Tackling plastic waste is a tough job – especially when it comes to big events. But as the people of Penzance welcomed the Tour of Britain to town, were there signs that things are changing?

Just a few weeks ago, more than a hundred cyclists zoomed through PZ’s streets in a nail-biting first stage of the competition, which saw cyclists riding 180km through Cornish countryside, from Penzance to Bodmin (and a myriad of other towns along the way).

Unsurprisingly, thousands of people headed to town to mark the beginning of the nationally-renowned event. And, after 18 months of restrictions and a total shut down on large celebrations, it’s safe to say the atmosphere was buzzing!

Even as festivities kicked off for the Grand Depart on that mizzly Sunday morning, it was smiles all round and a feeling of excitement to be back in the thick of it all once more. From the cycling enthusiasts to the families tagging along for the ride, this was no doubt a historic moment for PZ.

But, as with all events, there always comes a certain degree of rubbish. In all honesty, it’s almost expected at this point. That’s why we always like to be prepared; in this case, with the volunteer crew from our Plastic Free Penzance project who were on hand to snatch up the litter before it could cause irreparable damage.

A pleasant surprise

However, what they found was a pleasant surprise… there wasn’t as much waste as expected. In fact, they quickly noted that all riders were carrying refillable water bottles and the traders running the market stalls had put the effort in to reduce the amount of plastic being given out. The town’s Plastic Free Charter, which was sent out in advance to local and national organisers, had been embraced.

We were absolutely thrilled to see the charter in action,  it demonstrates that being a Plastic Free Community, almost four years down the line, has become embedded in our culture. That volunteers picked up so much less than expected is an absolute win for Penzance and shows that hosting big events doesn’t have to mean big amounts of waste. Penzance is helping lead the way when it comes to sustainability and it’s not being confined to our own households.

However, while things are certainly on the up, it doesn’t necessarily mean the job is done. Cigarette butts, which are made of non-biodegradable plastic, were the top find on the clean at the Tour of Britain and can still be incredibly harmful to wildlife. Now Sustainable PZ will be counting up how many butts it finds on its street and beach cleans through Plastic Free PZ,  to call for special butt bins.

Taking it further

We still have a long way to go, but the good news is that we can all help. If you’re planning on heading to a big event in town there are ways to reduce your eco-impact, in fact, we’ve created a little guide right here for you. It’s got tips for everything from getting here to what to bring with you, so you can make sure you’re putting the planet and people at the top of your list.

And event organisers? Look out for our event toolkit coming soon, to help you support our ambitions to becoming a truly sustainable community.

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