Braunton, Georgeham and Croyde has become the first area of North Devon to be awarded officially ‘plastic free’.

The Plastic Free North Devon campaign celebrated its first victory after Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) gave the parishes their plastic free status.

Plastic-Free North Devon, led by SAS community leaders, local representatives and partially funded by the Pickwell foundation, has rewarded 18 local businesses with ‘plastic-free’ status so far, in recognition of their removal of three or more single-use plastics.

Claire Moodie, SAS Regional Representative, said: “It’s encouraging that many local businesses are already on the right track, meaning only small changes are needed to result in a very big difference.

“The Plastic-Free Coastline awards are great for tourism and local investment, but should also be seen as a badge of pride for our communities.”

Businesses taking part include The Thatch and The Store, in Georgeham and Croyde, and Riverside and Saunton Break Cafe in Braunton and Saunton.

Jacques Roux, operations manager at The Thatch., said: “We are very passionate about working closely with and supporting environmental organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage to not only reduce the amount of plastics used but also keep our beaches and oceans clean.

“If we all stand together and make a small change we can conserve and protect our planet for future generations.”

In Braunton, grocers John Patt’s has committed to replacing styrofoam trays and cutlery with biodegradable Vegware and using biodegradable bags.

Owner Sue Patt said: “We want to help stop the plastic ending up in the sea and if we stop selling our produce in it then that is a good first step.”

CJ’s Sandwich Bar in Braunton has eliminated polystyrene takeaway boxes and single-use condiment sachets, and offers free water refills.

Alison Little, who owns CJ’s with her husband Jason, said: “We have tried to eliminate as much single use plastic as possible and we recycle everything that we can.

“Suppliers still use a lot of plastic and it would be great to see this reduce.”

Braunton-based Thompson & Tonic, a mobile gin bar, uses compostable straws and opts for glasses at events like weddings.

Owner Nikki Bamford said: “Starting a business from scratch has been a great way to get it right first time when it comes to sustainability.

“Using plastics was just never an option and working with the guys at Earth Friendly Foodware has been a delight.”

As well as businesses taking part, North Devon District Council has set up a plastic free working group, which includes representatives from PFND, AONB and North Devon Biosphere.

Plastic Free North Devon helped assist the ‘Plastic-Free Woolacombe’ launch last week and further teams are working hard in Bideford, Westward Ho and Appledore.

Action is also beginning in Ilfracombe, Instow and Barnstaple.

Contact Plastic-Free North Devon on Facebook and Instagram, where you can also discover further events, beach clean dates, ideas and success stories.