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 [email protected]  

Entries must be submitted by 12:00 July 17th 

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

Terms and Conditions apply.

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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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SMK Award for Environmental Justice goes to #SwitchtheStick!

An evening of inspiration and celebration took place yesterday evening when the SMK 2017 Campaigner Awards celebrated this years’ leading campaigners and change-makers.

One of the winners is Bristol-based Natalie Fee, who has won the Environmental Justice Award for her ‘Switch the Stick’ campaign after being shocked at the amount of plastic cotton buds she was finding during beach cleans along the River Avon in Bristol and on beaches in Cornwall.

Natalie, who founded the campaign group City to Sea, secured funding from three water companies and soon after, secured 6000 signatures and 80,000 views of her campaign film. After being approached by 38 Degrees ‘Campaigns by You’, over 155,000 people signed the petition and over 100,000 viewed her second campaign film. By December 2016 all UK supermarkets had agreed to ‘Switch the Stick’ to paper, a move which will prevent at least 89 tonnes of single-use, potentially ‘flushable’ plastic being produced each year.

Cotton buds collected on a North Devon beach. © Michelle Cassar
Cotton buds collected on a North Devon beach. © Michelle Cassar

Speaking of her win, Natalie said: “Receiving the SMK Environmental Justice Award for my work with City to Sea is a huge win for the oceans and a great honour for us as an organisation. This kind of recognition will go a long way to help us and many other non-profits campaigning to stop marine plastic pollution in achieving our goals. Sheila McKechnie was a phenomenal force for change and it’s a great privilege to be championed by those continuing her legacy.”

SMK’s Chief Executive Sue Tibballs said: ‘The SMK Campaigner Awards provide us with a unique opportunity to support some of the inspiring, innovative and often courageous people who are speaking out to effect change.’

‘All of our winners this year are a credit to the causes they serve and our organisation is ready to provide them with mentoring and support in sustaining and taking forward their successful campaign work.’

City to Sea founder Natalie Fee receives her award from Eugenie Harvey, Director of the Frederick Mulder Foundation.
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ALL Major UK Retailers Pledge to ‘Switch the Stick’ to Stop Source of Plastic Pollution

All major UK retailers have agreed to phase out plastic cotton buds by the end of 2017 following concern over the number that are ending up on our beaches.

City to Sea, alongside Scottish charity Fidra, have been calling for retailers to phase out plastic-stemmed cotton and switch to paper to cut down the amount of plastic ending up on our beaches and in our rivers. City to Sea’s ‘Switch the Stick’ campaign has also been supported by over 155,000 members of 38 Degrees. To the delight of all, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Morrisons, Lidl, BootsUK, Superdrug and Wilko have communicated their commitment to ensure their own label cotton bud products will be made with paper stems by the end of 2017.

A Tesco’s spokesperson commented: “We’re committed to ensuring all of our own label cotton bud products will be made with paper stems, and will do this by the end of 2017.”

Similarly, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We have been working hard to improve this product. Our new cotton buds, with 100% biodegradable stems, will be available before the end of 2017.”

An Asda spokesperson said: “This is an area where we’re working hard to make a difference and we’re pleased to confirm that all our own brand cotton buds products will be made with paper stems by 2017.”

And an Aldi spokesperson said: “As a responsible retailer, we are committed to removing plastic from our cotton buds by the end of 2017.”

Natalie Fee, City to Sea founder: “We’re delighted with the commitment from so many major supermarkets to ‘Switch the Stick’ from plastic to paper stem buds. Whilst they still shouldn’t be flushed, this move will stop millions of plastic stems ending up in the marine environment each year and is a huge win in the fight against marine plastic pollution.”

Dr Clare Cavers, Research Officer from Fidra’s Cotton Bud Project: “Johnson & Johnson and Waitrose pledged to change to paper cotton buds in Spring this year, and we are very pleased to see other retailers following their lead. Plastic pollution in our seas is a major problem, so by making this positive change, we are a step closer to cleaner oceans.”

Plastic cotton bud stems are the number one item of plastic, sewage-related debris on our beaches and rivers [1] – yet UK retailers can help prevent this by switching the stick from plastic to paper – and over 155,000 people have shown their support to the cause by signing up to City to Sea’s campaign on the 38 Degrees website.

In the marine environment, plastics can be eaten by marine life, often with fatal consequences. Plastic is found in the stomachs of Loggerhead Turtles, seabirds and many species of UK-caught fish. And pieces that don’t get eaten break down into micro-plastics, forming part of a dangerous plastic smog in our seas.

The 38 Degrees petition has received over 155,000 signatures in support of the City to Sea campaign.

Trish Murray, campaigner at 38 Degrees, added: “The public’s overwhelming support for this campaign shows that there is a real desire for retailers to provide environmentally sound alternatives.’

It’s great news that six supermarkets in the UK have made a commitment this week following Natalie’s campaign and the support of thousands of 38 Degrees members. The huge petition has sent a clear message to all shops – customers expect them to switch to paper cotton buds to protect our wildlife and our seas.”

City to Sea's 'Fish & Sticks'
© City to Sea

[1] Beachwatch Report 2015, Marine Conservation Society

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Solutions to Plastic Pollution at the Festival of Nature!

After months of planning and the generous support of Natracare, it was great to finally  set up at the Festival of Nature, meet the lovely attendees and engage them with the problems and practical solutions of marine plastic pollution.

Alby the Albatross proved a real eye-catcher as children discovered what she had been eating for dinner. ‘What’s not yummy in the Albatross’ tummy?’ – you guessed it – bottle top lids and lighters. Continue reading “Solutions to Plastic Pollution at the Festival of Nature!”

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Spark Something Good

We at City to Sea were delighted to be one of the organisations selected for the Bristol Spark Something Good week. Eight Marks & Spencer stores from Weston to Yate took part in Spark Something Good, which saw 300 volunteers give up over 2,000 hours for free, in order to make a positive difference.

Director of Plan A at Marks & Spencer, Mike Barry commented: “There’s a tremendous sense of camaraderie when people come together to give something back to their local community and that’s exactly what Spark Something Good is all about. I’m thrilled that Bristol has embraced our initiative in this way and got stuck in, and I’m proud to have played a small part.” Continue reading “Spark Something Good”

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Getting the Council to do its bit in cutting Single Use Plastics


We’ve always seen Bristol City Council as a natural partner in tackling the problem of marine plastic pollution at source. In fact we believe that the council has an amazing opportunity to be a world leader in this field. With our year as Green Capital drawing to an end it was time to work closer with the Mayor and Council to create a lasting legacy that other cities can learn from and imitate the world over.

In the first Full Council of 2016 Cllr Gus Hoyt – a founding member of the City to Sea steering group and key team-member of Refill Bristol – took a Motion which outlined constructive and step-by-step ways in which the City Council as property owner, caterer, landlord and events licenser could play a key role in lowering the mount of SUP (Single-Use Plastics) Bristol wastes every year. Continue reading “Getting the Council to do its bit in cutting Single Use Plastics”

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City to Sea at the Bristol Festival of Nature

We’re curating part of the Ocean area at this year’s Bristol Festival of Nature from the 11-12th June! We’ll have interactive installations and be running solutions-focused workshops highlighting the problems with plastic getting into our rivers and oceans.

BFN2013 A4 Poster-2.indd

The City to Sea area has been created thanks to the support of Natracare who are also providing free samples for us to give away as well as products to sell in our solutions shop.

We’ll also be demonstrating how to shop plastic-free with our ‘scoop shop’ thanks to Essential Trading who are supplying a load of loose products for hungry festival-goers to buy! We’ll also have Elephant Box lunch tins on sale as well as other reusable, non-plastic products. To entertain the kids there’ll be a fun ‘treasure trail’ to do around the whole festival with prizes to be won. Come and say hello! Continue reading “City to Sea at the Bristol Festival of Nature”

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Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett talks Microbeads with City to Sea (2 minute video)

At the end of December 2015, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett made the call for manufacturers to be banned from using microbeads in cosmetics and soaps sold in the UK. She made the announcement after US president Barack Obama signed a new law banning the selling of products with the polluting plastic particles in them.

Microbeads are tiny particles of plastic that are needlessly added to hundreds of personal care products around the world. They pass straight down the sink or shower, into the drains and directly into the sewer system. Our sewage treatment plants can’t filter out microbeads, hence the reason they’re causing havoc in our oceans. A recent analysis estimated that 8 trillion microbeads wind up in aquatic habitats every day in the U.S. alone. That’s enough to cover more than 300 tennis courts every day, according to a scientific opinion article published this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

So when Natalie Bennett came to Bristol, City to Sea founder Natalie Fee thought she’s ask her what more can be done to bring about a ban in the UK. Continue reading “Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett talks Microbeads with City to Sea (2 minute video)”

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