Whilst glyphosate has been a focus due to the level of media interest it is currently enjoying it is not the only pesticide used in towns and cities. We need all pesticides replaced with safer, non-chemical alternatives
In the last few months, petitions against the use of Glyphosate, one of the toxic chemicals regularly used in our towns and cities, have exploded. At last count, over 120 petitions have been started nationwide (and that is counting from just one online petition group alone).
Across the country a whopping 78,000 people have started to get their ‘clicktavism' on. Great news that people are starting to wake up to this un-needed and excessive use of poisons - great news too that they are getting together to start doing something about it. But to make the change a lasting reality, it is going to take a lot more than just a petition, as all seasoned campaigners know.
For many years PAN UK has been working to stop the use of all pesticides in the towns and cities of the UK. In July 2015 we launched our national Pesticide Free Towns Campaign by creating a Pesticide Free Zone in Brighton. Our campaign wants to see a complete end to the use of all chemical pesticides in towns and cities where we live, work and play. Whilst glyphosate has been a focus due to the level of media interest it is currently enjoying it is not the only pesticide used in towns and cities. Simply switching from glyphosate to another chemical is not a success. We need to see all pesticides replaced with safer, non-chemical alternatives.
At the same time as we launched our campaign in Brighton we also rolled out a national campaign encouraging local people, organisations and groups to start their own campaigns with the idea that we could use our work in Brighton & Hove as a ‘role model' for how to run a successful campaign. We have successfully achieved this with a council decision in March 2016 that will see an end to the use of pesticides in the city from 2017. Hurrah, but how did we do it?
The answer is not simple and there is no magic formula because every town, council and campaign group will be different. However there are some common themes. An integral part of our approach has been encouraging you, local people, groups and organisations to start your own campaigns, and one of the key suggestions we make is to set up local petitions. These are a great way of reaching out to communities and really help to demonstrate popular support for action to councils.
Online petitions are easy to set up and have a wide reach, being easily shared through social media and other digital channels. With our help, local campaigns from Hackney, Cornwall and many other places around the country have all set up their own petitions. Never underestimate the value of a paper petition - in Brighton, for example, using this "old school" method allowed us to go into shops and cafes and actually talk to people about the campaign. It also allows you to be at events where again one to one contact with potential supporters can add a great deal of value to your campaign. This relationship building and community solidarity is a very valuable part of building a strong and successful campaign and we are encouraging people to keep doing it.
Petitions are just the first step on the road to success, however, as much more is needed to effect real change and end the unnecessary use of toxic pesticides in our public spaces. PAN UK has created a range of tools and publications that you can use to develop and win your campaign. They include briefings on pesticide use and impacts, case studies on alternatives, guides on contacting your local council, how to hold community events and free publicity materials amongst many others.
And PAN UK wants to work with you to share our expertise, knowledge and passion to really help you win your campaign. We are available to support you through all stages of the process, including over the phone support and advice, as well as speaking at public meetings when invited. Our experience in Brighton and elsewhere means that we have tried and tested strategies for success.
But of course it is not just about motivating the public and arming them with the materials necessary for their campaigns. PAN UK is also working with councils to help them put pesticide-free commitments into action, and we are always ready to answer questions, provide advice or meet with members of local councils, their contractors and their officers.
In summary, campaigning to get the use of all pesticides stopped by your local council is more than just launching a petition. It requires a joined up approach with the right information for all concerned to be able to effect real, long-lasting change. If you care about this issue, come and join with PAN UK and let's work together to kick the toxic pesticides out of the streets and parks, schools and pavements of the towns and cities of the UK and keep them gone for good.
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