ENVIRONMENTALLY conscious residents and businesses have helped their town become the first 'plastic-free' community in Oxfordshire.

Anne Smart and Caroline Townsend started the Abingdon Cuts Plastic campaign last year due to growing concern about the damage caused by plastic pollution, particularly to the marine environment and wildlife.

Their efforts, which are a part of environmental group Abingdon Carbon Cutters, have now seen the town become the 65th community to be awarded Plastic Free status by national conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

The pair have worked with organisations and businesses in Abingdon to put a plan in place to reduce single-use plastic.

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This includes an education programme for schools, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

Ms Smart said: “Our town council officially supports our initiatives, and many sectors of the community are doing their best to reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use.

Oxford Mail:

"Our MP, Layla Moran, is actively supporting our efforts to reduce the amount of plastic packaging used by local supermarkets.”

Eight schools have joined the campaign so far, with Abingdon Cuts Plastics giving assemblies on how pupils and staff can reduce their use of plastic.

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A dozen businesses, meanwhile, have signed up as Plastic-Free Champions, meaning that they have given up using, or replaced, at least three single-use plastic items such as straws, bottles, bags and other packaging. Many cafes in the town also give a price reduction when customers bring their own reusable mug, and offer to fill up water bottles under the ReFill scheme.

Oxford Mail:

Added Ingredients also sells SESI liquid detergents to customers who bring their own reusable containers. In October and April, Abingdon Cuts Plastic teamed up with Kingfisher Canoe Club and the litter-picking group AbiBinit, to hold two big river and riverbank clean-ups.

Ms Townsend said: “We are thrilled to be awarded Plastic-Free Community status. Of course this doesn’t mean that the town is completely plastic-free, but it is an important step on our ongoing journey.”