On Sunday morning members of the Plastic Free Letchworth Team held a litter pick at the Jackman’s Play Area in Letchworth as their contribution to the ‘Surfers Against Sewage Big Spring Beach Clean’. Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) had asked their Plastic Free Community Groups across the country to join them in their truly ‘epic community response to plastic pollution on our beaches, rivers, streets and mountains’. Teams were provided with reusable bags and gloves to help ensure that this event did not contribute any more single-use plastic to the planet. In just over an hour and a half a team of six filled eleven sacks without venturing too far from the play area. Two sacks of litter contained glass, cans and plastic bottles that have now been sent to recycling.

Almost a decade ago SAS conducted an award winning plastic pollution brand survey that revealed that the majority of all beach litter (56%) was attributable to just 12 corporations, dubbed the dirty dozen. Ten years later they have asked their plastic free communities to help updating this survey (including litter found on the coast and inland) to find out what has changed. They plan to use the results of this survey to challenge the Government and big business. From the Letchworth litter pick 325 pieces of litter were identified by brand with the most frequently observed brands being Coke, Cadburys, Haribo, McDonalds and Walkers. Our litter pick data has now been submitted so it can be included in the national survey.

Julia Sonander from the Plastic Free Letchworth Team said, “although we cleared a lot of litter there is plenty more blown into the bushes that could be cleared, it would be good to come back and work with the local community to clear the area of litter.  Of course much of the litter is single-use plastic and Plastic Free Letchworth is working to persuade local businesses and people to switch from these products, for example, replacing snacks in wrappers with fruit in its skin, and taking a drink in a reusable bottle are easy ways to reduce plastic rubbish. The group are also in discussion with the Council and Heritage Foundation to see if litter picking stations, which have proved very successful on beaches, might be a way that local residents can help keep the town clean when they are out walking. Vandalism is often cited as a reason not to provide more bins or litter picking stations, but we think it’s worth taking a risk on this and giving local communities the tools so they can help Letchworth become a litter free town.”

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