What does it take to create lasting sustainable change? More than 80 organisations dived into this question at our #OneLess leaders’ summit on Thursday 21 November, during an inspiring day full of practical insights, advice, and networking.
The summit took place a stone’s throw from the River Thames, at the iconic Museum of London Docklands in Canary Wharf. It was the biggest #OneLess event to date, bringing together the 80+ #OneLess pioneer network members who are at the forefront of action in London to tackle ocean plastic.
The event opened with an inspirational keynote speech from Dr Heather Koldewey, National Geographic Fellow and Senior Technical adviser at ZSL, who set the scene by speaking about the immense global flow of plastic into our ocean and sharing insights from her ongoing National Geographic expedition in India. While the global plastic pollution crisis is tragic, Dr. Koldewey also optimistically reminded us that plastic pollution is “an environmental crisis that is urgent, global, visible, harmful but most importantly – solvable”. This message was also reflected in a #OneLess case study exhibition showcasing the actions taken by ten diverse #OneLess pioneer network members, all seeking to reduce their plastic use, for the sake of the ocean.
The stage was then set for a series of participatory, inspiring and practical sessions, which provided the audience with an unique opportunity to hear from the #OneLess pioneer network members about the innovative action they’ve taken to reduce bottled water in London and encourage refilling and reusing. (Collectively, organisations in the #OneLess pioneer network alone have removed over 3 million single-use plastic water bottles a year from points of sale, offices, and events.) These sessions were an unmissable opportunity for the audience to gain practical tips and advice on how they could make a similar transition away from plastic bottled water within their own organisation.
- The Greater London Authority, Shaftesbury PLC, Pret a Manger and University of Liverpool discussed how London’s drinking water infrastructure is changing with the advent of more sustainable alternatives, focused on refilling and reusing, including public drinking fountains and fill-up points in shops and cafes;
- Selfridges, LSE and Canary Wharf Group shared insights on how to successfully engage stakeholders to reduce single-use plastic, including a healthy dose of persistence, clear messaging, and valuing the power of individuals to create change;
- Natural History Museum, ZSL London Zoo, the FCO and Royal Lancaster London Hotel discussed their achievements and learnings in eliminating single-use plastic across catering outlets, through trialling new business models and engaging staff;.
- Lord’s Cricket Ground, Arsenal and Tideway shared the challenges they had overcome to eliminate single-use plastic at events, through innovative approaches such as portable water dispensers, reusable cup systems and drinking fountains.
Networking was another principal focus for the day and attendees were able to participate in a high-paced, facilitated introduction process, which – drawing on principles from speed dating – was specially designed to help attendees connect with the right people and maximise opportunities for seeding collaborations and sharing best practice. Feedback from attendees rated networking as a highly valuable part of the day.
The last session of the day was designed to help attendees overcome barriers, problem-solve and discuss topics that were important to them. Six topics were put forward by members of the audience, covering policy, finance, viability of alternatives, city-wide interventions and involving senior leadership. Group tables then had an opportunity to discuss and problem solve together, utilising the expertise of attendees in the room.
To date, London’s plastic bottle footprint is 3 million bottles lighter, thanks to the efforts of the #OneLess pioneer network. But the network’s ambition can’t stop here. More still needs to be done.
2020 is a pivotal year of action for the ocean, with international targets for biodiversity, conservation and sustainable development being reviewed and renewed across the world. There is an unparalleled opportunity for London to accelerate a transition away from plastic bottled water, build the motivation for wider, bolder action to encourage refilling, and firmly establish London as a world leader in combatting the ocean plastic crisis.
Join this exciting network of businesses, organisations and areas which are disrupting the way Londoners drink water, with innovations and pioneering activity for the sake of the ocean.
“Great to hear progress, challenges and really network!”Event feedback from participant
“Activities were engaging (for a newcomer which is me) and enabled information and meaningful discussion”Event feedback from participant
“Great learnings from diverse groups that are making changes and overcoming obstacles to stop plastic use”Event feedback from participant