Keep Topsham beautiful!

An anticipation of Nello's Longest Table, Sarah Martin of Nourish, Topsham's zero-waste store, has some tips for keeping our town beautiful.
Exmouth beachfront after a night’s revelries (photo by Martine Strawbridge)

Summer is a time of festivals, picnics and outdoor eating.  Here in Topsham this is taken to another level during the biennial celebration of Nello’s Longest Table. In a true feat of Topsham community spirit, around 350 tables will sit end to end, forming a continuous table spanning the length of Fore Street, around Topsham Quay, and down Ferry Road, past the Underway to the Passage Inn.

It is so easy, as the sunshine warms our winter-sodden brains, to go for the most convenient options: single-use plates, cutlery and glasses, to cut down on the washing up and the bother of taking our waste home with us. Most of us will find a bin, but as seen in Exmouth recently (photo above), a lot of litter doesn’t quite find its way to the appropriate recycling point or litter bin.

Sarah Martin from Nourish, Topsham’s own zero-waste shop, has some suggestions for those of who will be enjoying Nello’s Longest Table. Some of these products are available in the Nourish shop.

  1. Try using stainless steel straws instead of single-use plastic straws.
  2. Use insulated reusable bottles to ensure your beverages stay cold instead of plastic bottles of water or tetra-paks of juice.
  3. Drinking beer? Use a metal pint mug instead of the plastic pint glasses that are always too squidgy anyway.
  4. Use proper plates (remember the old enamelled metal ones from Scout camp?) instead of throwaway plastic or paper plates (paper plates are often coated in plastic, making them difficult to recycle too).
  5. Use beeswax food wrap instead of cling film. Beeswax wrap allows food to breathe so no more sweaty sandwiches.
  6. Buy a reusable coffee cup and take it with you for when you want coffee on the go. Paper cups that are offered in cafés are rarely recyclable.
  7. Use cotton produce bags for fruit and vegetables instead of plastic bags.

At the end of the day (or night), we all know that it is impossible at event like Nello’s Longest Table — and indeed in our everyday lives — to entirely eliminate plastic waste. But can we all please make a pact to try and do a little to make a difference?

On the Nello’s night, please ensure that you take away all your waste and rubbish, disposing it in your own bins at home rather than piling it into bins around town that may already be overflowing.

Make sure and recycle any plastics and paper, and take your bottles to the bottle bank in the Holman Way carpark.

The Topsham community prides itself on keeping our town neat and tidy. After previous Nello’s Longest Table celebrations, the tables have all been carried back to their designated points for collection (with able people helping those who may have difficulty). And, most usually, rubbish is all taken away, so that by around 10pm, the town is almost completely back to normal and it seems as if the revelries were but a midsummer night’s dream. Let’s make sure that this happens again and that we don’t wake up to a nightmare!

Beyond Nello’s Longest Table – waste not, want not

It doesn’t take much for us all, as a community, to begin to make a difference not just over the weekend of the Topsham Food Festival and Nello’s Longest Table but also beyond this, forever as part of our lives. By just choosing to make some small changes to the way we live and shop, we can help to make a big difference.

Here are a just a few suggestions for living with less plastic:

  1. Topsham now has a zero-waste shop, Nourish, and we should all make use of it and support this important initiative. Sarah Martin is passionate about helping us to reduce waste in our lives and in particular to reduce our dependence on single-use plastic. Visit Nourish to purchase loose items such as grains, pasta, nuts, seeds, oils, vinegars, milk and much more. Buying loose, in bulk not only eliminates packaging waste, it is usually cheaper too.
  2. Shop local – supermarkets inevitably wrap everything unnecessarily in plastic. But if you simply go to Richards for your fruit and vegetables, buy your fresh milk from Nourish, your cheese from Country Cheeses, your fish from Derek’s mobile fish van, your meat from Arthurs, or visit the Darts Farm food hall, you will not only get better, fresher food, you will come home with infinitely less plastic-wrapped waste.
  3. When you are out and about shopping local, don’t forget to bring your own cloth shopping bag or bags with you!
  4. Do you enjoy coffee in takeaway cups? Paper takeaway cups are mainly impossible to recycle due to their plastic lining. So please buy a resuable coffee mug and take it with you to Topsham’s many independent cafés – most, including Route 2, the Boathouse, Darts Farm Restaurant or Deli Bar and elsewhere – will offer you a discount if you do this.
  5. It’s important, we know, for us all to stay well-hydrated. Instead of buying water (or other drinks) in plastic throwaway bottles, use your own reusable metal water or drinks bottle instead. Your drink will stay cooler (or hotter) and you will be helping to save the planet.
  6. If you take a packed lunch to work, you’ll not only be saving money by not buying plastic-wrapped sandwiches or ready-meals, you can also cut down on waste by using your own stainless steel or glass food container. Metal thermos flasks are great for having hot meals on the go.
  7. Cut down on recycling. Yes, though this may sound counter-intuitive, we really ought to ask ourselves whether we need to purchase so much packaging, both cardboard and paper, with which we fill up our green recycling bins almost more quickly than they can be emptied. By thinking about reducing even the waste we recycle (again, shopping local is the main way to do this rather than purchasing on-line, whether food or other goods), we can do our best to try and live as zero-waste as we can.

— Marc Millon and Sarah Martin