Normal view

PLASTIC FREE NORTH DEVON Protecting the environment through community-led action

Plastic Free North Devon inspires residents, tourists and businesses to drastically reduce their consumption of single-use plastic, remove it from the environment and dispose of it properly. With support from the Foundation, it will pilot an environmental education project that aims to encourage a shift in society where people want to care about the environment and can help to protect it no matter the personal circumstance.

Plastic Free North Devon (PFND) connects people with their natural surroundings through conversations, education and events to ensure residents and visitors alike want to protect what our very existence depends on. Through its work, PFND has identified the need to target those who do not see the environment as relevant to them, building on Sir David Attenborough’s recognition that ‘no one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.’

Many young people in North Devon don’t have the opportunity to access surrounding areas of natural beauty and environmental importance because of variable social and economic issues that exist within our community. The environmental narrative that has recently become so apparent often has little significance to many individuals and families who rarely have the privilege of making environmentally conscious decisions.

This sits right at the heart of PFND’s campaign to increase care and stewardship over the natural world through education alongside real-life opportunities and experience. It seeks to deliver an engaging and informative education programme to local communities that:

  • Improves their understanding of the natural ocean environment and its importance by encouraging a life-long love of nature;
  • Introduces them to the main impacts of human activity on the planet;
  • Inspires further self-learning about nature and persuades them to make more sustainable lifestyle choices;
  • Encourages volunteering in northern Devon and beyond;
  • Encourages everyone to feel that they can be part of environmental conversation

The project will take a multi-layered approach through the following activities:

  1. 1. Community engagement using virtual reality technology to bring nature to local communities - building on successes achieved using this method already. This aims to ensure people are aware and inspired by what is in their own local area and how one intertwined ecosystem fits in with the next.
  2. 2. Real-life experiences for 16 secondary school students to visit Lundy and experience the wildlife and landscape themselves. This will be followed by a 7-week summer volunteering programme.
  3. 3. Paid ambassador roles, providing meaningful employment and experience for those seeking a career in the environmental sector.

Young people are incredibly important in trying to create a societal tipping point and they will (if society does its job correctly) be the growing voice that the planet so desperately needs. The delivery of the education to young people will specifically seek to:

  • Inspire through passionate and knowledgeable role models;
  • Include the role of science in understanding and protecting nature;
  • Provide information and links to learning organisations for continued engagement;
  • Share narratives about examples of how to get into conservation roles, the barriers and how to beat them down.

The Foundation provided support towards project coordination and equipment, experiences for young people and 1 of the ambassador roles. Beyond the pilot, PFND will evaluate learnings and use them to roll out the project further, evolving the films and activities as well as engaging with communities and partners more widely.