Hornsea is Awarded ‘Plastic Free Communities’ Status as it Takes Action on Single-Use Plastic

Hornsea has become the first town in the East Riding and only the third in the whole of Yorkshire to be 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. Hornsea has joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way on tackling throw away plastic.
Paul Parry from Hornsea started the campaign earlier this year after his passion for surfing and distress at plastic pollution on the beach saw him commencing weekly beach cleans and becoming a Surfers Against Sewerage campaigner. Paul wanted to take Hornsea a step further, aiming for plastic free accreditation. Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Paul 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. Paul commented, “It’s not been an easy task and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster constantly thinking about our next move. I have a fantastic team and amazing support from the Hornsea community. It’s this community and team support that has gained Hornsea this accreditation, it’s well deserved and a massive boost for our town to be the first in East Yorkshire.”
The local events the plastic free group have been involved in include three large community beach cleans, raising the profile of the group with a plastic free raffle and speaking and engaging with the local schools. More recently the group secured funding to rent a beach hut on the promenade which is open on a weekend for the community to borrow litter pickers from and during the week for pre-booked community groups.
Hornsea Town Council are one of the organisations who have supported the initiative with Cllr Julie Kemp being the council representative in the group. Hornsea Community Primary School had a group of pupils use plastic free as their campaign for their Junior Award Scheme for Schools project. The pupils attended beach cleans and learnt about the impact of single use plastic on the environment as well as writing to local businesses asking them to remove single use plastic. The group’s success took a leap forward when Let’s Go Hornsea regeneration group applied for funding to help Plastic Free Hornsea. They were successful in obtaining a grant for litter pickers as well as water bottles for every pupil at Hornsea Community Primary School to reduce their single use plastic consumption. Further help has been received from the Tesco Community Team, Hornsea WI and Nick Middleton from the Hey Smile Foundation as well as Active Coast, the foreshore team and East Riding of Yorkshire Council who constantly remove the bags of collected rubbish for the group.
In order to achieve the accreditation, the group needed local businesses on board. The initial businesses to have made a change to help the town achieve the accreditation are The Beach Hut Café, Whiteheads Fish and Chip Shop, Laser Products, The Marine pub, Café 10 and Sullivan’s Fish and Chip Shop. The businesses have implemented a range of initiatives including swapping to stainless steel reusable straws, wooden instead of plastic takeaway cutlery and swapping from plastic sachets of sauces to traditional glass bottles.
Paul added, “It’s been my passion over the last year with many sleepless nights, so to finally achieve the accreditation for Hornsea is overwhelming. Although we have achieved accreditation this is an ongoing journey to continue to reduce the use of single plastic as of course the town isn’t completely plastic free. Thank you so much to everyone who cares about our beautiful town and beaches and please keep supporting us and our marine life.”
Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said, “It’s great to see the work that Hornsea has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.
We have over four 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 changes we need to see.”
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So what next?
The group are keen to emphasise that the award is only the beginning of what needs to be a war on plastic if this planetary crisis is to be seriously addressed. The millions of tonnes of this non-natural material which has been released into the environment is spreading like a cancer across the earth. We have all seen the photos of dead birds and fish with their stomachs full of plastic and increasing numbers of people who have tested themselves have also found plastics inside their bodies.
Plastic Free Hornsea is planning a range of initiatives for the coming year to confront this situation.
A Junior Plastic Free Champion, Isabel Sharkey, has been appointed and intends to challenge the schools to become plastic free, as well as spreading her message to the students.
Local artist Tom Everard will be working with Isabel and the schools as well as anyone else who might want to participate, to create sculptures using plastic waste and eco-bricks which will be displayed in the town.
Attempts will be made to encourage at least one new business per month to take the steps needed for ‘Plastic Free’ status.
Support will be given to the Refill Project run by Yorkshire Water, which encourages businesses to provide the public with facilities to refill their water bottles rather than having to buy new ones.
Co-ordinator Paul Parry, who has now become the Regional Plastic Free Champion, will be launching a campaign against the plastics which are washed out to sea by the Combined Sewage Outlets. As cotton ear buds in particular are found in abundance on the beach, he intends to send them to the manufacturers and demand that they take action to address the situation.
The SAS Spring beach Clean will be called ‘From Summit to Sea’ as the plan is to organise collections inland as well as on the beaches. Plastic Free Hornsea hope to encourage other local groups to participate so that a clean up of the whole town can be staged during the Easter holiday.
A group of paddleboard enthusiasts are organising a ‘Paddle against Plastic’ (collecting plastic as they paddle) for the summer and invite all paddleboarders to join in as well as canoeists and other vessel owners.
If serious inroads are to be made into the plastic problem, however, it will need an effort from the whole community so anyone who has other new initiatives and would like to get involved please get in touch.

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