Can you help Ottery become plastic free?

Katy Lancaster (chair of PFO) and Meg Somers (committee member) after a litter pick

Katy Lancaster, chair of PFO, and Meg Somers, committee member, after a litter pick - Credit: PFO

An Ottery-based group of volunteers, who are helping to raise awareness of single use plastic problems, are seeking new members to help them continue their environmental campaign.

Plastic Free Ottery (PFO), which is part of the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Communities movement, aims to raise awareness of plastic pollution and encourage residents and businesses to reduce their use of single use plastics. 
But the efforts of PFO, which was formed in 2018, have been severely hampered by the coronavirus pandemic and is now desperately asking for more volunteers to step forward.

Victoria Robinson, PFO Community Champion, said: “We're looking for new members to bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm after a year of treading water through the pandemic. 
“We've made great steps forward in getting local businesses to reduce their single use plastic and encouraging the community to think about recycling and taking their litter home but there's lots more to do.
“Our activities are fun and inspiring and always involve cake.”

One of the many community litter pick ups

One of the many community litter pick ups - Credit: PFO

Past events include a stand at Ottery Food & Families festival and Cadhay Summer Fete, a Sewing Bee at the Silver Otter and reusable bag workshop with students at The King’s School.

“We have continued to encourage and support local businesses and organisations to reduce plastic use”, said Victoria.
“We held regular litter picks from May to October in 2019, most of which were well-attended. 
“These were timed to coincide with larger efforts, such as SAS national litter picks, where possible. 
“We influenced the Food and Families festival in 2019 and 2020/21 which resulted in more stringent plastic-free requirements for exhibitors. 
“We have maintained an active presence on social media, with regular (often daily) posts and weekly features such as ‘shop local Saturdays’.
“Then the pandemic hit… Things went very quiet of course, but it feels like things could now pick up again.” 

A talk by Gareth Bourton from EDDC during plastic free July 2019

A talk by Gareth Bourton from EDDC during plastic free July 2019 - Credit: PFO

PFO are now looking to the future as lockdown starts to lift.
Previously talked about ideas that haven't been realised yet due to the pandemic include:

  • Cigarette butts bin
  • Terracycle hub for Ottery
  • Water refill point
  • Plastic Free Schools
  • Screen printing canvas bags (grant money awarded)
  • More plastic free champions
  • Mass unwrap
  • Repair cafe with men’s shed

If you would like to join Plastic Free Ottery search for the group on Facebook and Instagram or email

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