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Litter-Free Felixstowe inspiring residents to get involved – and make our town the cleanest in Britain

PUBLISHED: 17:42 06 April 2019

Volunteers are working hard to keep Felixstowe's beach free of washed up and left rubbish Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Volunteers are working hard to keep Felixstowe's beach free of washed up and left rubbish Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Archant

Felixstowe’s relationship with the sea is obvious – a traditional seaside town, attracting thousands of visitors a year, with a thriving port on its doorstep.

Volunteers helping out with a beach clean in Felixstowe Picture: DEBBIE BARTLETTVolunteers helping out with a beach clean in Felixstowe Picture: DEBBIE BARTLETT

It is, therefore, unsurprising that the recent media coverage of plastic waste in the ocean has inspired residents to want to take action.

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet programme galvanised people across the world to tackle plastic waste and in Felixstowe, a group of likeminded people formed the community group Plastic Free Felixstowe. The group’s aim is to eliminate plastic waste and ensure it doesn’t end up in the sea. This meant the need to act, collaborating with business, schools, shops and restaurants to eliminate single-use plastics wherever possible.

Living on the coast, storms frequently deposit quantities of plastic rubbish on the shore – small pieces of disposable cups, fishing wire, straws, plastic cutlery and bottle tops.

Litter-Free Felixstowe’ was formed last November by Plastic-Free Felixstowe, to bring a real sense of community to litter-picking by attracting numbers; through PR and publicity

Volunteers at a beach clean in Felixstowe Picture: DEBBIE BARTLETTVolunteers at a beach clean in Felixstowe Picture: DEBBIE BARTLETT

around town, the first event saw over 70 people join in.

It is apparent that the group is immediately welcoming and engaging – people from all walks of life attend from small children and students to business people and elderly residents. Some people come with families and other come alone but, after an hour and a half of litter-picking, everyone is making new friends and feels a real sense of purpose and satisfaction.

Litter-Free Felixstowe continues to grow its membership and a full litter-pick now takes place on the first Sunday of every month with adhoc litter-picks in between.

Attendance levels have continued to increase. In February, the group was pleased to find many people asking to join after witnessing the beach clean from their Sunday morning walk on the Prom, while in March, even in the storms at the beginning of the month, people still turned out at the Viewpoint to offer support in the rain on World Environment Day.

Volunteers ready to pick that litter Picture: DEBBIE BARTLETTVolunteers ready to pick that litter Picture: DEBBIE BARTLETT

Debbie Bartlett, who organises Litter-Free Felixstowe, commented: “I am so proud to see how Felixstowe has responded to the plastic crisis in our oceans. We may not be able to change the world but we can try and work together locally, either by reducing the amount of single use plastic in the town or litter-picking when it arrives on our beaches and in public spaces. It is fun to get involved and great to be with such a lovely group of positive people.”

The group has ambitious plans: convincing companies to eliminate single-use plastics across Felixstowe, talking to schools, organising group and corporate litter-picks in parks, beaches and woodlands and, most importantly, inspiring people to join in.

A big awareness event is planned for Felixstowe town centre on April 20, but Litter-Free Felixstowe is already making a huge difference.

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