Sutton on Sea and Mablethorpe have become the first coastal community in our region to be awarded ‘plastic free’ status! This was an ambitious initiative led by the local community, including the Sutton on Sea beachcare group and supported by rivercare & beachcare. and Anglian Water. Driven forward by Lianne and her son Jordan - leaders of Sutton on Sea BeachCare, the community worked hard to achieve the award. The status is a declaration of motivation and a measure of the community's action. Activities encouraged by the initiative guidelines include creating a community steering group, encouraging local businesses to replace single use plastics, and coordinating beach clean-up efforts. Already the Sutton on Sea and Mablethorpe campaign has worked with the local BeachCare groups to hold several beach cleans throughout the year, rescuing huge quantities of rubbish before they reach the ocean, whilst multiple businesses in the towns are making the change from single-use plastic, for instance plastic straws and bags, to sustainable alternatives, such as paper straws and bags. It is hoped that other businesses, schools, community groups and individuals will as news of the effort grows. The plastic free community initiative was created by Surfers Against Sewage and launched in 2017. With over 8 million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year, 100,000 marine mammals and turtles, and 1 million sea birds killed by marine plastic pollution annually, the initiative is a call to action for all local communities in the UK. Eliminating plastic from the ocean is a mammoth task, but a more realistic one is encouraging each community to reduce their own plastic use. Surfers Against Sewage Project Officer Rachel Yates said: “It isn’t about removing all plastic from our lives but kicking our addiction to throwaway plastic and changing the system that produces it.” Several other communities in our region have already joined, including Cleethorpes, Skegness, Grantham, Lowestoft, Bedford and Thetford and are moving towards accomplishing the objectives; but Sutton on Sea and Mablethorpe are the first receive the award. For more information on how to join the Sutton on Sea and Mablethorpe Plastic Free Community effort, please contact Lianne or follow Sutton on Sea BeachCare on Facebook.