In our work as North Devon Beach Reps with the Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), Councillor Biederman for Instow asked our School Councillors, Jess and Max, to present to to Devon County Council about the issues of plastics in our environment. You can read their presentation below (YouTube link too) including Jess’s punchline that was almost lost through the laughter of the council chamber!
Council had business to attend to for the first 2 hours so we had an amazing tour of County Hall and Max’s favourite bit was of the Traffic Room where we could have run Exeter to a standstill by changing traffic lights!
Moving back to the Cabinet Meeting room, we only had to wait a matter of minutes before the Chair / Leader of the Council, John Hart, introduced Max and Jess to present the motion that Cllr Biederman had submitted.
The motion was passed…! They changed the wording slightly but endorsed and agreed to it, making Devon the first County to pass this. We were also invited to come back and do a return audit of the Single Use Plastics we noticed being used in the building.
Well done to Max and Jess – I was really proud of them – we even returned to school to be contacted by Devon Radio and had an impromptu interview over the phone!
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Plastic is an issue and we find a lot of it on our beaches.
We’ve helped out with beach cleans before and we’ve filled a lot of bin liners with rubbish.
When we walk our dog, he always brings us a plastic thing in his mouth to play with.
I’ve seen a dead seagull before and it was a horrible sight – it was all open and I could see it had eaten lots of rope and fishing nets which probably caused its death.
- Surfers Against Sewage is a leading environmental charity that’s been active for more than 25 years.
- Their campaign entitled, ‘Break The Bag Habit,’ was mentioned in the Queen’s speech in 2014, which resulted in 6 million fewer bags being issued in the 12 months following the 5p charge.
- Their latest initiative is about Plastic Free Coastlines and you may have heard about how important this is through David Attenborough’s latest TV programme, or Michael Gove’s views on the bottle deposit scheme.
- A bottle will last for more than 400 years and once broken down into micro-plastic pieces, will enter the food chain. There’s no escaping the fact that plastic effects the marine environment and that micro-plastics have a detrimental impact on the animals that live in it and the food we eat.
- We are the first school to represent Surfers Against Sewage in their Beach Reps programme and as such, we hope to educate, lead by example and also support beach cleaning initiatives.
At school, our kitchen is reducing packaging and they are stopping using single-use sauce sachets. We also re-use yoghurt pots for the little kids’ craft lessons.
We know that children use refillable bottles and every tap in school is for drinking water.
- There were over 400 Beach Cleans throughout the country over the ½ term break…
Surfers against Sewage has calculated that 35 tonnes of rubbish was collected
and that 11,000 single-use plastic bottles was amongst this.
- Cleaning up is costly… but it’s also purely cosmetic.
- The steering group I’m part of has organised a launch evening for local businesses up in Braunton in North Devon, where we’ll share some easy steps to becoming plastic-free and to draw up action plans to support them in reducing their reliance on plastic and to look for, and use, alternatives.
- There are over 100 Community Leaders like myself, signed up to volunteer for the Surfers Against Sewage Charity.
They have supported four motions, similar to the one you have in front of you, and all four have been passed… they’ve been in
Brighton & Hove City
- The Motion that Cllr Biederman is proposing is excellent, and the children would appreciate if you could…
- Pass it
- Encourage and promote plastic free initiatives in the South West
- Reduce or remove single-use plastics from DCC premises
- And to consider an audit perhaps in 6 months time, to measure progress.
We really hope that when we’re your age, there is a lot less plastic in the environment.
And that we’re using better ways to throw away our rubbish.