongside this, Robeco has also given our founder Natalie Fee exclusive access to speak at high-profile events, reaching over 1,500 investment professionals around the world, who are collectively responsible for billions, if not trillions, of EUR in assets. Natalie has called on them to wake up to the damaging impact plastic is having on our planet and choose to invest more sustainably, sharing City to Sea’s mission and raising awareness of our behaviour change campaigns.

Off the back of these events, we were introduced to COOK, who have now joined the Refill Revolution, adding all 90 of their stores and franchises to the Refill app helping more people to Refill on the go and reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles across the UK. Alongside Robeco, we advocate that companies with sustainable business practices have a competitive advantage and are more successful in the long-term and we look forward to growing our portfolio of businesses engaging with our campaigns.

Earlier this year, Robeco put the power in the hands of children, asking schools to create a sculpture that visually highlights the problem with ocean plastics. The winning design, a giant angler fish made of plastic bottles, sat on Bishopsgate with approximately one million people passing it every week, turning heads to the problem of plastic pollution.

Robeco’s employees saw first-hand how important the work of City to Sea is, as they spent an afternoon picking plastic out of the Thames. From the various items retrieved from the river, they called on the brands responsible to consider more sustainable options for their packaging, reaching over 40,000 people through social media.

“Working with City to Sea for the past year has enabled Robeco to bring its authentic sustainability credentials to life in a real and tangible way,” says Peter Walsh, Head of Robeco UK.

“As a leader in sustainable investing, we are committed to continuing to advance the adoption of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing across the industry. We’ve been leading the way with investing in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), active ownership and ESG integration. Together we can have a real world impact on both wealth and wellbeing.”

Natalie Fee, Founder of City to Sea says, “We are delighted to extend our partnership with Robeco and continue to drive change across the investment sector. Together, we are influencing and encouraging more people to tackle the problem of plastic pollution by choosing to invest sustainably. Our partnership with Robeco has also helped champion the Refill Revolution, highlighting the simple changes that we as individuals can make to reduce our environmental impact, such as using a reusable water bottle. In the year to come, we will be working with Robeco to highlight other simple swaps people can make, like choosing an ethical pension provider. I’m excited to see the growing impact we will have together as we enter our second year of partnership”.

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Bristol signs international Plastics Declaration

Press release: Environmental Organisation, City to Sea, welcomes home city of Bristol signing international Plastics Declaration

Responding to the news that Bristol has joined 19 other cities in signing the Eurocities joint Plastics Declaration, CEO of Bristol based environmental organisation City to Sea, Rebecca Burgess, said,

“I am delighted that Bristol is at the forefront of the global fight back against the flood of plastic pollution. This declaration harnesses the energy and commitment in cities across Europe to do what they can to tackle plastic pollution. At City to Sea we will continue to work with local and national politicians, businesses and individuals to prioritise reduce and reuse, over single use. Our pioneering, award winning water bottle campaign Refill is now expanding internationally and here in Bristol we are expanding the campaign to become the one-stop shop to live with less plastic. Using the free Refill app you will soon be able to find out where to refill not just your water bottle, but also your coffee cup, lunch-box, groceries and even your cleaning products and toiletries. We look forward to working with Bristol City Council and other stakeholders in the city to bring about lasting change.”

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ASA bans Andrex wet wipe “flushable” advert as “misleading”

Press release: Wet wipe manufactures need to “be a good a**holes” - Environmental organisation responds to ASA ruling that bans Andrex wet wipe “flushable” advert

Plastic pollution campaigning organisation, City to Sea, who collaborated with world famous, Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis, to make the viral “talking a**hole” to raise awareness of the issue calls out “misleading” advert

City to Sea call on Kimberley-Clarke to be a good a**hole and get on board with the Water Industry’s ‘Fine to Flush’ standard

Despite their naming, fatbergs are in fact made up of 93% of wet wipes and just 0.5% fat and are responsible for blocking the nation’s sewage sytems.

90% of wet wipes on the market contain plastic and are therefore non-biodegradable.

The environmental organisation behind the viral “talking a**hole” advert which reminds people not to flush wet wipes down the toilet, City to Sea, have today responded to the news that Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) have banned an Andrex advert because of claims that their product was “flushable” was “misleading”.

City to Sea’s Campaigns Manager, Steve Hynd said,

“For Kimberley Clarke we reserve this remark – be a good a**hole and get on board with the water industry’s ‘Fine to Flush’ standard so customers know for sure that they can flush your products and not contribute to a big, and pretty disgusting, problem of fat bergs and plastic pollution that a lot of wet wipes contribute to”.

He continued, “Many people don’t realise that most wet wipes contain plastic and should never be flushed down the loo, or that wet wipes are a major cause of fat bergs, sewers blockages and plastic pollution spilling over into our waterways. This has been, at least in part, because some manufactures have been real a**holes and refused to tell customers that their products contain loads of plastic while others have suggested products could be flushed when they really shouldn’t be. Until all major manufactures come on board with plastic-free, 100% biodegradable complete product ranges that meet water industry standards, we will continue to advocate the much simpler message for customers to don’t believe the wipe and only flush pee, paper and poo.”

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Help us bring #PlasticFreePeriods to the high-street!

Today, in celebration of Environmenstrual Week we’ve launched a new campaign to help bring plastic-free periods to the high-street.

It’s currently a #BloodyShame

With 86% of the British public being worried about the impact of plastic pollution, and one pack of period pads containing the same amount of plastic as 5 carrier bags. We think people deserve choice when it comes to how they manage their periods.

Period products are the 5th most common item found on Europe’s beaches - more widespread than single-use coffee cups, cutlery or straws. Most of these products find their way into our waterways and onto our beaches. This is because they’ve been incorrectly disposed of - flushed down the toilet.

Almost half of British people with periods buy their period products in the ​supermarket. Yet four of the 9 main UK retailers don’t stock a single plastic-free period product. This includes Morrisons, one of The Big 4! Of those who do stock plastic-free products, none stock the full range (plastic-free disposables, menstrual cups, period pants, reusable pads) in all their stores. A recent UK survey told us that people who haven’t switched to #plasticfreeperiods say that their main barrier was the lack of plastic-free products where they shop.

We think it’s a #BloodyShame that supermarkets aren’t offering more plastic-free options. Especially, since most of them have signed up to support the UK Plastics Pact – an industry-wide initiative which says it aims to reduce avoidable plastic waste. Clearly the Plastics Pact is not holding up too well in UK supermarkets aisles!

We think that people with periods deserve to be able to menstruate without involving single-use plastic and they deserve it wherever they live. Wherever they shop.

The campaign is backed by a number of high-profile sportswomen. Including Team GB Surf Ambassador and Love Island star Laura Crane, record-breaking paddleboarder Cal Major, world-record holding free-diver Tanya Streeter and cold-water swimmer Sophie Hellyer. They are championing the cause and raising awareness of the hidden plastics in period products.

Natalie Fee, Founder of City to Sea said: "We lead busy lives and it is a bloody shame that we're not being given choices when it comes to buying our period products on the go. We want to put an end to hidden plastics in period products, they're totally unnecessary and choking our oceans"

Help us turn the tide 

We’re calling on UK retailers to start stocking plastic-free period products. And we need your help! Join us by becoming a period detective and finding out what’s available in your local supermarket. Share your findings on social media and tag the retailer so they know you’re onto them. We want to hear which retailers are supporting their customers to go plastic-free, and which need to up their game.

  • If you find plastic-free products

    Upload a picture or video clip of your findings, tagging @citytosea_, the supermarket and using the hashtag a #BloodySuccess! If you find plastic-free options, but not the ones you wanted then let the supermarket know!

  • If you don’t find any plastic-free options

    Upload a picture or video clip of you with the hashtag a #BloodyShame. Tagging the supermarket to tell them what you were after.

What are we asking retailers to do?

With your help we’re calling on UK supermarkets to increase the availability and range of plastic free period products in all of their stores.

Thanks to the work of many Environmenstrual Coalition members (like Ella Daish who ran this petition), some supermarkets are starting to get the message. Also, this August Sainsburys announced that their own-brand tampons would no longer include plastic applicators. This past year alone has seen various retailers add Hey Girls, Bloom & Nora, DAME, Natracare, TOTM, Mooncup and Flux Undies to their shelves.

We want to see ALL supermarkets offering a FULL RANGE of choice to people with periods. In ALL of their stores.  So, get onto your local high-street to highlight which stores are a #BloodySuccess and which are a #BloodyShame!

Go Plastic-free with your period

We've been campaigning on the issue for the last few years - find out more about what we've been up to and how to a have a plastic-free period.

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It’s time to Rethink Periods

We’ve launched an exciting new period education programme

Unicef estimates that on average menstruators spend 3,000 days menstruating during their life. So, we think it’s about time we Rethink Periods, and shake up period education in England.

Rethink Periods is our free, nationwide schools programme to update period education. With unbiased information on all period products available, as well as the social and environmental contexts of periods. From October 2019, we’ll be giving 600 schools with everything they need to educate and empower students when it comes to their period education.

why do we need to Rethink Periods?

In 2018, we ran a pilot with the support of Anglian Water and found that often periods are not covered in enough depth in schools, with boys regularly left out of the discussion. In addition, period education is often based on a few products, dominated by leading brands in a bid to hook consumers on their products for life. Above all, period education rarely touches on environmental impacts, including how to dispose of products. In the UK alone, 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed down the toilet EVERY SINGLE DAY. As a result, we think students need education on ALL the products available to them, including plastic-free and reusable options, helping prevent damage to our oceans.

become a rethink periods ambassador

To become the Rethink Periods ambassador for your school, you can contact us to book on to a training session or find out more about the programme. By taking part you will get:

Detailed Lesson plans and teaching resources. These cover four topics including period products, the environment, myths and taboos, and period poverty.

Teacher training from our Rethink Periods expert trainers. Our trainers will guide teachers through all the menstrual products available. As well as the lesson plans and teaching resources . They will also demonstrate how the lessons can be taught in a dynamic, informative and engaging way.

A product demonstration box worth £110. With examples of every menstrual product currently on the market, including reusables and plastic-free or organic disposables.

All of this is completely free, and we can't wait to start booking teachers on to training sessions and sharing our wonderful resources. If you work in a school, please share Rethink Periods with your headteacher or PSHE leads, and if you are a student, let your teachers know you want this in your school. Equally, as a parent please pass on our details to your child's school if you would like them to take part.

A big thank you to...

This project is in partnership with WEN and was made possible thanks to the Waitrose Plan Plastic Fund and Hubbub. With findings taken from our pilot project supported by Anglian Water.

We have been blown away by the generosity from companies who have supported this project by donating their products. This has enabled us to make the 600 school product demonstration boxes as well as 60 trainer and ambassador boxes.

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Strike with us, for the oceans

City to Sea are responding to young people’s call for everyone to join them in their monthly climate strike this Friday. We are encouraging staff and supporters to take to the streets to stand in solidarity with students fighting for our planet’s future.

Will you join us and thousands of students, businesses and organisations?

Climate Change is the biggest threat to our oceans. Unless we take urgent and far-reaching action now to limit warming to 1.5C rather than 2C we will see a catastrophic impact on our oceans. And there is BIG plastic elephant in the room here. Rising plastic production will account for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That’s about the same as the entire current emissions of the transportation industry – planes, trains, cars, buses combined.

Without tackling our plastic addiction, we cannot tackle the climate crisis.

Wherever you are, pack your water bottle, make a banner and join your local strike. If you can’t join us on the streets then support us online by posting messages of support using #ClimateStrike.

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