Sign up for our Plastic-Free Community Action Plan

The South East Rivers Trust has launched a new scheme to encourage groups to protect rivers from plastic, by cutting their reliance on single-use items. It is called the Community Action Plan and is part of our Preventing Plastic Pollution project. Below, Hannah Dry, our Plastics Project Officer, outlines the concept and how you can get involved.

Plastic is embedded in our lives and waterways

When the first synthetic plastic, Bakelite, was conceived in 1907 no one could have predicted the plastic-filled world we live in today. Plastic has become intrinsically linked with our lives. 

The words of Yarsley and Couzens in 1945 have an eerie foreboding of how we now live our lives interwoven with plastic.

“The … Plastic man cleans his teeth and brushes his hair with a plastic brush, clothes himself with plastic clothes, writes his first lesson with a plastic pen… Until in old age, the plastic man… wears a denture with silent plastic teeth and spectacles with plastic lens…”

We have all seen the heart-wrenching footage from Blue Planet II – an albatross feeding its chick with plastic and of dolphins playing with plastic bags.

It is hard not to feel hopeless when confronted with modern-day statistics. For example, 91% of all plastic ever created has not being recycled (National Geographic) and 80% of marine plastic pollution comes from rivers (Preventing Plastic Pollution project)

At our river cleanups, we always find many volunteers are shocked by the sheer volume of plastic litter we find from a seemingly clean looking stretch of river. We also know that many people would like to do more. This is why we have devised the Community Action Plan.

Litter at Esplanade Rochester before a cleanup © South East Rivers Trust

Tackling single-use plastic in manageable steps

The South East Rivers Trust is one of 18 organisations across the UK and France working on the  Preventing Plastic Pollution project, funded by the EU INTERREG VA France (Channel) England Programme project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This seeks to understand the role rivers play in plastic pollution and to encourage community groups to change their behaviours, informed by data. The partners all work towards the goal of finding and putting in place solutions to plastic pollution, to protect our rivers and ultimately our seas. 

Our work on PPP focuses on the River Medway. 

Our new Community Action Plan aims to embed sustainable behaviour within the local community by reducing how much single-use plastic people use. The aim is to protect the River Medway and its catchment, which stretches from Ashdown Forest in Sussex through large parts of Kent to the Thames Estuary. 

The Community Action Plan provides a framework for groups who want to work with us to make their local area more sustainable, by taking steps to reduce the single-use plastic which most causes the group a problem. 

We will organise workshops to help you think of ideas and ways to reduce single-use, as well as provide resources and information from the Preventing Plastic Pollution project. 

The Friends of the River Medway have joined forces with our preventing plastic pollution project © South East Rivers Trust

We’ll help your community or group to set up a plan

The Community Action Plan is designed to be flexible. Reducing single-use plastic beyond the walls of your home can seem a daunting task. But we will help you break this task down into achievable steps and make it relevant and appropriate to your community, your expertise and your connections. 

There are some amazing people doing some amazing things to reduce plastic pollution and everybody can be a part of this change.

If you are involved with a community organisation – from running clubs to faith groups – we’re calling you to work with us to reduce plastic pollution in your area. 

We will help you target the top three items that are most problematic to you and your environment. We can give you resources such as the Plastic Pledge certificate which can help you think about single-use plastic in your own lives.

We can give you data from our Preventing Plastic Pollution as a start guide. We’ll also help you tell others about what you’re doing and reach out to local businesses and through other networks so you can spread the word and encourage others.

We’ll even tell you how you can set up community events and organise action by asking your local politicians to help tackle plastic pollution.

Sign up to our Community Action Plan

Or find out more information via email.

Volunteers in Tonbridge collect litter at one of our cleanup events © South East Rivers Trust