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New campaign launched to make Ripon a plastic-free city

Emma Pilkington at Ripon canal basin.
Emma Pilkington at Ripon canal basin.

Reducing our plastic use has never been more topical, with devastating scenes from David Attenborough's Blue Planet II series elevating the profile of the issue both nationally and globally - and now, closer to home, a proactive Ripon resident has launched a new group to make a difference locally.

By her own admission, Emma Pilkington does not lead a plastic free life, and she isn't "militant" about her campaign to cut out plastic, either.

But what Emma has done is set up Ooops Ripon (Opt out of plastic scheme) because she wants herself and others to share the journey to being plastic-free, creating a group for city residents to share ideas, advice and top tips - and it's about lobbying businesses in Ripon, too.

Emma said: "My ultimate aim is to see if Ripon can become a plastic-free city. But I know that's going to take a while, Rome wasn't built in a day. But my first aim is to see if we can reduce plastic bags in retail in Ripon, to try and encourage them to stop or reduce their plastic bag use.

"It would also be good to try and encourage people to shop with an alternative carrier bag, I think it's easy to just get used to having plastic bags."

Emma was inspired to set up the group after seeing the amount of plastic left lying around after Christmas, and shocking figures on plastic pollution and the impact on seabirds have also been a big trigger.

A trip to Whitby over Christmas to see a rare fulmar gull reminded Emma of a statistic that has haunted her as a birdwatcher - that a study of 600 fulmars washed up on the beach found that 95 per cent had plastic lodged in their stomachs.

Emma said: "In Ripon you can feel quite far removed from the sea, but if plastic goes in our rivers it can get washed out to sea. I've seen huge amounts of plastic on the banks of the river and along the canal when I've been out walking.

"Ripon is such a nice community, I just thought I'd set this up to see if we can do something about it, and between us get some momentum going in the city. I am not plastic free, I am just a normal person, and I hope I can have a journey with everyone else in Ripon.

"It is something that we can all do together rather than me telling people - we can share ideas and tips about what we can do."

Already Emma has ideas of organising a city-wide clean-up day, and is passionate about securing the backing of supermarkets in Ripon through support or sponsorship.

Emma said: "Please join my group. It's not a militant, shaming group. I am sharing some of the top plastic news and hope to start filming quick tips to help make you think about plastic choices.

"We hope to start a banish a bag scheme in Ripon soon, then who knows? The sky is the limit."

Email Emma at: sppilkington@hotmail.co.uk to join the group, or find the Facebook page by searching "Ooops Ripon."