Find out how Prestwich Environmental Forum is supporting local businesses to go plastic free.
Local businesses and organisations across Prestwich have been getting involved in a project facilitated by the Prestwich Environmental Forum, to cut down the use of single-use plastics. Dan Wedmann, a member of the forum and leader of the project, explains how it works: “The Plastic Free Prestwich project is part of a national project run by a charity called Surfers Against Sewage, one of the most active environmental charities in the UK. They support communities to tackle single use plastics which are used in everyday life by local businesses. It’s primarily set up as a positive, supportive project, to celebrate the good work that’s done and provide a bit of help to people who want to make positive changes. It also links up with other communities across the UK. There are a few hundred areas that already have plastic free status, including Ramsbottom. They were the first in Bury and we’re hoping to be the second.”
The programme operates around key objectives which Prestwich needs to meet: “There are five key objectives, one of which is to work with small or medium sized enterprises and help them identify three pieces of single use plastic used in their business practices and to offer alternatives or ways to reduce that. Once they’ve done that the businesses apply to the charity to get plastic free status.”
It’s not only businesses that can get involved in reducing plastic usage: “The other key objective is very similar except it’s based around allies,” Dan explains. “These can be community groups, faith organisations, schools, libraries, and even sports teams. Basically, any kind of group in the community that wants to support the project can sign a little pledge to reduce the single-use plastic they use, but also just support the general campaign and message in their comms. We need 12 businesses and 30 allies to get signed up in order for Prestwich to be accredited as plastic free.”
The project is one that Prestwich Environmental Forum has been considering since its inception: “The idea originally stemmed back to when we set up as a forum. We had a couple of really good meetings where people generated ideas about what they wanted to do through the forum.
One of the ideas was looking at single use plastics and supporting businesses in the community. We were then set back a bit by COVID, because we couldn’t do anything in-person. During that time we reassessed our priorities, and this seemed like it was quite popular with our members, and it had a structured approach set up by the charity.”
The Plastic Free Prestwich project has seen a lot of interest in the community, with many businesses – including the Fed – jumping on board to help improve Prestwich’s environment: “There’s a lot of interest and enthusiasm, especially from independent businesses. There’s a nice community feel in Prestwich anyway, so this sits nicely with that. I think the public are quite keen on projects like this.”
This project is far from the only thing that Prestwich Environmental Forum is working on at the moment: “We’ve got a few projects going at the minute, which are all decided by our members. We ask them at the beginning of the year to help us prioritize what we do with our time. We are supporting residents next to Warwick Street Green, who were successful in saving a bit of land that was going to be sold off, including five mature trees, supporting them in a project to improve that green space and make it into a community space. And we’ve been doing a lot of work in the last year working with the council in their climate strategies and supporting the set-up of forums in the other townships.”
To find out more, visit the forum on Facebook @PrestwichEF