British campaigners offer a realistic alternative to single-use plastic

Sarah and Steph with representatives from Urbaser and Manilva councillor Dean Shelton.
Sarah and Steph with representatives from Urbaser and Manilva councillor Dean Shelton. / Gary Beaumont
  • Ecopassion, an environmental initiative and online shop, advises local residents on how they can reduce their everyday use of plastic

While Spain's #DesnudaLaFruta campaign has taken off on a global scale, two British residents on the Costa del Sol have been working to help locals find practical ways to reduce their use of plastic. Neighbours Sarah and Steph from Casares Costa were walking their dogs together discussing environmental issues when they had their "light bulb" moment and decided to start Ecopassion, an online shop and waste-reduction campaign that was officially launched in March of this year, aided by the women's background in marketing.

Already, their mission has gained traction. In April, they visited the local water board (Acosol) and in May the recycling plant for Costa del Sol West (Urbaser) in order to fact-find, and say they were met with very a very positive response.

"We really wanted to dispel the myth that all rubbish is put into one bin and landfilled," Sarah told SUR in English.

As a result of their campaigning efforts, Ecopassion has managed to get five local bars to switch from plastic straws - the disposal of which is seriously threatening to marine life - to paper ones.

As well as offering helpful advice through social media, Ecopassion sells a wide selection of recyclable, reusable or biodegradable alternatives to everyday household items, for example drinking straws, cleaning materials, shopping bags, toothbrushes and shampoo bars wrapped in paper, and, for the current Plastic Free July campaign, the shop is offering a variety of discounts.

The team, headed by Sarah and Steph, also organise events: their first beach clean takes place this month on the western Costa del Sol area up to the border of Cadiz province.

Sarah admits that, among her new plastic-free lifestyle habits, some have been easier to implement than others: "I can't remember the last time I bought a plastic water bottle or used a plastic bag, and all my family now happily use a bamboo toothbrush, but it took a while to adjust to the shampoos, so we tried a few different ones before settling on the ones we use now."

One of the Ecopassion founders' biggest challenges was making the extra effort to shop in different places according to which products have the least plastic. Sarah recommends making a fridge chart to speed up the process.

With more and more people getting involved, the business is going from strength to strength. "We haven't met with very much resistance at all," said Sarah.

"What is really inspiring," she added, "is meeting people and hearing what lengths they have gone to to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Sometimes the people you would least expect to make changes have done so."