THE COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous effect on all of our normal daily lives. As Lyme Regis reawakens following two months of lockdown, I thought it might be worthwhile to review a couple of initiatives from Surfers Against Sewage and Litter Free Coast and Sea that have been running during the lockdown period.
Surfers Against Sewage have run a campaign designed for social media called #returntooffender. The idea is that people photograph branded plastic waste on our beaches and upload it to social media with #returntooffender and tag the ‘offending’ company.
This is a great idea and a way for the public to influence directly the manufacturers of single use plastic waste.
Only when I was confined to Lyme Regis did I notice that there was very little plastic waste on the beaches! In fact, during the two months of lockdown when I visited our town beach most days I didn’t see one piece of plastic waste.
We haven’t had any real storms to wash in waste but it is illuminating that, with a lack of beach users, there is a significant lack of plastic waste!
I know that on the north coast of Devon and Cornwall there was still waste washing up, I suspect because they have greater tides and currents than we do on the English Channel.
In a similar vein, Litter Free Coast and Sea has also picked up on this with social media campaign #Keepitclean. Here they are highlighting the direct association of visitors to our beaches with litter waste and urging people to take it home with them.
So as we feel our way to a new ‘normal’, will we be able to encourage people to use the facilities provided or take their rubbish home with them? Will more people be conscious that single use plastic waste is often unnecessary and always substitutable with a paper or card based product?
It will be a slow process or readjustment for everyone, not least our town council who had indicated they would install water refill points along the seafront and improve recycling this season. These initiatives will almost definitely be delayed by the pandemic, but hopefully not lost.
In the meantime I hope as Turn Lyme Green and Plastic Free Lyme Regis we can continue to persuade our community and visitors to Refuse, Refill, Reduce & Recycle!
Chairman of Plastic Free Lyme Regis Strategy Group