A Chamber of Commerce, campaigners, charities and curry houses have joined forces to tackle climate change.

Curry and Conversation is a series of sessions looking at environmental issues and steps to make changes.

The workshops are led by Naseem Talukdar of Plastic Pollution Awareness & Actions Projects (PPAAP), which aims to end single-use plastic.

Naseem Talukdar
Naseem Talukdar of UK Curry Connect and Plastic Pollution Awareness & Action Projects (PPAAP)

Naseem, who is also director for social responsibility and sustainability for UK Curry Connect (UKCC) campaign group, said: “We want to rally people round, from a range of fields to tackle this pressing problem and find a long-term solution.”

The free events at The Optima Stadium in Weston, which include curry and refreshments, are hosted by the Weston Chamber of Commerce and open to all residents and businesses in North Somerset.

Debbie Apted, community lead for Cleaner Coastlines: Weston and North Somerset plastic-free campaign, which was launched by the Chamber and Weston Mercury in October 2017, said: “We’ve been working hard to reduce single-use plastic within the community.

“It’s vital we raise awareness of climate change and the steps we can take to make a difference for future generations.”

Curry and Conversation
Curry and Conversation workshops to tackle climate change

The first meeting kicked off by looking at the damage plastic has on marine life and humans. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched the Clean Seas Campaign to turn the tide on plastic.

It reports at least 11 tonnes of plastic is dumped into our seas each year – which can lead to starvation or suffocation of sea life.

In turn, humans may be at risk, such as through eating seafood or skin penetration, with hormonal changes, reproductive abnormalities and cancer.

Michelle Cassar, a founding member of City to Sea – set up to stop plastic pollution at source, supports people struggling with environmental anxiety.

The surfer, author and photographer said: “Plastic pollution and climate change are intertwined and we need to act.

“Pressure needs to continue by individuals and grassroots organisations – only then will action happen from the top.”

Scientists are urging politicians to tackle climate change and the plastic waste crisis together as they are interlinked – leading to issues such as extreme weather and spread of microplastics.

Research from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Bangor University found plastic pollution and climate change can exacerbate each other.

Michelle added: “Plastic not only affects marine life but likely harms human health as well – from ingesting microplastics to the release of toxic gases when it is burnt.”

Recycling – making money and reducing landfill

The group looked at how recycling can earn money from use of the materials, while cutting down on disposal costs and trips to landfill.

Landfills release greenhouse gases and rubbish can break down at a very slow rate, which remains a problem for future generations.

Weston Hospicecare gets over £1 million pound of its revenue from recycling – with people’s donated goods.

The charity has also introduced a scheme where people can recycle their ink cartridges and hundreds have already been dropped off

Mark Flower, director of fundraising and communications, said: “Recycling brings in money for the charity and also helps to reduce waste which would otherwise go to landfill.”

Environmental societies

Carl Gibbon, who is studying biological sciences at the University Centre Weston, attended Curry and Conversation to get further insight into various environmental issues.

He said: “We’re looking at setting up an environmental society and it’s been helpful to get an insight into the issues we are facing and various options.

“It’s important to look at ways to reduce plastic and create a more sustainable way of living.”

Funding and future events

Weston Chamber received grant funding from the Quartet Community Foundation, Megawatt Community Energy Fund, which supports community action on reducing carbon in our atmosphere and making energy more affordable.

Future sessions will cover fast fashion and the circular economy, clean energy and green tech, as well as carbon footprint and transport.

There are 40 free spaces available at each workshop and booking is essential. For full details and how to register visit Cleaner Coastlines Events or call Debbie on 07974 190660.