Lil-Lets take a look at the good, the bad and the bloody greenwashing.

Sales of tampons and pads have dropped £5.6 million since 2016, Tampax have released a menstrual cup and more and more people are switching on to the amount of plastic in conventional period products. We’re seeing the big brands feel the pressure and in this latest video, our founder Natalie Fee explains how Tampax, Always and Lil-lets are responding to the changing tide … and advises how not to get your period pants in a twist. 🌊

Help us make a difference

A massive 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads and 700,000 panty liners are flushed in the UK each year (MCS 2015) – many of them making their way into our oceans and waterways. This is why it’s crucial we involve people from all walks of life in the conversation around reusable period products so we can begin to reduce these shocking numbers. This year, thanks to the support of people like you, we’ve successfully reached a whopping 1.3 million people through our Plastic Free Periods campaign. Awareness is rapidly increasing around the impact that plastic period products are having on our environment and reusable items are becoming more normal! So thank you to everyone who champions the cause and helps spread the word.

As we see more and more brands start to market ‘plastic-free’ messages, it’s important to champion the innovators and highlight the greenwashers. Companies like Natracare have been innovating for decades, promoting the use of organic and natural products, much more preferable than the bleached alternatives which also contain plastic. We’ve put together a guide with everything you need to know (and have always wanted to ask!) about switching to reusable menstrual products, including a list of brands and products reviews.

Find out more about our Plastic Free Periods campaign and how to get involved here.

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Help steer the ship as a Non-Executive Director with City to Sea

Like all good businesses, we never actually set out to become anything. Actually that may not be true, we imagine lots of good businesses started out with a robust business plan and a vision of the future. And yet what started as a frustration in our founder’s head (or heart) has somehow become a thriving not-for-profit organisation, growing award-winning campaigns and doing a pretty good job of getting people and businesses off single-use plastics and switched on to reusables.

One person on a mission became 18 (soon to be 20) people on a mission. In an office. With grown-up things to think about like HR, GDPR, PDRs and all manner of things that need explaining … and all while staying true to our mission to leave the oceans and waterways in a better state than we currently find them.

11/18th’s of the team one sunny day at the office.

It’s true to say that we’ve been building the ship while we’re sailing in it (and at times it’s felt more like a speedboat than a schooner) but we’re starting to feel a bit more streamlined and the wind’s still in our sails – thanks to the continued interest in plastic pollution solutions from our supporters, companies and the media.

So, as we head into 2019, with a new Sea-EO at the helm and a bunch of exciting new partnerships, we’re appointing a non-executive board to help steer and guide us on our way.

If you’re experienced, dynamic and entrepreneurial, and if you think you’d be able to offer some of your time, expertise or guidance and really want to help stop plastic pollution at source – then we’d love to hear from you.

We’re not able to pay our Non-Executive Directors (NEDs), but we will reward you with results – you’ll be able to see the impact of your commitment. We’re planning to meet once a quarter, either here at our iconic HQ on the Bristol Harbourside or in London.

Spot the Banksy …

Have a read of the job description here to see if you think we’re a match and for how to apply, or get in touch with our founder, Natalie Fee, for a chat. Oh and before the end of January would be ideal.

Thanks for reading!

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Meet our Sea-EO!

We’re excited to share the news that City to Sea have appointed a Chief Executive, Rebecca Burgess, to manage our growing team and build on this year’s incredible success as we move into 2019.

We’ve seen phenomenal growth over the last 12 months – evolving from a dedicated team of just 5 in early January 2018, to a team of 18.  The rapid growth follows an busy year of campaign success and both public and corporate interest in the issue of plastic pollution. Our Refill campaign was awarded Gold at the Global Good Awards earlier this year and now has the support of High St chains such as Costa, John Lewis, Morrisons, Greggs and Wetherspoons and through partnerships with transport hubs, including Network Rail and Heathrow Airport. The campaign is now going global, with plans to launch in Europe in 2019 and interest Internationally from Australia to Iceland.

Rebecca joined City to Sea in April 2018 as Head of Partnerships, to manage the growing network of businesses and organisations keen to support City to Sea’s work through campaigns such as Refill. After a few busy months she was appointed to the board as Commercial Director and naturally stepped into the role as Chief Executive as of December 2018.

Prior to City to Sea, Rebecca worked at Bristol-based independent consultancy Eunomia. Here she was responsible for the project management of Eunomia’s larger policy-related clients and oversaw the effective running of the twenty-strong consultants in the Policy and Sustainable Business teams. It was through working with the European Commission on their Plastic Strategy, that Rebecca felt inspired to do more in the fight against single-use plastic.  Rebecca will take over the role from December 1st 2018.

“I’m delighted to be taking on the role of Chief Executive at City to Sea at such a pivotal point in the organisation’s history. The growth we have seen over the past 12 months is a testament to both the amazing team we have and the increase in public and corporate concern about the issue of plastic pollution. I’m excited to see where we go next and look forward to leading the organisation into 2019 and beyond.”

City to Sea was founded in 2015 by Natalie Fee, an author, campaigner and recently one of Nesta’s 50 New Radicals. Having witnessed the amount of plastic flowing out of the river Avon into the Bristol Channel, during the city’s year as European Green Capital, Natalie, whose background was in media, was inspired to see if she could do something about it.

Natalie Fee will stay on in her role as Founder and continue to be the spokesperson for City to Sea as the organisation’s media presence continues to grow.

“I’m thrilled we’re in the position to offer Rebecca the role of Chief Executive. We’ve sprung up from nothing to become a key player in the fight against plastic pollution with a thriving, growing team. And while our enthusiasm and passion got us this far, it feels like great leadership and governance will be the key to our continued success.”

City to Sea are in the process of recruiting a non-executive board to help shape the future of the organisation. If this sounds like something you’d be interested or know someone with the skills and passion for the role get in touch.

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Santa & Mrs Claus on switching to a Plastic-Free Christmas 🎄🎅

We’re over the sleigh to share this exclusive interview with Mr & Mrs Claus.

After being inspired by all the actions across the globe and receiving letters from thousands of children to prevent plastic pollution, they’ve decided to look at their own single-use plastic habits at home as well as on the sleigh. Here, in this exclusive interview, they share with us how they’re making their celebrations plastic-free.

DISCLAIMER: Certain details and locations have been generalised or modified to protect confidential information about the location in which the Claus family reside.


Starting with you Mrs. Claus, over the centuries that Christmas has been ‘a thing’ how has it developed and adapted?

[MRS CLAUS] Sorry dear, you need to speak up I’m a bit deaf in my left ear.

[Question repeated]

Well, we’ve seen a whole range of things you see. When we started the business it was slow. But since the 1500s business has really been booming. But I’m a futurist, so I tend to be in a place where I look ahead.

Although we’ve found plastic to be useful for many Christmas-related things, plastic toys, for example, are light and easy to pull, but often they fall off the sleigh when things get bumpy (and unfortunately we’ve heard from City to Sea that plastic is getting into the ocean). So, we’re starting to innovate and begin to look into plastic-free alternatives.

[SANTA] Yes, as Mrs Claus (Santa calls his wife by this nickname) was saying, we’re looking into new ways to create a plastic-free Christmas not just for our house but for the billions of people around the world. It’s been a challenge, but with so many new ideas and products, we’ve been able to make a few changes and also encourage the elves to do the same.

That’s great news, it sounds like there was some effort involved but it paid off. So what are your favourite alternatives to plastic this year?

[SANTA] We’ve been very impressed by the inventive ideas people have come up with and we’ve also enjoyed looking back at the past to see what we did before plastic. My mother would always say “The way forwards is backwards!”.

[MRS CLAUS] We’re delivering more wooden toys than ever this year. Yes they’re heavier and take longer for the elves to build, but children are happy with them (most prefer the box they come in anyway). For the older kids – they’re totally switched on – we’ve had literally thousands of letters since Blue Planet II with requests from kids for plastic-free toys. Here’s a prototype one of the elves shared with me.

Photo by oxana v on Unsplash

Enclosed, Mrs Claus and I have included some of our favourite Plastic Free Christmas options as well as some gift ideas, please feel free to include them in your blog.

Thank you Mr & Mrs Claus, that saves us a job! And we’re sure our readers would much prefer to hear your tips anyway.

PLASTIC-FREE IDEA #1

Rudolf, as bright as his nose is, sometimes leads us to crash into the occasional tree, knocking off a pine cone or two. Using fallen pinecones, mistletoe, holly and whatever else you may find, you can create decorations that give that authentic “Claus family” feel without all the plastic.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

PLASTIC FREE IDEA #2

Presents don’t always have to be wrapped! Last year Mrs Claus and I gave a free Sleigh ride to an unsuspecting pensioner who had ‘given up on Christmas’. Give the gift of an experience to cut down on the wrapping.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

PLASTIC FREE IDEA #3

Lots of wrapping paper can either be laminated, dyed, or contain plastic which means it can’t be recycled and won’t breakdown. Go for what I call the ‘Classic Santa Style’ reusing old newspapers or magazines instead of buying new stuff. You can also decorate it with items from idea #1. Mrs Clause hates trying to find the end of the sellotape and can spend hours doing it … string is much quicker for her.

PLASTIC FREE IDEA #4

Go to your local market to find food and produce that isn’t covered in plastic packaging. Or get a local organic veg box delivered to you door (ask for plastic-free options). Some even use an electric van, which has inspired our next Sleigh modification (Rudolph is running out of steam and we’re no longer sure if making them work so hard is ethical).

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

PLASTIC FREE IDEA #5

The Elves love their crafts so much, they’ve encouraged myself and Mrs Claus to give it a go, so this year we’re making handmade cards for each other to avoid buying ones with a plastic sleeve.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

GIFT IDEAS

Find any of the products below at City to Sea’s Less Plastic Lifestyle collection in the Bear and Bear store. Mrs Claus and I are loving it, and with 15% of every purchase going towards funding City to Sea’s mission, maybe we’ll take next year off and just direct people to the collection. We could do with a year off anyway, as could the planet.

Wow, they’re some really good tips Mr and Mrs Claus. So what final thoughts can you leave us with?

[SANTA] We wish all of your supporters a very Merry Christmas from the whole Claus family and encourage them (and you!) to go as plastic-free as you can this year, whether it’s the stocking fillers you find, the food you eat or the gifts you exchange.

[MRS CLAUS] All the changes, may seem small but add up. And to enjoy it, Christmas is an overwhelming time for some we’re told, don’t let plastics add to that. (And if the rellies aren’t happy about the lack of plastic-wrapped sweets, just pretend you forgot to buy them!)

We’ve very much enjoyed this exchange and we look forward to working with City to Sea more in the new year.

Merry Christmas with lots of love from Mr and Mrs Claus xx

 

We want to thank Mr & Mrs Claus for taking time out at this busy time for them for choosing City to Sea for this World Exclusive interview.

p.s. Santa also asked us to pass on the message that he has developed a sherry intolerance, so if you’re able to swap out the sherry for a glass of milk (delivered in glass bottles) that would be great (‘cos I’m no longer drinking and driving. I get on it at New Year now days’ – He told us).

Please pass on the important message by sharing this blog with your friends.

 

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Launching the Less Plastic Lifestyle Collection

We’re beyond excited to launch our ‘Less Plastic Lifestyle Collection’ with our 1% for the Planet partner, Bear & Bear – an online retailer who sell products that are made for the outdoors and desined for life.  The Less Plastic Lifestyle Collection launches just in time for Christmas so you can find the perfect gifts for friends and family that they can use throughout the new year to reduce their plastic footprint.

Besides having supported our work throughout 2018, Bear & Bear have enabled us to reach an ambition of ours – launching our first ever collection for those looking to reduce their environmental impact and single-use plastic consumption. This ever-evolving collection includes all of the ‘must have’ items if you’re looking to start reducing your single-use plastic use, from bottles, cups and bamboo cutlery to rose gold metal straws and reusable coffee cups made from rice husk. If you’re already on the journey to living plastic free and want some more ideas for smart plastic alternatives, we’re also pretty confident you’ll see products in this collection which you may not have seen before.

Even better, at least 15% of every purchase is going to go towards supporting our campaigns to tackle plastic pollution at source.

Shop the collection here, and join the movement to reduce your plastic footprint. Don’t forget to like, share and tweet your comments and show us what small changes you’re making in everyday life to connect your actions to your oceans.

Running a business and want to get involved in supporting our work? Please get in touch with our Partnerships Manager at Alannah@citytosea.org.uk.

Happy Shopping!

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The Toilet Tour…… It’s Bog Standard!

This World Toilet Day we bared (almost) all and hit the streets of Essex to spread the word about our Bog Standard campaign!

Research has shown that more than 8.5% of plastics found on UK beaches comes from our toilets following sewer blockages. The flushed items causing mayhem in the sewer system primarily consist of ‘the Dirty Dozen’ – baby wipes, household cleaning wipes, facial wipes, bum wipes (all types of wipes!), tampons (yep they usually contain plastic), tampon applicators, cleansing pads, cigarettes, plasters, nappies, menstrual pads and cotton wool.

You may have seen in the news a couple of weeks ago that although many businesses label their wet wipes as ‘flushable’ – none of them actually adhere to the water companies flushable standards! Wet wipes alone make up 93% of matter causing sewer blockages and overflow… It’s time to change our secret flushing behaviour!

This is why on Sunday 18th and Monday 19th November we went on a 3 day #ToiletTour around Brentwood, Chelmsford and Cambridge to raise awareness about how we can all be part of the solution. To help keep our seas plastic-free, only flush paper, poo and pee!

It’s Bog Standard.

During the tour, our amazing volunteers and partners helped us put up Bog Standard stickers in the toilet cubicles of Brentwood Kitchen, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, The Works, Nandos, Zizzi’s, Giraffe, Slug & Lettuce, Turtle Bay, Wilkin & Co, Tiptree Tea Rooms, Chicken & Frog, Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin Universities & both Cambridge and Brentwood Councils. We even got Cllr. Rosy Moore (Exec Cllr for Environmental Services in Cambridge) to sit on the bog with us!

Our founder, Natalie Fee said: “We’re facing an environmental crisis when it comes to plastic pollution, yet many people aren’t aware of just how many bathroom products contain plastic. We’re proud to be working with Anglian Water to raise awareness of a simple way that we can stop needless plastic pollution at source.”

A huge thank you to everyone that has supported this project so far – watch this space for a national campaign next year!

If you want to know how else you can help reduce plastic pollution from your bathroom check out our Bog Standard  and Plastic-Free Period campaigns.

The City to Sea team 💙

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They axed the plastic tax

In case you didn’t catch the news, on the 30th Nov Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the UK will introduce a new plastic tax on the *manufacture and import* of plastic packaging that contains *less than 30% recycled* plastic during his Autumn Budget speech. It won’t be implemented for another four years and that’s subject to (another) consultation.

So not a visible tax on single-use items, like coffee cups, at point of sale, like you and almost a quarter of a million people asked for through this petition. And 31% of you went on to respond to HM Treasury’s consultation seeking views on tackling the single-use plastic issue – which had the highest government consultation response rate EVER in government history.

Despite your efforts, and our attempt to persuade the government to take meaningful action on plastic pollution now, they have chosen to ignore us. For now at least. Our sense is that this set-back in England creates political space for devolved governments in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to take the lead. Again.

(When England said no to the 5p bag charge, the Welsh government went and did it anyway, followed by Northern Ireland, then Scotland. Finally Westminster got with the programme … and plastic bag use has since gone down by 86%.)

If you want to hear more, have a quick watch of my video response on Facebook or Twitter here.

 

Thanks for your support – the fight doesn’t stop here!

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National Refill Day

Here at City to sea, our Refill campaign has been heads down, bottles up 🙃

To say that 2018 was a big year for Refill would be an understatement, not only for the Refill project but for us, the City to Sea team behind the campaign. Following our partnership with Water UK, the project has gone from [take a deep breath here] a grass-roots, after-work, spare time, experimental extravaganza to a globally recognised, award-winning campaign reaching hundreds of thousands of individuals and communities across the UK and abroad.

It’s enough to make all our mums proud.

So to celebrate we created National Refill Day on the 27th September. Yep, a whole national day! And we launched a new Refill app too…

We’re back in 2019 to do it all over again.

This year National Refill Day will be on the 19th of June.

Head over to the Refill website to find out more. 

And don’t forget to use your refillable bottle and share on social media with the hashtags #RefillRevolution #NationalRefillDay and together, let’s create a ripple of Refill love across the nation!

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Your signature is needed!

We’re calling for a tax on plastic

Our latest petition with 38 Degrees has over 240,000 signatures! Is yours on it? It needs you!

We’re asking the government to introduce a visible tax on throwaway (single use) plastic. Such as coffee cups, pint cups, cutlery  and take away  polystyrene at the point of sale, like the current plastic bag charge. YOU can sign it here.

People ask:

Why charge the customer? We pay enough taxes, the retailers should be held responsible!

Indeed they should, but if the charge went to the retailers experts suggest all they would do is hike up their prices, the consumer would still pay – unknowingly – and it would be business as usual with millions of single use items being used every day.

Millions of sinlge-use plastic items are used in the UK everyday

The levvy is an incentive for people to be able to refuse the charge, along with the item. Just like the plastic bag charge, which has seen an 80% reduction at large retailers where the charge is applicable.

It will also bring the conversation of plastic pollution into the wilder realm. Yes ten million people watched Blue Planet II, but that’s 60 million who didn’t. Sir David Attenborough has been talking about it all over the media, but when we look around in the ‘real world’ it’s clear to see, some places still give out ‘take away’ cups to sit in, more needs to be done!

Just days ago “The Sun revealed that Mr Hammond had privately blasted Mr Gove’s radical approach to cutting plastic waste – arguing that it wrongly targets consumers.” You can read The Sun article here.

This petition needs YOU to get behind it before the Budget, to stand behind Micheal Gove and let the government know this could prevent millions of tons of single use plastics entering our waste stream.

Read the full petition text and sign it here. A last minute rise in signatures may just be what it needs to make it happen, there’s still time to get the conversation on the table where it matters most …. and then in that suitcase!

Header photo by rawpixel on Unsplash. Cup photo by Sagar Chaudhray on Unsplash

Find out what happened in our latest blog post here. 
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We’re hiring!

We’re hiring!!!

  • Are you passionate about tackling plastic pollution and eager to make a difference?
  • Do you have experience working with partners to elevate campaigns, brands organisations?
  • Are you a natural networker who builds relationships fast?
  • Are you a persuasive and can-do individual whose solutions focused and proactive?
  • Are you confident managing partner expectations and encouraging them to do more?
  • Do you thrive in a fast-moving, agile environment?
  • Are you able to prioritise a busy workload to ensure you’re having the greatest impact?
  • Are you an excellent communicator who is able to influence a wide range of people with

    tact?

If you’ve answered yes to all the above, or you have a friend who will … you might be the one we’re seeking! Follow the link for the full job description and how to apply.

We look forward to hearing from you, good luck!

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