The Citizen has teamed up with local campaigner Bettina Maidment to encourage organisations across the borough to make Hackney “plastic-free”.
Fed up with seeing more and more litter on Hackney’s streets, in the River Lea and on beaches while holidaying, Bettina decided to drastically reduce the amount of plastic used by her family.
She said: “Whilst I love that I’ve been able to make an impact on a small scale, I quickly realised that the problem of plastic pollution is up there alongside climate change as one of the greatest threats to the environment.”
The Marine Conservation Society estimates there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, and environmental charity Greenpeace revealed last year that the world’s largest drinks company, Coca-Cola, manufactures around 100 billion throwaway bottles annually – over 3,000 a second.
Bettina added: “I’ve become passionate about reducing plastic pollution and, whilst since the airing of Blue Planet 2 people are definitely waking up to the problem, I felt I wanted to do more – I wanted to create a plastic-free community right here in Hackney.”
Bettina heard about an initiative by Surfers Against Sewage to expand on its original goal of cleaning up UK coastlines and create a network of plastic-free communities.
She immediately signed up to become a community leader, and started PlasticFreeHackney.
“Whilst individual action is great and we can all do more to reduce our own plastic consumption what we need is fundamental change from the top down,” Bettina said.
“Whether government has to legislate to enforce change, or businesses voluntarily move away from plastics to more sustainable options, change needs to happen!
“Restaurants, cafés and businesses could all make just a few steps to ensure that as a consumer it much easier to make greener choices.”
PlasticFreeHackney’s initial goals follow the framework set out by Surfers Against Sewage.
They include encouraging local businesses to replace at least three single-use plastic items with sustainable alternatives, persuading a third of schools in the area to go plastic-free, as well as half of Hackney’s community spaces.
Bettina said: “Plastic pollution is a scourge that affects citizens around the world, and that includes Hackney.
“To think that we’re not part of the global plastic pandemic and contributing to ocean plastics is simply not true – from the litter in the streets entering storm drains and entering the River Lea our waste here in London plays a part.”
She added: “I’m really excited that the Hackney Citizen has joined us in our campaign to create a plastic-free community – this is a movement to engage and connect individuals, communities and businesses in the collective effort to reduce the flow of single-use plastics into the environment.
“Having the Citizen on board will I’m sure help us achieve this goal and ensure we can spread the message across the community to make the borough a cleaner and greener place for us all to enjoy.”
Bettina is urging local organisations, businesses, community groups and schools to get on board and help kickstart the campaign.
If you’re interested in signing up, or just want to find out more, please email Bettina@plasticfreehackney.com