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Plastic? It’s light, it’s transparent, it’s waterproof, it's flexible, it’s cheap and it’s everywhere! Have a look around your house - as I did, and you may be embarrassed to count how many single use plastic bottles, containers, bags and plastic wrappings you have. We are all struggling with this issue. We have seen the pictures of the enormous plastic soup in the Pacific, washed up bottles on shorelines around the world, marine life struggling and dying because they cannot avoid ingesting it. We know plastic is getting in to our food chains and potentially not only threatening the planet but also damaging our health. Above all we know we have to do something!

So in a hopeful tone let’s take a look at what’s going on and what we can do.

First of all let’s talk about face masks. Many purchased masks are made from synthetic plastic fibres but here in Bovey Tracey we can choose to buy cotton washable, reusable masks. Cafe 3Sixty and The Devon Guild sell them and makes them to order, totally bespoke if you want and with slots to add a filter.

Bovey Tracey already has plastic free status from Surfers against Sewage, but there is still more to do.  

A growing number of local businesses are trying very hard to reduce plastic. The delis, the fruit shops, dentists, the Guild, the cafes, the community hub, the co-ops and many others the autumn, 'Bovey Larder’ a new zero packaging shop is opening right in the centre of Bovey.....hurrah! This will join the very successful 'zero' shop in Moretonhampstead and I hear that another one is on its way in Ashburton.

Further afield we hear of pavements and walkways being built from recycled plastic in Cornwall. We know that young people are taking up the challenge to address the plastic issue and pupils from the Beacon School in Sussex recently won an award with a project involving a decommissioned army truck and meal worms (get your head around that!).  H&M are designing clothes made from old ones.  Then there are all sorts of things - worktops, building materials, fabric being made from recycled plastic.

Of course big oil producing companies have an interest in promoting the manufacture of plastic - they are after all worried about the electrification of transport and its effects on their industry.  It is therefore brave and encouraging to hear that Coca Cola and Pepsi are actually beginning to act responsibly and demand that taxes are placed on virgin plastic. This in turn would mean they would have to recycle their bottles because it would be cheaper and all their competitors would be in the same boat.

But there is real power in individual consumer action so what can we do? We are used to the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) but let’s make that 6!


Every choice we make, every product we buy, and every activity we choose to do determine our planet’s future. Many things around our house are made of plastic: from carpets and sofas to plastic ingredients in personal care products so let’s try to look for better options and try to get our concerns heard.


Say ‘No!’ We don’t need straws in drinks or 'to-go' cups for coffee. Refusing single-use plastics is one of the easiest things we can do. Going a step further we can also refuse products that contribute to micro-plastic pollution which is an almost reversible issue.


We can take our own bags, bottles and containers to the fish van, the zero shop and the milk dispenser and we can carry reusable coffee cups and water bottles when out and about. My little Plastic Footprint app is helpful here.


Before we throw-out an item we can consider ways it can be repaired or up-cycled.


We can look for packaging and items that have been made from recycled plastic and be sure to recycle if at all possible.


Plastic takes forever to degrade, pollutes our environment, and harm animals along the way. Safe removal is an option by joining an organised litter pick or safely removing and disposing of an offending item.

Plastic Free Bovey is part of Climate Emergency Bovey & Heathfield. We work closely with Surfers against Sewage but like everything else we have been in 'lockdown' since the end of March.  However we have work to do and lots of plans, so we hope to get up and running again soon. A litter pick will be organised and we shall revisit our fantastic local businesses including the industrial areas, support all the good initiatives and make our voices heard.

Together we can make a difference.

Susie Honnor.  


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