A group of Seaford residents has been recognised by a marine conservation charity following their action to prevent plastic pollution and reduce single-use plastic.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has awarded the town with ‘Plastic Free Communities’ status as it joins a network of more than 600 communities tackling plastic in the UK.
This recognises efforts by residents to reduce the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.
Claire Sumners started the Plastic Free Seaford campaign in March 2018 after a series of beach cleans, where volunteers pick litter from coastal areas.
She saw a demand for the campaign after realising the community is ‘interested in how to clean up their local beach’ and learning how to ‘stop using and buying single use plastic and disposables’.
So much so, that Claire enlisted the help of fellow residents.
“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,” she said.
“Seaford is listening to us and we have a reputation now of being the plastic free ladies!”
Rachel Yates, Surfers Against Sewage 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.
“Every step communities and individuals 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.”
Gaining plastic free status has been a community-wide effort involving businesses, schools, and the local council.
Priding itself on inclusivity, the initiative aims to involve people of all ages and backgrounds to reduce their plastic use.
“Seaford is full of independent shops and they have been instrumental in getting our message heard,” Claire said.
“One shop, Scoop and Weigh, has extended their range of bulk foods to buy loose in your own containers...
“I am thrilled at this because it encourages residents to shop differently, for the planet.”
The campaign has also involved local schools who took part in Plastic Free Week in May 2019.
Claire says this has led to an increase in the number of families and young children taking part in beach cleans.
She recognises that a community ‘will never be totally single use plastic free’ but hopes to encourage a ‘change in attitudes’ towards plastic.
The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to use a five point plan to help communities reduce single-use plastic.
The Cornwall based marine conservation charity does not aim to remove all plastic from daily life but intends to reduce the amount produced and used.
More information about Plastic Free Communities can be found at this website.
Find out more about Plastic Free Seaford at the campaign’s website.