A STEERING group in Caversham has been set up as part of a national initiative to free our communities from non essential single use plastics.

Plastic Free Caversham met for the first time last week (September 11) and was set up with help from councillor Ayo Sokale, who chaired the meeting, and local Anne-Marie Evans.

READ MORE: Plastic Free Caversham group set up to reduce single-use plastics.

The team will be taking part in the initiative 'Plastic Free Communities' run by the National Marine Conservation Group, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

Members were local people, many of which were parents hoping to mould a better future for their children, and businesses who are already actively helping the community be more sustainable.

The idea is to free our communities from non essential single use plastics.

Mrs Evans explained: "It is not about eliminating all plastic from our lives but about ending our addiction to non essential single use plastics such as carrier bags, cups, straws, bottles etc.

"The obsession with non essential plastics is causing so much harm to the environment and wild life; the seas, rivers and coastlines are choking with plastic.

"Some of the world's few remaining non-industrialised nature reserves like Bali and other areas of South east Asia are drowning in the West's waste as so much of our plastic is sent there for processing.

"These places are unable to cope with the sheer volume of waste and much of it ends up in rivers and seas."

Mrs Evans helped to set up the group alongside Cllr Sokale.

She said: "I initially wrote to Reading Council to inquire about sustainability initiatives planned for Caversham and to secure support for my proposals to make Caversham more sustainable.

"I joined forces with Councillor Ayo Sokale at Reading Council who was already committed to a plastic reduction campaign for the whole of Reading."

The first meeting discussed volunteer actions and put in place the SAS five point plan whose objectives include signing up local businesses as allies, engaging community groups such as schools and commitment from the council.

Mrs Evans explained to achieve plastic free status, a business/retailer is required to identify and remove three items of single use plastic that can be replaced by a suitable sustainable alternative.

She said: "Making sustainable alternatives available to customers will bring about a change and reduce the amount of throwaway plastic in our society.

"Businesses show their support for the campaign by displaying the attached window stickers and signs and spread the word on their social media handles and websites.

"Those who meet all the SAS requirements are given plastic free champion status."

In order for the whole of Caversham to qualify for plastic free status, around 12 businesses in the area need to get on board with this campaign and at least half of Caversham's schools and community centres.

Group members are encouraging people to join their team with Cllr Sokale believing the more the merrier.