Some of our local residents were getting messy last week.. all for a good cause! Following the BBC programme "Drowning in Plastic", what started as a conversation as to how upsetting and awful the impact of plastic in our oceans and seas was, has culminated in local community action to get rid of plastic waste in Sutton.
After watching the programme, three local residents - Alan Bishop, Anne-Marie Simpson and Keith Ward got together to think about what could be done locally. Although it would seem that in Sutton Coldfield we are a long way from the coast, the volume of plastic in the oceans starts on land and therefore any effort to recycle, reduce waste and pick up already discarded waste was thought to be a worthwhile contribution. Alan is a keen cyclist and runner, regularly using the fantastic facilities in Sutton Park and he led the group, suggesting an initial litter pick in the Park would be a positive way to help reduce the waste finding its way into local watercourses which ultimately also helps prevent more waste finding its way into the sea. Keith and his son Zack had already spent a morning in the park picking up plastic and were shocked at just how much plastic is scattered around.
Garnering as much support as possible from existing local groups that either use or help look after the park together with the Town Council and Birmingham City Council to loan equipment and provide expertise and knowledge, the group set about planning a litter pick day which was initially named Start at The Source. After a number of weekly meetings hosted by Simpsons Gin Bar, everything was set - facebook page launched, twitter set up and with the help of friends at Fairfax School, Penns Lane school and the groups Facebook friends, word was out to meet in one of 4 locations to undertake The Big Plastic Pick UP.
Local MP Andrew Mitchell also gave his support to the initiative, pitched up to start the day off and pick some litter himself! 70 volunteers of all ages turned up - with groups from Friends of Sutton Park, ParkRide, ParkRun, Mencap, Fairfax School and Penns Lane school teachers and pupils. The two hour session removed a staggering volume of plastic waste from relatively small areas at Banners Gate, Boldmere Gate, Town Gate and Clifton Road. Using equipment donated by Birmingham City Council and local company System 2000, an entire truck full of waste was bagged and sent off for recycling. This really is just the start however and what the group realised is that we all need to do more to both remove waste and to change behaviours in dropping waste to both protect our beautiful park and stop the build up of plastic.
More events are now being planned and it is Alans hope that in Sutton we can work to launch a bottle deposit scheme which will help encourage more recycling. So even on a cold and grey Saturday morning, giving up 2 hours of time can be a huge benefit to us all. The group are very friendly and welcome any volunteers to take part and make some new friends along the way!
Andrew, our MP, said as he launched the Day: “This is an important local initiative which I strongly support. I congratulate Alan, Anne-Marie & Keith from the Town Council on their dynamic approach to tackling this serious problem.”
Keep in touch with what is going on either via the groups Facebook Page - Start at The Source or on twitter at TheBigPlasticPickUP