Churchill Square ditches plastic and hands out free tote bags for World Environment Day

75kg of rubbish collected from the Churchill Square and Sea Life Centre beach clean was used to create a fish sculpture.
75kg of rubbish collected from the Churchill Square and Sea Life Centre beach clean was used to create a fish sculpture.

A Brighton shopping centre is removing plastic bags from its retailers in a bid to highlight the amount of plastic people use.

Churchill Square will be providing every customer with a free, reusable tote bag as part of its ‘Break the Bag Habit’ campaign, which will enable visitors to return to the shopping centre without the need to use a plastic bag.

With the exception of its food outlets, more than 70 of the centre’s retailers will be buying into the tote bag takeover, with 25,000 jute bags made from 100 per cent biodegradable and recyclable material available on World Environment Day.

Break the Bag Habit is part of Churchill Square’s wider environmental campaign, which has been raising awareness about green issues over the last few weeks. The centre will also be highlighting its stores' many Earth-friendly products, collections and sustainable initiatives.

Mark Buchanan-Smith, centre director a Churchill Square, explains that although the bags are to be given out on one day, it forms part of its longer-term commitment to the cause.

He said: “Sustainability is high on the agenda for us and other retail sectors, whether it be fashion, food or otherwise and we need to continue demonstrating how we, as a collective, can make changes and slow down the detrimental effects of plastic.

“The public is more informed about the amount of plastic being consumed, sent to landfill and endangering the environment and wildlife than ever before, so businesses like ours need to be leading the way for change with eco-friendly solutions to sustainability concerns. However, there's no quick-fix answer and it will take time.

“What shoppers may not be aware of is our retailers' efforts in being more thoughtful towards the planet. For instance, Hollister sells jeans made from recycled plastic and Clarks has partnered with National Geographic for a children's shoe created from the same materials. Lots of stores including H&M, The Entertainer, Schuh Kids, Vodafone, WHSmith, O2 and Three offer recycling services for old clothes, footwear, electricals and batteries, too.

“Churchill Square's goal for World Environment Day is to keep the conversation going by doing our bit while helping others along the way.

“We occupy a small corner of the world here in Brighton but especially with the sea on our doorstep, we must all work together to protect it and our natural surroundings."

Beach clean

Earlier last month, Churchill Square joined forces with the Sea Life Centre for a three-day beach clean, which saw in more than 100 members of the public – including families, couples and teenagers - plus, 70 people from the shopping centre rolling up their sleeves to spruce up Brighton beach.

The event was a huge success with 75kg of harmful litter removed from the shores, which the centre team has since turned into a through-provoking installation. A fish-shaped structure has been created from plastic bottles, aluminium cans, old clothing, bin bags, helium balloons as well more unusual items collected such as crutches, gold clubs and fabric netting.

The sculpture was unveiled at the weekend, which visitors can view on the lower mall until it wraps up on Sunday, June 9.

Mr Buchanan-Smith said: “We are so pleased that our appeal for help with the beach clean resonated deeply throughout the community, and we will look forward to hosting similar activities in the future.

“Shifting mindsets so that people get on board with the fact that one small change by each individual really does have a huge impact will ultimately help start to reverse some of the negative effects plastic is having.

“We will continue to shout about it until our work is done and hope many will make a conscious effort in the first instance to break the bag habit.”

Visitors to Churchill Square on Wednesday, 5 June will be able to receive a free, tote bag from the shopping centre's retailers free of charge in support of World Environment Day; 25,000 will be available on a first come, first-served basis, with bag limited to one per person.