Arran bids to be first plastic free island

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Sub-heading: Schoolchildren lead the fight for a paper revolution

By Hugh Boag

A bold bid is being made to make Arran the first plastic free island in Scotland.

And local schoolchildren, who have the most to benefit from the clean and prosperous environment in the years ahead, will be leading the way with a range of exciting initiatives to achieve that goal.

The campaign was kick-started by a visit from the Sunnyside Ocean Defenders, the primary pupils from Easterhouse who have already had nationwide success with their #NaeStrawAtAw campaign, highlighted in the Banner last week.

But the baton has now been picked up by Arran’s seven primary schools who intend to press businesses and organisations across the island to turn their backs on plastic and help save the marine environment.

The move comes after eight pupils from Sunnyside visited Arran on Monday with their teachers where they gave a presentation of their work to Arran pupils, community representatives and businessmen.

They had been invited to Arran by the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) who already work with the Glasgow school. After the presentation they gave each of the primary schools a project bag to work with and were themselves presented with specially printed Arran #NaeStrawAtAw mugs.

During their visit the children also met with businessman Alastair Dobson and representatives of COAST and Eco Savvy as well as Serge and Meg El Adm at the Lamlash Bay Hotel.

Arran head teacher Shirley MacLachlan said: ‘We are delighted to be working alongside the Ocean Defenders from Sunnyside Primary school on their #Nae Straw At Aw campaign and thank them for coming to Arran.

‘The children from across the schools are now going back to share the information from the fabulous presentation to move forward on making Arran a plastic straw free island –  the first in Scotland.

‘The children will be contacting local hotels and businesses within their respective villages to share information and encourage the use of alternatives to move away from plastic. Our schools in North Ayrshire are plastic straw free zones as we already drink milk and water from reusable glasses- this has saved the use of over 500, 000 straws each year.

‘I am very proud of the enthusiasm shown by everyone involved in the campaign and we are looking forward to the next visit on February 27 when the Ocean Defenders are bringing some children from Ullapool with them. We are making plans to visit some of our beaches and to work alongside COAST.’

Mr Dobson, the managing director of Taste of Arran and Arran Dairies, is passionate about the campaign. He said: ‘It is fantastic seeing and hearing what the inspirational pupils and staff from Sunnyside Primary School have achieved with their project and how it has shone the light on the other activities they are involved with.

‘It would be great to encourage the young people of Arran to further develop the ambassadorial lead in how we can work towards ‘Arran – a sustainable island’. It is so refreshing how the younger generations really get the environmental issues that face us. There are also so many unsung heroes within our community who have beem involved in clearing plastics from our beaches and paths. There is a real opportunity for all of this great activity to be encouraged and developed for a more sustainable message from Arran. It is all the wee things that count – I have even stopped using coffee pods!

‘Arran Dairies as a supply company to all hospitality businesses on Arran, have been working hard to pull together a list of products where we can offer more sustainable options to current packaging and disposable purchases and we would be delighted to develop this further.’

VisitArran chief executive Sheila Gilmore said: ‘The presentation from Sunnyside was very inspirational, and it’s absolutely fantastic to see the Arran primary schools getting behind this environmental campaign.  I don’t doubt for a minute that our own young people will do an excellent job and VisitArran and the Arran Trust will be happy to support them in any way we can.’

Now the adults are getting involved to with a group from COAST and Eco Savvy moving to launch a plastic free island campaign, under the auspices of the Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) Plastic Free Coastlines scheme.

One of the backers is Sue Weaver who last year took part in the environmental eXXpedition round Britain voyage who said: ‘This would involve setting up a steering group – involving NAC, voluntary groups and island businesses – to co-ordinate volunteer action and reducing single use plastics, in cafes, pubs, village halls etc.’

To start things off, COAST are showing the Sky Ocean Rescue film of the voyage, at 7pm tonight (Friday) at the Old Pavilion in Lamlash.

Sue added: ‘I’ll be introducing it with fellow crew member Deborah Maw and we will have a panel discussion afterwards, looking at what Arran can now do.’


The Sunnyside Ocean Defenders with representatives of all seven primary schools on Arran who are taking up the plastic fight. 01_B06straw01

The Sunnyside pupils are thrilled with their special mugs. 01_B06straw02

The Glasgow pupils featured Arran in their presentation. 01_B06straw04

The hall was packed with children and community representatives for the presentation. 01_B06straw05

The event was filmed by BBC Scotland. 01_B06straw06

Sunnyside pupils discuss plastic reduction with Meg Al Adm at the Lamlash Bay Hotel. NO_B06straw10

The Sunnyside pupils with businessman Alastair Dobson and representatives of COAST and Eco Savvy. 01_B06straw11