Seaford has joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way to tackle throw away plastic at source. The town has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.
Local resident Claire Sumners started the campaign in March 2018 after running beach cleans. Claire saw that the community were interested in how to clean up their local beach and how they could learn to stop using and buying single use plastic and disposables.
Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Claire pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan. The objectives include; setting up a community led steering group, instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.
“The campaign grew to a stage where I felt I needed help to run it and lucky for me I have the help of Fran Chorlton and Caroline Bond to continue enthusing and advising our community to make a commitment to change. Seaford is listening to us and we have a reputation now of being the plastic free ladies! ”
“Seaford is full of independent shops and they have been instrumental in getting our message heard.
One shop, Scoop and Weigh has extended their range of bulk foods to buy loose in your own containers. The owner listened to what we wanted to see and put it in place. I am thrilled at this because it encourages residents to shop differently, for the planet.
Locally too, all of the Schools took part in a ‘Plastic Free Week’ in May 2019. This was important to us because we wanted to help schools get the message to students that single use plastic needs to be given the boot. Subsequently we have had a massive increase in young children and their families attending beach cleans.
I have been asked to speak at various clubs including Seaford Martello Rotary and they have since bought Green Goblets to use at events instead of single use plastic cups. Most recently, thanks to Town Council support, and my co-leads, we had a stall at Seaford Christmas Magic where spoke to and have advice to the community on how to have a waste free Christmas.
I have always wanted the campaign to be a collaboration between other organisations who are helping the planet and I have built up relationships with Sussex Wildlife Trust where we talk about how to best look after our coastline and countryside.
Whilst I know a community will never be totally single use plastic free, I hope this campaign evokes change in peoples attitude towards convenience and single use. It has been a labour of love at times as it does take time, effort and multitasking to make ourselves heard but as we start a new decade, I know it has all been totally worth it.”
The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to free the places where we live from single-use. Using the five point plan the aim is to empower communities to kick start local grassroots action, which can then be built upon.
The marine conservation charity, based in St Agnes in Cornwall, says it wants to unite communities to tackle avoidable plastic from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it. It says it is not about removing all plastic from our lives, but kicking our addiction to throwaway plastic and changing the system that produces it.
Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said: “It’s great to see the work that Seaford has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.
We have over six hundred communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment. Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit and system changes we need to see.”
Claire Sumners, Community Lead, Plastic Free Seaford, tel: 07734 617 296 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Plastic Free Communities: www.plasticfree.org.uk
Surfers Against Sewage: www.sas.org.uk