Recycling & Zero Waste Week - Plastic Free Colchester

A recently created Facebook group has captured the recycling and zero-waste zeitgeist in our town, and is bringing together proactive, like-minded residents, who want to make Colchester plastic-free!

One of the founders of Plastic Free Colchester, Claire Rodie, tells us more:

  • Where did the idea for 'Plastic Free' come from and what is your vision?

I had already been part of a few ethical living groups on Facebook and I found a UK wide zero-waste group which I found hugely inspiring. I read about lots of different and simple ways in which I could make changes to my own lifestyle to reduce the amount of waste my family produces. I find the topic of plastic in particular fascinating because there are so many different conversations to be had about it. It's also the most problematic material as although it can be recycled, it loses quality each time it's recycled, and so this can only be done two or three times. And while the quality deteriorates, the material itself will be around for hundreds of years, which is mind-boggling. I could see that others were having success with local groups and getting people engaged, and I knew I could do that here in Colchester. The aim is to encourage and enable local people, companies and organisations to reduce their use of plastic (especially single-use plastic), to encourage effective recycling, and of course to take direct action by organising local litter picks and beach cleans. Colchester is a big place, which could be seen as a challenge, but I see it as more opportunities to promote change.

One day we'd like to have a scheme where we can target specific organisations and provide a Plastic Free Colchester certificate or sticker to those which have pledged to be plastic free. Where businesses and organisations are trying to make a difference, we believe they deserve credit and would gladly publicise their efforts.

  • Lots of people think they should 'do something', but not many do. What spurred you guys into action?

After Blue Planet 2 finished airing, that really made me need to do something! I know Facebook is a fantastic tool for galvanising groups of people with similar interests and that I could potentially make a big difference by spending just a bit of time writing about the stuff I was already thinking about and doing. I couldn't do this on my own though. I knew from conversations with my friends that many of them feel the same way and I am lucky to be supported by Lynn Frost and Andrea Hooper, who are equally passionate about the cause.

  • How hard was it to garner support?

Really not hard at all! We added our friends to the group, who then added their friends. We also advertised the group on other local Facebook groups.  People intrinsically want to do the right thing, and what with plastics being in the news a lot lately, I think they liked to see a local slant on it. It makes it more accessible. When we held our first beach clean in Mersea at Easter, lots of people joined up as they could see what a difference we had made. We now have over 500 members and have just launched a Twitter profile @PlasticFreeCol

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  • What would your message to the good people of Colchester be?

Please come and have a look at our group and see for yourself how easy it can be to reduce your plastic consumption! You'll be joining a lovely community of people who really care about our town and the environment in which we all live.

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  • Do you have any other plans we could help you promote?

We are planning to officially launch the group with a film screening combined with a free book distribution to local schools. We are still looking for a suitable venue who can support us (it's taking a while as we are all busy working mums). Watch this space!