Plastic Fantastic! Eastbourne is rewarded for plastic free credentials
Eastbourne has been awarded Plastic Free Communities status after months of taking action on single-use plastic.
The town has joined a network of communities across the UK which are leading the way to tackle throw away plastic at source.
The plastic free status has come from the marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage, in recognition of the work done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.
Local community leader Oliver Sterno began the campaign in January 2018 after he was inspired by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2.
Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Oliver 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.
Oliver said, “I am delighted to have been able to create and manage a collaboration between so many individuals and organisations in order to achieve the Plastic Free Eastbourne award for our town.
“It began with my carrying out a weekly beach clean. Then somebody suggested we should try to get our town to become a plastic free community.
“This campaign has involved whole-town volunteering in parks, on beaches and in publicity events. The most successful event was our Parks Clean in May, which involved more than 700 people volunteering to clean almost all of our 34 Eastbourne parks. Meetings with people, clubs and interest groups, as well as, of course, our council, have contributed to our success. The council’s Neighbourhood First has worked tirelessly as an ally since the early part of our campaigning. I have worked with so many volunteers who are all determined to play their part in trying to save our planet.
“We have listened to live music and singing and stand up comedy. We have run and participated in conferences, watched a campaigning film première and engaged with people from all over Eastbourne and beyond.
‘We have encouraged many groups and individuals to contribute funds generously to our cause.
“One example of where funds have been spent is the current project for signboards created by our primary school pupils as the result of an art competition which 15 of our schools took part in.
“These signboards have begun to be displayed around our town in 20 of our parks to encourage people to keep them clean.
“I thank David Attenborough, Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage and all participants.
“This campaign, which is gaining momentum and support, is about a dire and serious challenge.
“With our determination, we must persuade governments and big business to make the necessary massive and urgent shift.
“Now we have gained this award, we can not sit back on our laurels and relax. Some 34 businesses which have become Plastic Free Champions is only a tiny fraction of the total number of businesses in our town.
“We have to use this award to publicise our campaign to gain more and more support and participation.”
Rachel Yates from Surfers Against Sewage said, “It’s great to see the work that Eastbourne has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.
“We have more than 600 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.”