New Plastic Free West Hampstead campaign gathers support of local businesses

Plastic Free West Hampstead's logo. Picture: Melanie Viner-Cuneo

Plastic Free West Hampstead's logo. Picture: Melanie Viner-Cuneo - Credit: Archant

Like many others, Melanie Viner-Cuneo watched David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 and cringed at the amount of plastic waste that was polluting the planet’s oceans.

Melanie used the show as inspiration though, and is now working hard to make West Hampstead one of the first areas of London to be certified as plastic free.

To be declared plastic free, an area has to meet certain criteria set by charity Surfers Against Sewage, who manage the scheme. These include having the support of the local authority in reducing plastic waste, convincing at least 12 local companies to stop using 3 single-use plastic items and working with schools and community groups to draw attention to the issue.

Melanie told the Ham&High: “I’ve always been aware of plastic and how problematic it can be.

“I’ve been trying to find a way of campaigning more widely about this in our area, and the Surfers Against Sewage initiative is a great one.”

One of the first local businesses to sign up to Melanie’s campaign was the Black Lion pub in West Hampstead, where plastic straw use is minimised, condiment sachets are banned, and they even use recycled paper to take food orders.

Paul Coutts, a supervisor at the pub, explained: “It’s something that we care about.

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“For the most part people have been supportive. They don’t seem to notice the difference.

“You do get the odd customer who is set on using a straw with their drink though, so we try to be understanding!”

Other businesses behind the scheme include The Season Cookshop and The Alice House and Gallery, both on West End Lane.

Melanie added that once West Hampstead is plastic free, she’d like to see the campagign go further. She explained: “We want to make Hampstead plastic free, and then why not Camden? It’d be great to be the first plastic free borough in London...”

Matilda Glatman, 6, who made headlines with a poster pleading for plastic waste to be reduced is also supporting the campaign, which will have a stall at the Fortune Green Jester Festival, which takes place on Saturday, July 7, and Sunday, July 8.