First clean-up event and national recognition: Update on campaign to make Ripon plastic free

Emma Pilkington of Plastic Free Ripon.
Emma Pilkington of Plastic Free Ripon.

The efforts of a newly formed campaign group could see Ripon being nationally recognised as a plastic free city.

Featured in the 'Gazette only two weeks ago, city resident Emma Pilkington first set up Facebook group Ooops Ripon (Opt out of plastic scheme) to gauge local interest in cutting down plastic use.

It started out as a relatively informal idea, a forum to exchange top tips and ways of being more environmentally friendly, and, importantly, that element of it has stayed - but in just a fortnight it's also become more formally established, with Emma attracting almost 200 members to join the group, which has been renamed Plastic Free Ripon.

What started out as big dreams and ambitions are becoming a lot more concrete for Emma, as the group sets its sights on making Ripon a plastic free community under environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage's national framework.

Plastic Free Ripon must meet specific criteria to achieve the status, which includes objectives around organising events, winning the support of businesses, and engaging with schools and community groups.

The group has also organised its very first litter pick and clean-up of Ripon on March 4, supported by Ripon City Council. Emma is excited about the opportunities that achieving plastic free status could bring.

She said: "I think it's definitely doable, other cities have done it. I think it could be quite a big attraction for Ripon. It fits in well with the visitor perception of Ripon being surrounded by beautiful countryside, with attractions like Fountains Abbey and the Cathedral.

"This would be going all out to be environmentally friendly, and I think reducing plastic is quite a pull for tourists, and it's good for businesses. It could be a unique selling point for Ripon. Being plastic free is something that we can really push as a city."

The group has already been in talks with a national business in Ripon. Emma said: "I'm really hoping they will take it on board, and that there will be a domino effect, where everyone else will start to follow.

"If you look on the map that Surfers Against Sewage has of plastic free communities, and look at the whole of North Yorkshire, there is quite a big gap, so we could be one of the first or the first in our area to be plastic free."

Keen to hear from any residents who are interested in taking part in the group's first litter pick on March 4, Emma said: "If they could get in touch with us and do an hour of removing plastic and rubbish to stop it getting into our water. damaging animals and stop pets ingesting it, it will make a massive difference. Together we can really make Ripon sparkle."

Emma has also welcomed the litter pick that's been organised by the Friends of Hell Wath group on March 3, excited by the concentrated push over a number of days to clean up Ripon.

To get in touch about taking part in the litter pick or to find out more information about Plastic Free Ripon, contact Emma: sppilkington@hotmail.co.uk, or search Plastic Free Ripon on Facebook.