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We are working with businesses in the town to help them achieve a “plastic-free champion” status as defined by the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community initiative. To achieve this award, businesses must conduct an audit of their single-use plastic, and make a plan to eliminate as much as they can. Businesses must identify and replace at least three types of single-use plastic to achieve their award, and commit to continue reducing its usage.

If your business would like to learn more about how to get accredited as a Plastic Free Champion, please email

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Congratulations to Calnan Brothers for becoming the first business in Watlington to achieve “Plastic Free” Certification from the organisation “Surfers Against Sewage”. To achieve this Calnan’s have made several changes including: 

  • Wax coated paper bags instead of plastic for most items 

  • Paper carrier bags instead of plastic carrier bags 

  • Strong cardboard boxes for turkeys 

“We did this because we think it is the right thing to do for the environment”, owner Tom Calnan said. “It’s just the start. I would encourage any business thinking of applying for Plastic Free accreditation to just go for it”. 

Tom also noted that supermarkets use a lot of pre-packaged produce, so just by shopping in local independent shops can help cut down the amount of packaging. And, as you can buy the exact amount you need, this also helps with reducing food waste.  

Calnan’s are looking at alternatives for their remaining single-use plastic packaging, and you can also bring your own containers to reduce waste even further.

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The Undercroft has reduced single use plastic by returning customers strawberry punnets to the supplier, changing the string on the asparagus, and using paper instead of plastic bags. Almost all the vegetables are refreshingly free of the plastic that can cover so much of supermarket produce, and Angela uses locally sourced produce where possible which also avoids most plastic packaging.

The Italian Handbag Company


The Italian Handbag Company has never used any single-use plastic, as owner Catherine Johnson decided to use reusable materials right from the beginning. Price tags are tied on with ribbon, and products are gift wrapped in tissue paper, with larger handbags protected with a cloth bag. “Single-use plastic is literally clogging up the world. The injury rate to animals, not just marine life, is enormous”, Catherine explained.

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Nicola stocks a wide range of beautiful ethical and hand made products. Most products are either not wrapped in plastic or are wrapped in plant-based alternatives, for example, all hampers and candles. Nicola explained that the locally sourced hand made products she sells tend to be environmentally conscious in terms of the packaging materials used compared to mass-market products. House of Bluebell is an example of a supplier which is very environmentally conscious in terms of packaging, and many others are also moving to or already using environmentally friendly options.

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The So Sustainable refill shop was set up in order to help Watlington go plastic-free, so it’s not surprising that no changes were needed for Stephanie Van de Pette to achieve the Plastic Free Champion Award. “Single-use plastics is such an issue because it is getting into our environment,” said Steph. “It’s in our food system, and it’s breaking down into harmful microplastics. Research published last year showed that we eat a credit card’s worth of plastic a week”. Steph’s shop enables customers to fill up their own containers from an extensive range of groceries, beauty, and cleaning products.



Tutu Delicious made the following changes to their business to qualify for this award: 1. All single use "shelf" products are now in home compostable cellulose-based packaging. This includes chocolate covered coffee beans and "chocolate shards" 2. Items with more moisture are now in boxes made of dried coconut shell . This includes florentines, stem ginger, and covered orange slices. Labels are on recycled paper 3. Truffle boxes used to have a plastic insert, but this is now a recycled paper insert. Liza said: "We worked really hard to achieve this. Suppliers haven't geared up so it has been an up hill battle but we are proud of what we have done and we will continue until we have done as much as we can from a sustainability point of view. It has made us look at everything in a different way - it has helped at home as well."

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Jazzman Records Ltd. Jazzman Records is an online music retailer and record label run by Gerald Short. Gerald achieved this award by 

  • Stopping using shrink wrap on Jazzman LPs   

  • Switching from plastic brown tape to paper brown tape in packaging 

  • In terms of the rest of the packaging for sending out products to customers, Gerald only buys in cardboard packaging and reuses any incoming packaging such as bubble wrap or noodles, so no plastic packaging is ever bought. 

Gerald lives in Watlington and has an office and warehouse in Henley. He said, “It’s become the norm to shrink-wrap everything, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Removing shrink wrap is not only good for the environment, but it also reduces cost too. We haven’t had any problems as a result of removing shrink wrap from our LPs and I think our customers approve of this too.” Jazzman Records sells and reissues old soul, funk, jazz, and disco, as well as oddball and new music, and accessories for music lovers such as record boxes.



We are still getting local businesses to be “Plastic Free Champions”, the latest being The Orange Bakery who use paper bags for their products and also sell cloth bread bags to enable their customers to re-use rather than using single-use plastic. They also encourage their customers to bring reusable mugs for their soup.

Al Tait explained, “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do - it is built into the fabric of how we work. We source our ingredients locally as much as we can, and going plastic-free is an important part of that bigger picture. We are delighted to be part of the club of Watlington businesses that have joined this scheme”

Plastic Free Champions: Meet the Team
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