City to Sea 'Switch the Stick' a Success!

by Stephanie lynch on 02.01.18

City to Sea is a UK based organisation founded by environmental campaigner Natalie Fee in 2015 after seeing the shocking amount of plastic in the river Avon. Natalie decided to make plastic pollution personal by addressing what people are flushing down the toilet. This may sound like an odd way to address the problem but it has been recorded that 70% of plastic found on beaches has been flushed down the toilet! ‘How can this be happening’ I hear you ponder, well it turns out that sewage filtration systems often don’t catch small plastic items like cotton buds and so they end up in oceans and waterways.


Natalie recently spoke at TEDx Bristol about the success of the Switch the Stick campaign and in less than a month it has been viewed over 3000 times. The Switch the Stick campaign received 167,000 signatures for supermarkets to stop selling plastic cotton buds to paper based ones. The petition worked as many leading supermarkets have now agreed to make the switch. Change really is happening but there is so much more that needs to be done to win the war on plastic pollution. Want to feel inspired? Watch Natalie in actions in the video below.



Here in Manchester, we may dream of warm, sandy beaches as we stand in the rain waiting for our tram, but how we may be polluting them is probably not something that crosses our minds. Yet plastic pollution is closer to home than we may think. The river Irwell, a site of biological importance and once named ‘The Dirtiest River in the Country’ has been no stranger to rubbish. This iconic river which divides Manchester and Salford has been the home to a number of butterflies and birds but since the Boxing Day flood in 2015, it’s banks have been strewed with plastics which will take years to come to remove. This was a devastating blow to the river that has seen local action to clean it over the recent years. Nature in Salford’s Dr Luke Blazejewski's film portrays the beauty of this river in his film ‘Stories of the River Irwell’ which you can view below.



Manchester is striving to be a clean and healthy city for all and waste is just one of the issues that needs to be addressed to make this so. There are many projects and initiatives to make this happening (Grow Green, R4GM, Emerge to name just a small few) but City to Sea has highlighted the part individuals must play. Let’s make 2018 a year we curb the plastic crisis in this city! For more information about plastic pollution and campaigns please visit the City to Sea website here