Plastic Free North Devon: Post-storm clean-up leads to ‘mind-boggling’ discoveries

All of these crisp packets are older than the people holding them. Pictures: Plastic Free North Devo

All of these crisp packets are older than the people holding them. Pictures: Plastic Free North Devon - Credit: Plastic Free North Devon

It’s been a busy month for Plastic Free North Devon in the wake of the recent storms.

Some of the plastic items cleaned up at Saunton. Picture: Plastic Free North Devon

Some of the plastic items cleaned up at Saunton. Picture: Plastic Free North Devon - Credit: PFND

1973. The year US troops withdrew from Vietnam. The year Marvin Gaye released the banger Let's Get It On. And the year Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die shot into cinemas.

It's also the year a Golden Wonder crisp packet was created. That crisp packet was discovered on Saunton Beach a mind-boggling 47 years later.

Storm Dennis wreaked havoc on North Devon's coastline, but fortunately 109 people braved the harsh weather for a Saunton Beach clean last month.

Other discoveries on the day included a Mini Cheddar packet from 1991 and a fully intact bathroom hygiene set. (Mothers' Day present anyone?)

Some of the plastic items cleaned up at Saunton. Picture: Plastic Free North Devon

Some of the plastic items cleaned up at Saunton. Picture: Plastic Free North Devon - Credit: PFND


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Discoveries such as these are yet another reminder of the irresponsibility of our race. We've been pumping oil out of the ground and using it to produce objects that are used ONCE and for only a few seconds.

Every piece of plastic ever produced still exists somewhere in some form or another. Let that sink in.

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By the end of 2019, the production of plastic added more than 850 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. That's the equivalent of 189 coal-fired power plants.

The use of plastics are embedded into our society. Our careless and unconscious use of plastics is a stark reflection of the relentless and unsustainable consumerism that simply cannot continue if we have any chance of averting climate breakdown.

Some of the plastic items cleaned up at Saunton. Picture: Plastic Free North Devon

Some of the plastic items cleaned up at Saunton. Picture: Plastic Free North Devon - Credit: PFND

To reduce our carbon footprints, it is not enough to recycle the plastic we use. We need to significantly reduce our consumption of it.

This month we welcome the first North Devon Climate Action Week! From the March 21 to 28, environment-themed events will be taking place all across our corner of the county. The perfect opportunity to reduce your plastic (and carbon!) footprint, keep your eyes peeled for the latest workshops, talks and events.

Small changes DO eventually add up to huge results. Together, we can reduce plastic, and with it, the impact of climate change.

Some of the plastic items cleaned up at Saunton. Picture: Plastic Free North Devon

Some of the plastic items cleaned up at Saunton. Picture: Plastic Free North Devon - Credit: PFND

Plastic free tip: Sourcing your fruit and veg from local producers. It means less food miles and plastic packaging, therefore a reduced carbon footprint.

Dates for your diary:

March 8: Bishop's Beach Clean - Putsborough Beach 10:30- 12:00

March 13: Nurdle tour and Beach clean - Croyde 10:00-15:00

March 14: Nurdle tour and Beach clean - Croyde 10:00-15:00

March 20: Muckle Flugga or Bust : A Journey through Britain's Far North - Braunton Countryside Centre. 19:15 - 21:30 . Tickets available on Eventbrite

March 21-28: North Devon Climate Action week - Various events happening across North Devon

March 26: Film Screening of 2040 and Panel Discussion, Braunton Countryside Centre.

March 28: Braunton repair cafe (sewing and textiles), Braunton Countryside Centre 10:00-13:00

For more information about Plastic Free North Devon or to get in touch, email plasticfreenorthdevon@gmail.com

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