PLASTIC CAMPAIGN: Morecambe volunteer’s passion and city council plans

Jenny Dowell with Graham Buckley at the Regent Park, Morecambe, litter pick.
Jenny Dowell with Graham Buckley at the Regent Park, Morecambe, litter pick.

As the council sets to look at tackling plastic waste we speak to a volunteer member at the Marine Conservation Society who is doing her bit to help save the planet.

Jenny Dowell moved to Morecambe over a year ago and has played an active part in the community ever since – taking part in litter picks and beach cleans on Morecambe Bay.

A beach clean taking place at Morecambe.

A beach clean taking place at Morecambe.

“I take part in a lot of litter picks, sometimes rubbish and bits of plastic can be left in an area for a long time if it has become trapped between plants and bushes,” said Jenny, who recently took part in a littler pick at Regent Park in Morecambe.

“There are real hotspots on Morecambe Bay for plastic waste, particular around the ocean edge, also the wind does add to the litter.

“Sunderland Point is a lovely wild place yet it can be full of rubbish, a lot washed up and who knows where it has come from.”

According to Recycle Now, the national recycling campaign for England, 79 per cent of the plastic waste ever created is still in the environment.

Plastic bottles at Regent Park, Morecambe during a litter pick.

Plastic bottles at Regent Park, Morecambe during a litter pick.

But we only recycle 58 per cent of our plastic bottles – leaving a 42 per cent recycling gap.

At a recent Lancaster City Council meeting, £30,000 was earmarked (as part of the budget) to support the Reducing Plastic Bottles/Disposable Cups working party.

The party hopes to install drinking fountains around the city and at Williamson Park and Happy Mount Park to help reduce plastic waste.

“I think that would be an excellent idea and would help reduce the number of plastic bottles, I use a reusable bottle for water,” said Jenny.

Meanwhile Lancashire County Council are looking into outlawing plastic cups, disposable crockery and other single use plastic items from county hall and other council premises after a bid from Councillor Gina Dowding.

She persuaded councillors to ask the council’s Cabinet to consider phasing out the use of SUPs (single use plastic items). Now a working party is likely to be set up to consider the issue.

“This is about responding to the immediate crisis we have regarding plastics, it’s about this council taking leadership, it needs urgent action,” said Coun Dowding.

“I don’t think public awareness has ever been higher of the need to reduce use of plastics.”

Coun Dowding wants to make the council a SUP free authority by the end of 2018.

At a county meeting Coun Dowding had proposed a four part motion and wanted councillors to ask the council’s cabinet to: *Develop a robust strategy to make LCC a ‘single-use-plastic-free’ authority by the end of 2018 and encourage county institutions, businesses and citizens to do the same;

*End the sale and provision of SUP products such as bottles, cups, cutlery and drinking straws in council buildings, events and services;

*Encourage schools and social care facilities to work to phase out single use plastic items by the end of the year;

*To ensure the council acts to end SUPs use this year in its procurement of goods and suppliers “wherever feasible and appropriate.”

As more and more council’s across the country look to tackle plastic waste, programmes like BBC’s Blue Planet II have spread the global plastic concern far and wide, said Jenny.

“I think society is definitely more aware of plastic waste nowadays due to the number of campaigns like the 5p bag charge, recycling, encouraging people to use a bag for life,” said Jenny.

“The Blue Planet programme was the most popular series on TV last year, they did reach a lot of people.

“They approached the conservation issues by showing success stories, instead of doom and gloom.

“It shows that recycling and conservation does work, there is hope.

“I think sometimes people are overwhelmed with it all, it does make you think about it all and believe it is possible.”

At her home in Morecambe, Jenny and her partner use plastic bags but are big recyclers and shop as eco-friendly as they can. “When I buy at Morrisons Supermarket, say I buy four bread rolls, I take the plastic packaging and reuse them,” she said.

“I buy loose vegetables and I don’t bag it as I know I’m just going to bring them home and put them in my fridge.

“I also shop at the Single Step wholefood co-op in Lancaster where you can buy loose porridge oats and beans, and they use paper bags in there and I take then back or reuse them.

“It’s amazing that a sandwich, which has a shelf life of about two days, the plastic packaging can take something like 200 years to degrade.

“I’m happy the Lancaster Guardian is doing this plastic campaign, reducing plastic waste is something we should all care deeply about.”