Attenborough-inspired anti-plastic campaign sees Sheffield's milkmen working once more

Operations manager Damon Ingamells, of Hillsborough Dairy.
Operations manager Damon Ingamells, of Hillsborough Dairy.

The milkman is back - and we have David Attenborough to thank for it.

Inspired by Blue Planet II, people in Sheffield are taking doorstep deliveries of milk and other dairy products in numbers not seen for years.

Operations manager Damon Ingamells, of Hillsborough Dairy.

Operations manager Damon Ingamells, of Hillsborough Dairy.

Hillsborough Dairy are attracting new customers at a faster rate than they are losing them for the first time in decades - and currently deliver to 5,000 addresses all across the region.

And managers at the Leppings Lane business put the increase squarely at the door of Blue Planet II and the acres of press coverage it has generated on the issue of plastic pollution.

Operations manager, Damon Ingamells, said that they had witnessed a ‘resurgence’ in people wanting their milk in glass bottles rather than plastic - and put the increase down to the BBC’s rapturously received nature documentary.

“From getting two or three new inquiries a week before Christmas we are now seeing 10 to 20,” he said.

Megan McGrath, development officer at the University of Sheffield Students' Union.

Megan McGrath, development officer at the University of Sheffield Students' Union.

“Radio Sheffield have been out with one of our delivery drivers this morning and people were stopping him in the street inquiring about how to get a regular delivery.

“People are saying that they didn’t know we were still here.”

Damon admitted that the industry has seen a huge drop off since its heyday of the 70s and 80s.

Since then they have been operating on about a 12 per cent decrease in trade every year - as traditional delivery customers are replaced by supermarket shoppers.

The plastic free sections of the Student' Union shop.

The plastic free sections of the Student' Union shop.

But this slide has suddenly been arrested thanks to Blue Planet II.

“There has been a big decline but we never went away,” said Damon.

“After the David Attenborough programme there was lots of coverage of businesses like ours in the press.

“We’re now seeing new people coming on board all the time - many of them finding out about us via the website and our Facebook page.”

Fran Elliott (front right), event organise, pictured with Susan Tavernor, of Heeley's Litter Pickers and some of the volunteers who took part in the event.

Fran Elliott (front right), event organise, pictured with Susan Tavernor, of Heeley's Litter Pickers and some of the volunteers who took part in the event.

However, anyone hoping to see the classic milk float cruising on the streets of the Steel City again will be disappointed

“The rounds are so stretched out now that we have to use diesel vehicles,” explains Damon.

“But our delivery drivers and franchise holders can cover pretty much any address across the whole of South Yorkshire.

“As well as not using plastic, people just like the convenience of it.”

The surprise news comes as people across the region respond to the issue of plastic pollution in dozens of different ways.

Megan McGrath, a union officer at the University of Sheffield, is currently leading a campaign to get students to boycott single-use plastics.

John Lamb, pictured with his wife Sue and daughter Alice, during the Let's De-Plastic litter picking event in Heeley Woods.

John Lamb, pictured with his wife Sue and daughter Alice, during the Let's De-Plastic litter picking event in Heeley Woods.

She has set up an ‘eco’ section of the Student Union shop and offers advice on how to live a plastic-free life on the Sheffield Students blog.

These include replacing plastic straws with stainless steel ones, shaving with non-disposable razors and opting for a bamboo toothbrush.

"I have always considered myself an environmentalist," she said.

"But after seeing something on Facebook about single use plastics I took a look in my fridge and realised I was a bit of a hypocrite.

"Since then I have actively tried to cut out as much plastic as I could."

As well as the plastic-free section of the University Students’ Union shop, Megan has also just set up a ‘zero-waste’ whole-food section where people can fill their own containers with staples like pasta, rice, chickpeas and lentils.

The shop - which is in the University’s Students’ Union building just off Glossop Road - is open to all.

And just last Sunday, an army of litter pickers volunteered to ‘de-plastic’ Heeley woods.

Local teacher Fran Elliott who organised the event said she too was inspired to act by the by the popular BBC show.

She said: “Like a lot of people, I watched Blue Planet II and was left shocked at the effect plastic and other waste was having on our planet.

“The woods contain vast amounts of plastic litter which will impact the wildlife.

“The waterways could also carry this plastic out of the woods and potentially into the ocean.”

After Fran and her team had nearly 100 bags of plastic and other waste from the woods on Sunday, people took to social media to say how ‘amazing’ it looked and to thank the litter pickers for their hard work.

If you have ideas on reducing plastic waste or keeping Sheffield tidy, email sheffieldtelegraph@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk.