‘NOT A DROP IN THE OCEAN’
When BBC’s Blue Planet II highlighted the plastic issue in our seas earlier in the year few, including Sir David Attenborough himself, could have predicted its impact on individual behaviour.
In Felixstowe, over just a few months, 1200 people joined a new group called Plastic-Free Felixstowe allowing members to share ideas and initiatives to reduce plastic waste in their lives. Through the campaign called ‘Not a drop in the ocean’, the group have been determined to try and make a difference across the town. Now with Community Interest Company (CIC) status, Plastic-Free Felixstowe has been announced as a finalist in the national Groundworks Community Awards 2018.
Everyone is aware of the impact of plastics in the sea, so the focus is on galvanising people to take action whilst inspiring the next generation to make changes. Working with shops and businesses in the town, there has been a growing response with companies switching to paper bags straws and wooden cutlery whilst promoting reusable carrier bags across Felixstowe.
In August, Plastic-Free Felixstowe organised their first Awareness Day for school-children who were invited by postcard to greet ‘Summer Santa’ who had arrived by water on his summer holidays to talk about plastic and litter. Dressed appropriately in Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip-flops, Father Christmas delighted the young people with his knowledge of the environment and he engaged with them on the Pier before litter-picking on Felixstowe beach.
The feedback after the event was very encouraging. One mother posted on Facebook ‘Father Christmas inspired my 5 year old to pick up any litter she spotted on the walk home’ whilst a regular visitor to the town said ‘we come to Felixstowe several times a year and the kids were made up that Father Christmas chose to holiday in the same place as us. We did a beach clean together yesterday evening’. It was exactly the response the organisers were seeking and visits to schools and scout-groups have followed.
The group are now keen to take further positive action and are launching an ambitious plan called ‘Litter-Free Felixstowe’. Debbie Bartlett explains the new initiative ‘We have been delighted with the success of Plastic-Free Felixstowe but we are aware that people want to do much more to ensure that plastic doesn’t end up in the sea’.
‘We will be including beach areas, woods and grass verges, river banks and parks in our campaign’ said Debbie. ‘We want Felixstowe to be the UK’s first litter-free town’. To achieve this, large numbers of volunteers are needed. It is also hoped that companies will add their weight to ‘Litter-Free Felixstowe’. The Group wants to encourage businesses, whether large or small, to pledge at least one day per annum to involve their staff in a litter-pick as well as looking at their use of plastics, eliminating single-use and recycling effectively’.
The launch of Litter-Free Felixstowe took place on 18th November starting at Brackenbury Green in Old Felixstowe. The organisers were encouraged by the number of volunteers who turned up to litter-pick on a crisp Sunday morning. Over 70 people collected nearly 35 kilos of rubbish from the beach and surrounding areas. Residents of all ages worked together to gather the litter and it was clearly a fun event which created a lot of interest in further litter-picks across the town.
Anyone wanting to sponsor activities or pledge support should get in touch via the group’s Facebook page or website. As Debbie concludes ‘We hope people will want to get involved – this is a local response to the global crisis in our oceans’.
FB: Litter-free Felixstowe
FB: Plastic-free Felixstowe
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