Plastic-Free Devon

Feb 27, 2023 | Featured Articles, Interviews



Plastic-Free Devon

Feb 27, 2023 | Featured Articles, Interviews

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups. 100 billion disposable plastic cutlery items. 200 plastic bottles per mile of UK coastline. That’s the amount of waste we’re producing as a country in just one single year. So what do we do about it?

The single-use plastic pollution problem we face is no joke. And it’s only through collective action that we can make changes to stop this level of waste from overwhelming our world.

The good news is that change has already begun. Hundreds of communities across the country are already embracing a united vision – to create plastic-free communities.

One big organisation leading the way is Surfers Against Sewage. Launched in 1990 after a like-minded group of water sport lovers were sick – quite literally – of the effects of pollution in our waters, Surfers Against Sewage went on to expand their campaign inland as well as on the coast. Now, as one of the UK’s leading marine conservation charities, it is creating a community network across the UK with the common aim of reducing, or eliminating entirely, single-use plastic from our beaches, green spaces and town centres. 

In Devon alone there are already 15 towns and villages boasting their certified plastic-free status, including Ottery St. Mary, Sidmouth, Newton Abbot, Dawlish, Bovey Tracey and Totnes, and a further 13 that are making progress towards obtaining their own certification, including Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton and the entire city of Exeter.

It’s not just a simple call for volunteers either. It’s a full-blown operation involving all members of the community – that involves the organisations, educational facilities and perhaps most importantly, the businesses that operate in our towns and villages, in order to fight the problem right at the source.

Reduce, refill, reuse or rethink. That’s the mantra here.

While making changes higher up the chain is key, individual actions are still vitally important. Changes in consumer habits will lead to businesses having to adapt and respond to customer demand. Opting for a refillable water bottle to reduce the 38.5 million plastic bottles bought every day in the UK and avoiding brands using lots of single-use packaging; it’s all part of the effort.

There are five primary objectives that communities must work towards and achieve to be awarded with the plastic-free status: community events, creating community allies, getting businesses onboard to champion the cause and having the local council take responsibility, lead by example and support new plastic-free initiatives.

Lucy Oakes-Ash is a volunteer in Exmouth, currently working towards getting the town plastic-free certified. She explains: “We don’t expect the whole town to give up plastic completely, but just use it sensibly.” The Exmouth group have successfully held their first plastic-free festival and encourage volunteers old and new to head down and take part in the weekly Sunday 8:30am beach clean.

The Point Bar & Grill in Exmouth is just one example of the town’s businesses getting involved, encouraging visitors to grab a beach cleaning bucket and bring back any waste found – with the reward of a free hot drink!

Together, we can tackle the problem.

Do you want to make a difference where you live? Join the campaign today. Find out more at

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Burrator Reservoir Accessible Walk

This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum

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