20 October 2021

Our Environment and Sustainability Project Panel

Debbie Apted has been our secretary for over 7 years and has now stood down from the position - but not the committee - to be our project panel lead on environment and sustainability. This keeps her very busy! Here's how Debbie first got involved, and what she has planned: 


So how did I get here?  Since a little girl when my dad used to take me birdwatching with him I’ve always had a love of nature, and four years ago when I watched a video online of a turtle having a plastic straw removed from its bleeding nose I went out and bought a metal one.  I thought my job was done and I’d saved the world!  Not long after that my friend showed me a newspaper article about Aberystwyth who were applying for plastic-free status from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and suggested it would be great if Weston could apply for it too.  I took this idea back to our Committee and that’s where it all began.  Our Cleaner Coastlines campaign launched with a beach clean in October 2017, coincidentally the same day the first broadcast of Blue Planet 2 aired.  I think I can pinpoint that as the day my life changed completely!


One of our five objectives to achieving the SAS accreditation was for a minimum of 30 businesses in town to remove at least 3 items of single-use plastic to become our plastic-free business champions, and we were delighted that about 50 came on board, with more being added all the time.  Weston was the 30th community in the UK to achieve plastic-free status just nine months later, but the campaign doesn’t stop there and we continue to work with both of our councils as well as local businesses to raise awareness of plastic pollution in Weston and North Somerset.  Today there are over 800 communities in the UK all working to reduce single-use plastic and 100 of these have been awarded plastic-free status.


And now as we approach COP26 to address the climate emergency, which is so intrinsically linked to plastic pollution, there is a real need to build on the success of our plastic-free campaign and start to collaborate with other organisations across North Somerset to get the message out about how we can reduce our carbon footprints.  Small businesses will be playing a large part in this too, which is why the Chamber applied for funding from the Quartet Community Foundation Megawatt Fund to deliver six free Curry & Conversation sessions over the next few months.  We do hope you will come along and enjoy a good discussion over curry prepared by Chutneys Takeaway.


The first of these will be held at Weston Football Club from 11am – 2.30pm on Monday 8th November, during COP26, and will focus on plastic pollution and recycling, a subject dear to many!  Other topics covered will be food waste, rewilding, fast fashion, the circular economy, energy, transport and carbon footprints. The aim is to equip businesses and individuals to address the climate emergency and to start making changes in their day-to-day lives.  Even if we make only small steps now – remember my metal straw - it will be a move in the right direction.  It’s time we all take responsibility and be part of the solution.


Weston Chamber of Commerce as an organisation will be learning how to measure and reduce our own carbon emissions and you can too.  Spaces are limited so booking is essential.  Full details of each workshop and how to register are on our website www.cleanercoastlines.org.uk/events or telephone Debbie on 07974 190660.  We look forward to seeing you there.


Updated: 20-10-2021