A Heysham couple and their shop staff are leading the way in a bid to cut down on the use of plastic in the community.
Tom Barker and his wife Chantelle, who own Time for Flowers in Heysham Road, have launched a beach cleaning initiative which they hope will become a monthly community event.
They have also made a conscious effort to reduce plastic use in the shop – and Tom estimates that as a result, they have managed to cut down by two thirds.
“Within the flower industry there’s an incredible amount of plastic,” Tom said. “Flowers will come to us wrapped in cellophane and when the flowers go out they are traditionally wrapped in cellophane.
“We are taking steps to reduce this and have already reduced our usage by 66 per cent.
“Every bouquet that goes out now uses biodegradable cellophane, paper or hessian.
“We were then thinking about what we could do with all the cellophane that’s sent in to us.
“We have been doing some research, and Catherine Curran, one of our staff, told us about eco bricks, which can be filled with cellophane and used to build things – it’s about repurposing plastic for another use.”
They have now organised a beach clean at Heysham on Sunday April 14.
“We all share a common concern about the state of our coastlines and the effect plastics are having on the marine life,” Tom said.
“We live on the coast and have a real community presence and wanted to do something else to help.
“We all use the beaches and want to see them cleaner.
“We therefore decided to create a community group to try and tidy up our beaches.
“The idea is that we meet for the first time on April 14 at our shop and head down to Heysham beach to collect as much plastic and other litter as we can.
“We’ll then head back to the shop, sort and clean the waste ready for recycling, and will lay on soup and hot drinks for everyone.
“We’d also like to see similar programmes run right the way up our stretch of coast and already we have another major Morecambe business interested in getting involved.”
Tom said they hope to take a group out once a month.
“We want to make it a real community effort,” he said. “We have already got about 100 people interested.
“We have all got kids and we all live in the area and want to see it thrive.
“We need to take responsibility for it.
“It might be only a small part of the world, but it’s our part and we want to try and make a positive impact.”
Tom said the couple also have a seven-month-old son, Archie, who has chronic lung disease and so the family appreciates the ability to walk in the fresh air on the beach.
The couple – who also have a two-year-old son Reggie and a 21-year-old son Joe, who works in the shop – have also contacted a local school which is interested in taking some of the waste to recycle into eco bricks.
Tom is using the hashtag #timeforchange on social media to let everyone know what they are doing.
*For more information, go to “Time for Change – Heysham Beach Clean” on Facebook.