Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Why it’s so important we do all we can to #PassOnPlastic

Last October like millions of other viewers I sat down to watch Blue Planet 2. It was even more spectacular than the original Blue Planet and thanks to David Attenborough and the amazing research and film crew, the programme was able to unfold some of the mysteries of our oceans and its amazing inhabitants. 

However, it was rightly not all easy watching. The terrible issue of plastic seriously polluting our seas and threatening so many species of fish was clearly brought to all our attention. 

It was a good wake up call for all of us, and I have been pleased to see the issue, quite rightly, gain a lot of publicity since the programme aired at the end of last year. 

Of course, the issue isn’t just about protecting our oceans. As a council one of our priorities is to try and reduce waste wherever possible. This makes sense both in terms of the effect on the environment and the cost to the taxpayer. 

Single-use plastic is a particular area of concern as it can have such a detrimental effect on our environment and, sadly, there are many items which cannot be recycled sustainably. 

The amount of single-use plastics which are discarded every day is quite shocking so we simply must act now.

For the majority of us, plastic has become an integral part of our lives, it is everywhere - but does it really have to be? What other choices do we have and how do we wean ourselves off plastic? 

To help highlight the seriousness of this issue we are supporting Waste Week to raise awareness, and we’re asking everyone to take up the challenge to #PassonPlastic. 

Now I know it is a big ask, but this is important and if we all make an effort then we will go some way to saving our oceans. 

It’s certainly not impossible. If you can recall many were dependent on plastic bags when out shopping. Since the introduction of a 5p charge for bags, it is now common place for people to take a reusable bag out and about with them. It’s heartening to see how we have changed. And if most of us have managed to do this one small step, then further steps to cut down on plastics shouldn’t be so hard.

For example - small plastic bottles containing juice or water – do we really need to buy them? Can we make up drinks using reusable bottles? It is easier and cheaper – and doesn’t take too long to do either.

Looking round the supermarkets a lot of plastic is there supposedly to make our lives easier but they have serious consequences for the environment. Many plastics take hundreds of years to break down – so what supposedly saves us 10 mins could be in the environment for over 100 years. 

In West Sussex we’re fortunate enough to be able to recycle lots of different types of plastics at home through our kerbside recycling bins. Recycling is important – but what is even more important is cutting down on waste in the first place.

So please join me and #PassonPlastic, not just on Waste Week but forever. 

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A Taste of West Sussex – celebrating the food of our county

Ten years ago we launched our very own Taste Magazine. The idea was to promote all the wonderful food and drink in West Sussex, this was a positive way to support some small and often rural businesses and I am pleased to say Taste continues today and has a loyal following.

West Sussex was originally a very rural and agricultural area, the benign climate and rich soil means we have some fantastic local produce which we should all be proud of. This is nothing new, the Romans came here and saw the South East as a productive area to grow food and wine and they certainly knew a thing or two!

We at West Sussex County Council are actively promoting the tourist economy through a website which pulls together all the great things to do in the county; Experience West Sussex.

We know there is a real interest in artisan and high quality local food. People like to know the provenance of their food when in a restaurant or at home on a special occasion. Whether it is South Downs Lamb, Selsey Crab or local grown potatoes and asparagus or spinach – it all counts and says much about the area. Added to that the food can be eaten with some highly acclaimed wines and beers as well. A lovely thought when the weather is as cold as it is at the moment!

That was one of the reasons that we held a ‘Meet the Buyer Event’ for our food producers. This was a chance to bring together people who make the food with the people that get it on the shelves of our shops. I have to say it was such an inspiring afternoon meeting and talking to some very dedicated and committed producers. From delicious artisan cheeses - Brighton Blue was very tasty - to pies, chocolates, brownies, chutneys, honey, breads and not forgetting ice cream as well (who could forget ice cream?!) For me it was a first to try sheep’s milk Ice Cream and milk – which was really good. Then there were a range of beers, gins, wines and water as well fruit juices.

For me the afternoon demonstrated how much West Sussex has to offer and the committed food professionals who take such a pride and delight in all that they produce - they are West Sussex food heroes and I hope that the help we give them will ensure they grow and develop to showcase all the great produce here in West Sussex.