Power change in your life with our Ecotricity partnership

We love collaborating – it’s how we change the world, for the better. So we’re chuffed to announce our new partnership with Ecotricity and our alliance with Extinction Rebellion this summer to help bring about the changes our planet so urgently needs.

As eminent environmentalist George Monbiot said when asked what his top tip to reverse climate breakdown was, he replied, ‘do nothing alone’Which is why, as of this July, we’ll be partnering with a green energy supplier, Ecotricity, to help power change in our supporter’s lives. 

Ecotricity are Britain’s greenest energy company. They don’t just supply green energy, they make it too. Plus, they’re the only energy supplier in Britain that knows the carbon footprint, per customer, of its entire operations – which means they’re green from head to toe. 

Through our new partnership, we’ll be encouraging more people to protect our planet by switching to green energy (psssst! It’s one of the biggest single things you can do to cut your carbon footprint).  

By making the switch, you’ll not only be cutting your own carbon footprint, but you’ll also be helping us prevent plastic pollution at source. Ecotricity will now donate up to £60 to support City to Sea’s planet protecting work as a thankyou for you switching. 

Why we’re working together? 

Somewhere along City to Sea’s journey, our founder Natalie made the link between plastic and climate breakdown. We’d always known (thanks to The Story of Stuff!) plastic was made of fossil fuels, and that all the production and transportation involved in bottled water and packaging was bad in terms of CO2 emissions, but it was the CIEL report, published in April 2018, that really brought it all home.  

As Nat talked about in her last blog on plastic and climate, the report shows that plastic’s share of global oil use is set to triple by 2050, increasing greenhouse gas emissions from petrochemicals by 30 percent and doubling plastic pollution in our oceans. Depressing stuff – if you leave it at that. But of course we don’t – City to Sea exists to disrupt that trend and create a new story, one that you star in, along with everyone else living a life with less plastic!  

Switch to green energy and help save the planet 

Ecotricity are in pursuit of a Green Britain, a place in which we all live more sustainable lives and where an ethical business is the norm, pursuing outcomes rather than profit, so joining forces was a natural fit and we’re delighted to be working together. 

We’re delighted to have teamed up with City to Sea who are encouraging people to switch away from single-use plastics. At Ecotricity, we’re all about encouraging people to switch to truly deep green energy and frack-free gas, hence our two simple switching solutions combined will go a long way towards helping crack our current climate crisis. Here’s to everyone having the bottle to get behind us both and make a big difference. – Helen Taylor, Ecotricity

So how do I make the switch? 

  1. Click here to find out more about Ecotricity and how to switch to green energy. It’s super simple! 
  2. Or if you’d prefer to chat you can call them on 0808 123 0123, mention City to Sea  or ‘CTS’ so they can donate to us (don’t forget that bit or we won’t get the donation) 
  3. Hurrah! That’s it – you’ve made a big dent in your carbon footprint and help power our plastic pollution campaigns. Thanks for doing your bit. 
     

WIN tickets to WOMAD Festival 

We’ll be kicking our partnership off at WOMAD festival on Sunday 28th July, where Natalie Fee will be chairing a panel discussion with her personal hero and shero – Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity and Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion. We’ll be discussing how Ecotricity were the first business to declare a Climate Emergency, and the role businesses have to play in the rebellion. And no doubt plastic pollution will be on the agenda too.  And we’ll also be encouraging our supporters to get involved with their local Extinction Rebellion groups and be part of the 3.5% of the population we need to be mobilised to see systemic change.  

To be in with a chance to WIN tickets to the festival, share your plastic free festival tips with us by the 21st July and we’ll pick our favourite. To enter you will need to:  

  1. Enter on Twitter by following and tagging us @CitytoSea_ and sharing your tip using #WINWOMAD
  2. Email us on marketing@citytosea.org.uk  

Entries must be submitted by 17:00 July 21st.  

The winner will be selected and notified on July 22nd.   

Terms and Conditions apply.

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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.”

END

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 Jasmine@citytosea.org.uk  

 

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:  

 

 

 

[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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Keep up the pressure – government are listening!

Thanks to your support our latest petition calling on the government to only send plastic-free period products to schools is already having an impact.

When we first wrote to the Department of Education with this ask they responded saying:

“We are working to explore whether environmentally friendly products and sustainable products can be integrated into the period product scheme and further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.”

Now more than 30,000 of you have signed our petition and the government are taking notice. In a recent article from Schools Week the Department for Education responded to our concerns, 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)”.

We want to 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. This is vital to ensure that government don’t flood the school system with the equivalent of 90 million plastic bags, after having just challenged them to go plastic-free by 2022!

We want to hit 50,000 before the government tender for school period products closes, so please keep up the pressure and keep sharing the petition. Your action is making a difference!

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‘Seb, Polly Planet & their Ocean Quest’

It’s a big week here at City to Sea HQ, as one of our original team members, and now in-house photographer and filmmaker, Michelle Cassar launches her first book today, for World Oceans Day Seb and Polly Planet on their Ocean Quest, a children’s book raising awareness of solutions to the issue of plastic pollution.

It’s a stunningly illustrated, and already highly acclaimed adventure story aimed at children age 5+ and is designed to empower them to live with less plastic. Through the magical adventures of daring Seb, children will learn about the effects of plastic pollution, and what they can do to prevent it. Rather than focus on recycling, this book takes a fresh approach; concentrating on the other three Rs – refuse, reduce and reuse. As you know, we need to ‘turn off the tap’ if we really want to prevent plastic pollution.

A bit about Michelle…

Michelle has been living with plastic a lot less (PALL) since 2008, it wasn’t always easy #BeingPALL. At that time, only a handful of people had woken up to plastic pollution and were doing something positive and solution focused – Michelle was one of them. Despite having struggled with writing and it taking over six years for her to find the confidence to write a blog, she’s now putting her 10 years of experience into a book so she can inspire the next generation!

One of many stunning illustrations by Create’eve Illustration based in Cornwall.

Never one to shy away from an opportunity

Michelle brings fun into preventing plastic pollution. She’s also known as Hydro Harriet, the Mermaid with a Message, and isn’t afraid to sit on a toilet with her knickers down in the high street to raise awareness of the issue of plastic flushed down our loos. She’s managed to turn a serious issue into something that children will engage with and we couldn’t be prouder!

Inspiring and hopeful, Seb and Polly Planet brings to life the difference one person can make by saying no to single-use plastic. An empowering, practical and fun read that will help readers grasp just how important they are and how their actions really can change the world.

NATALIE FEE – AUTHOR, AWARD-WINNING CAMPAIGNER AND FOUNDER OF CITY TO SEA

A book for everyone

Seb and Polly Planet book will appeal to parents, carers, grandparents, aunties and uncles, eco-schools, educators, community groups, and anyone interested in plastic pollution and environmental issues, who want to empower children to make good choices. Who doesn’t like a good rollicking superhero story?!

SEB, POLLY PLANET AND THEIR OCEAN QUEST.

Michelle’s crowdfunding…

Launching with a pre-order of the book via Crowdfunder , Michelle hopes to raise the funds to get this book on the shelves for more children to be inspired by.

Proceeds from the sale of Seb and Polly Planet and their Ocean Quest will be donated to a number of organisations preventing plastic pollution. Naturally, City To Sea will be one of the beneficiaries alongside the brilliant Plastic Oceans, UK, founded by Jo Ruxton and widely known for their multi-award-winning film on Netflix, and Plastic Free July founded by Rebecca Pruiz which has encouraged millions of individuals to commit to reducing their plastic use, in over 170 countries worldwide.

We’ve ordered our copies, now you can pre-order yours via crowdfunder, to get this book and it’s timely message into the hands of children and their carers everywhere.

A funny, heart-warming story of a little girl discovering that her actions make a difference to the lives of the beautiful birds and animals that live in our oceans. This hopeful book shows children (and their parents and teachers!) how they can save marine wildlife by making different everyday choices to stem the flow of plastic pollution going into the sea. I can’t wait to buy it for all the children in my life!

AMANDA KEETLEY – FOUNDER OF LESS PLASTIC | AUTHOR OF PLASTIC GAME CHANGER
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Why we should connect our actions to the ocean every day

June the 8th is World Oceans Day! A whole day dedicated to the three-quarters of our planet covered in saltwater. A whole day to remember the source of every second breath we take. So, inhale oxygen from the forests, exhale CO2 for them to (hopefully) reabsorb, inhale oxygen from the oceans, exhale CO2 for them to (hopefully) reabsorb. Cool huh? I say hopefully, for as we well know, forests and oceans are under serious threat, and their capacity for absorbing and sequestering CO2 from our fossil-fuel intensive lifestyle is severely compromised.  

“Scientists and natural history experts the world over agree that there’s more than a commotion in the ocean; there’s a crisis.” – Natalie Fee, How to Save the World for Free (Lawrence King Publishing, October 2019). Pre-order here.

 

Protect what you love  

It’s not just ocean acidification caused by increased CO2 in the atmosphere that’s pushing the seas to their limits, it’s overfishing, it’s pesticides and fertilisers from industrial agriculture, it’s melting ice caps and of course, it’s plastic pollution.

So here at City to Sea, we welcome World Oceans Day, not just for the chance to boost awareness of the threats to the big blue, but to celebrate what we love about it too. To remind us to get out there and connect with it. Maybe that’s grabbing a surfboard and playing in the waves. Or paddle-boarding in an estuary or harbour. Or doing a beach clean, a coastal walk, learning to dive or snorkel, sailing, wild swimming, windsurfing, beachcombing, rock-pooling, sunset-on-the-horizon-gazing – whatever floats your boat and makes your relationship with the sea that little bit more personal.  

The plight of the albatross 

At this point, I should probably fess up that I’m the world’s most unlikely ocean ambassador. You may have assumed I was an ocean-loving, sea-faring woman whose love of the sea made me do what I can to protect it. But actually, I’m not. Well, I kind of am now, but I wasn’t four years ago. In fact, I was scared of the sea. I wouldn’t go on it, or in it and you pretty much had to drug me to fly over it. But something happened in 2014 that changed my life – and helped me form a real, tangible relationship with the very thing I was afraid of.

Strangely, it’s mostly down to an Albatross. A bird I’ve never seen and until five years ago never had an affinity with. I was scrolling through Facebook one day and a trailer for a film about the Laysan Albatross living on a group of Islands in the Pacific Ocean came up on my feed. But the film wasn’t about how magnificent these birds are; it was about how their chicks were dying from eating a diet of plastic. The adult Albatross swoops down from the sky to the sea to scoop up fish close to the surface – and mistakes floating colourful things like plastic bottle tops, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes for fish … which they then feed to their chicks. A third of these crazy beautiful, fluffy chicks are, starving to death in their nests with their bellies full of plastic

Connecting our actions to our oceans 

When I saw it for the first time, and every time since, I felt a deep sense of grief. It triggered a pain in me unlike anything I’d ever experienced when seeing human-caused environmental issues. And I think it was something about seeing everyday items that I used – my brand of toothbrush, ink cartridges, bottle caps – causing the death of something so beautiful – that woke me up to what I was doing … And I knew at that moment I couldn’t just sit back and allow this to happen. So from that day, I set about doing something about it, and City to Sea took shape.

Now for the weird and wonderful bit. I had a strange and unfathomable experience during my first crowdfunding campaign – a series of nine consecutive, immersive dreams in which the ocean gradually revealed itself to me. It was as if the moment I tangibly put my energy and focus on the thing I was scared of, and did something for it, it reached out back to me and did something for me too. It was life-changing, deep and profound. After that experience – a forming of my relationship with the sea – I actually wanted to get in the sea! So I started surfing and learnt to enjoy and appreciate the 71% of our planet that is ocean

 

Sea the change.  

I don’t think for a moment we are all destined to ‘give up our day jobs’ and start something new, but the reality is that we do all need to shift the focus of whatever it is we’re doing towards protecting what’s left of the environment. To make sure the 20 per cent of marine mammals remaining in the oceans recover their numbers. And that plastic pollution gets better, not worse.

Given the right conditions, oceans can regenerate. Rewilding the oceans, as well as the land, can help sequester vast amounts of CO2. Marine protected zones can help fish populations recover and thrive. And governments can implement deposit schemes, bans and taxes on single-use plastic to prevent it from polluting the seas.

We all need to do our bit. And while we’re doing it, why not head down to the coast from time to time to rest, play and dream our way into a healthier future, for you, me and the seas.

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A singing celebration of our ocean

Students at Horfield School in our hometown of Bristol, are celebrating World Ocean Day with a bit of a twist. They’ll be singing their Song of the Sea in celebration of the ocean and are challenging schools across the country to learn the words and sing along with them in a bid to raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution.

We first heard the song at the launch of the Polly Roger, Hubbub’s plastic fishing boat here in Bristol and knew we had to do something to help them in the quest to save our oceans.

The inspiration for Song of the Sea came when assistant headteacher Kirsten Cunningham attended a Science STEM summit with students and other schools from across Bristol and North Somerset. Here, the children spent a day learning about the ocean and the problems of plastic pollution and the team leading the STEM project challenged every school to make a difference.

“As we are passionate about Performing Arts, we decided that we’d make a difference through music and send a message as a song. We challenged our pupils to write poems about the ocean, the words from which inspired the lyrics for our song. Our aspiration is that as many schools as possible sing our song, to send its message as far as possible” – Claire Alsop, Horfield School

The song is suitable for whole-school singing, or with a smaller group such as a school choir. The resources are all contained in the description on the school’s YouTube, with a link to a free downloadable score, lyrics sheet and backing track. The video also has subtitled lyrics so children can sing along with the video.

We will be singing the #HorfieldSongoftheSea on June 7th, to mark World Oceans Day for Schools, and we hope you’ll join us!

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Breaking: All plastic cotton buds banned after successful #SwitchTheStick campaign

We are today celebrating the news that the British Government is completely banning plastic cotton buds, stirrers and straws. The move has been in the offing for more than a year after the agreement of the EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive and follows years of campaigning by  City to Sea including the successful #SwitchTheStick campaign.

The #SwitchTheStick campaign saw all major UK retailers announcing they would ‘Switch the Stick’ and only sell biodegradable paper stem buds. A move which stopped over 478 tonnes of single-use, non-recyclable plastic being produced each year.

Our founder Natalie Fee welcomed the news saying, “Since our successful #SwitchtheStick campaign in 2017 we’ve seen over 400 tonnes of plastic stopped at source each year through all major retailers having switched to paper stem buds. This ban will now mop up all the smaller retailers and pharmacies who still need to make the switch and hopefully make flushed cotton buds on UK riverbanks and beaches a thing of the past!”

Natalie also warned however that this is just the first step and that there is still a lot more to do. She continued, “Without sounding too much like a stick in the mud, today’s announcement also highlights how much more there is to do. We desperately need government to adopt a Deposit Return Scheme on all plastic bottles, we need them to commit to not send period products filled with plastics to schools and they need to be clear about how they plan to implement the EU’s Directive that demands countries ban other items including cutlery, plates, sticks for balloons, as well as cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastics.”

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Sign the petition: Plastic Free Schools need Plastic Free Periods!

We’ve just launched a new petition with 38 Degrees calling on the Department of Education to only purchase plastic-free period products for schools – setting young people up with products that are better for their bodies, the environment and their future.

Why is this important?

The government has made three promising commitments recently:

Having attended a government procurement meeting on period products for schools, it seems that they are not using joined up thinking to tackle all these problems at once. With all three commitments in mind we want the Department of Education to commit to only purchasing period products for schools that are plastic-free or reusable.

This would mean schools can offer students a range of plastic-free disposable products (tampons, pads and liners) and reusable products (menstrual cups and washable pads).

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 pad! 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.

If you want the government to use joined-up thinking in tackling these issues and commit to supplying plastic-free and reusable period products for schools please sign and share our petition here!

UPDATE:

We have received a response from the Department of Education (copied in full below). It is clear that we need to illustrate demand for this. Please sign and share the petition >>>

Full response:

Thank you for your email of 18 April, forwarding Ms Natalie Fee’s letter of the same date, addressed to the Secretary of State for Education, Damien Hinds, about the supply of menstrual products in schools and colleges. I am sure you will appreciate that the Secretary of State receives a vast amount of correspondence and is unable to answer each one personally. It is for this reason I have been asked to reply.

Our aim is to ensure that all pupils and student can access education without worrying about their periods, which is why we announced the scheme to provide access to free period products in primary and secondary schools and 16-19 institutions in England.

We are developing this scheme in conjunction with stakeholders from the private, public and third sectors, as well as schools and 16-19 institutions to ensure our solution best meets the needs of all students and pupils.

As a government we are committed to encouraging the use of environmentally friendly products wherever possible. The Government’s 25-year Environment Plan was launched last January and this pledges the elimination of avoidable plastic waste by 2042 and promises to consider steps to discourage plastic items that prove difficult to recycle. To support this plan, the Department for Education’s Schools Commercial Team is working with its partners and suppliers who provide goods and services to schools, to help them to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics throughout the supply chain. 

We are working to explore whether environmentally friendly products and sustainable products can be integrated into the period product scheme and further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.

Thank you for writing to us on this important issue.

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Tallulah Rendall releases stunning new music video in support of City to Sea.

This week, we’re excited to announce a new partnership with the stunning Tallulah Rendall, an amazingly talented singer-songwriter and sound therapist who has dedicated the video for her new single – Holding on to Love – Be The Change, to City to Sea!

 

Nominated for the Woman of the Future Arts Culture Award in 2014, hailed as ‘London’s most creative woman’ by AOL, and celebrated by Latitude Festival for her “voice of an angel” – Tallulah was one of the first artists to introduce crowdfunding in 2006 with her first EP, Without Time. She has since crowdfunded, released and toured four albums worldwide: Libellus (2009), Alive (2011), The Banshee And The Moon (2014), and now The Liminal (April 2019).

Feeling a symbiotic connection to City to Sea and their mission to prevent plastic from littering the world’s oceans, Tallulah welcomed the opportunity to collaborate, as she explains:

City to Sea invites each of us to explore our own relationship with plastic and environmental awareness through campaigning for policy and behavioural change. I love the rawness, heartfelt and sometimes even playful approach they use to engage us with this conversation. Personally, I feel passionate about supporting systemic change in our individual and collective relationship to both plastic and the environment. I believe in music’s ability to inspire change and if I can add my creative voice to something as vital as City to Sea’s mission and help more people engage with protecting our wildlife, rivers and seas then that is both an honour and a privilege.

Tallulah’s thought-provoking music video features exquisite time-lapse footage shot by 2014 Travel Photographer of the Year, Rufus Blackwell, as well as footage from the recent Extinction Rebellion protests in London. The video highlights the plight of the oceans amid the escalating plastic pollution crisis. An emotive cry to unite and make a stand, the video invites viewers to take responsibility for their plastic consumption, with a clear call to action: “You can be the change. Say no to single-use plastic, say yes to the future.”

City to Sea founder, Natalie Fee says:

We’re all about awakening active hope, championing practical solutions and inspiring positive action – and we love doing that creatively! I’m a huge fan of Tallulah’s new album, The Liminal, and we thought it would be potent to combine our voices and work together to spread the word that we can – and are – making a difference. With serious threats from the plastic industry to boost production there is a real danger that plastic pollution in our oceans could double by 2050. So we need to get the message out there, through art as well as emails, petitions and the news, that we can stop this from happening. Tallulah’s music fits wholly with our ethos – we can be the change.

 

Co-produced with acclaimed Berlin producer Aaron Ahrends, Holding onto Love, Be The Change reflects Tallulah’s intention to use her music as a conduit to inspire change, as demonstrated by previous songs such as We Don’t Want War: written in response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, all sales from this track were donated to Save The Children.

Explaining the concept behind her new album, The Liminal, Tallulah explains: “The ‘Liminal’ is an energetic, unquantifiable space which I attune to when I meditate or create. My deepening relationship with this connection has inspired me to believe in our human capacity to live an expansive life in harmony with ourselves, the planet we live on and each other. It is my passion to inspire and support this awakening in others through sound and creativity.”

We’re super proud and excited that Tallulah has chosen to work with us, and we hope you enjoy the single as much as we do! To view tour dates and order the album visit Tallulah Rendall’s website: www.tallulahrendall.com

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