Plastic Free North Devon: Creating a Sustainable Future One Step at a Time


The world is facing a major challenge in the form of plastic pollution, which is significantly harming our environment and wildlife.

To address this issue, a community organization called Plastic Free North Devon (PFND) has taken upon itself the mission to inspire the local residents, tourists, and businesses in North Devon to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics.

By connecting people with their natural surroundings, PFND aims to cultivate a healthier relationship with the environment.

Key Takeaways
Plastic pollution is a major threat to our environment and wildlife.
Plastic Free North Devon (PFND) aims to inspire residents, tourists, and businesses in North Devon to reduce single-use plastic consumption.
PFND has implemented various projects, such as beach cleans, educational talks, and initiatives to minimize plastic waste at events and on beaches.
The Ocean Explorers project engages young people in the community with the natural world around them and inspires them to take action for the environment.
Everyone has a role to play in reducing plastic waste and protecting the planet.

What is the Plastic Problem?

Plastic is an incredibly versatile material that has become an integral part of our daily lives. Unfortunately, it has a dark side that has emerged in recent years.

Plastic’s durability and chemical properties make it toxic and hazardous to the natural environment, where it can last for hundreds of years.

Here are some eye-opening facts and figures that illustrate the scale of the plastic problem:

  • Over 320 million tonnes of new plastic are manufactured annually, and this figure is rising.
  • Around 40% of plastic produced is for single-use packaging.
  • Since the 1950s, over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced, of which just 9% has been recycled, 12% has been burnt, and 79% is in landfill or litter.
  • Between 8 to 12 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, of which 80% comes from the land.
  • Marine plastic pollution kills over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles annually.

A healthy ocean is vital to a healthy planet that can sustain all life, including ours.

Allowing toxic plastic waste to enter the ocean ecosystem jeopardizes the ecosystems that provide 50% of the oxygen we breathe and the primary source of food for 3.5 billion people.

Plastic-Free North Devon Awareness Video

See the video below for more details about PFND

Plastic-Free North Devon History

PFND began its journey in August 2017, and since then, it has witnessed growing momentum and support from the community.

Financial support from Pickwell Foundation, the Big Lottery Fund, Fullabrook CIC, North Devon Coast AONB, and the community enabled PFND to develop numerous projects, including a beach ambassador project, a tourism awareness project, and educational workshops.

The main goal of PFND is to ensure that the world truly understands the urgent threat of plastic pollution and takes immediate action to reduce its impact.

Plastic Free North Devon has created and actioned many projects these are just some of them.

“Protect Our Playground”

This is in two ingenious parts, the first takes on the prolific surfing community that is in North Devon and the second, simply helps families have more fun, for less money and with a huge positive impact on the environment.

Your average polystyrene body-board is manufactured in China, shipped over 5000 miles, distributed to stores, and used for a mere 10 minutes before breaking and ending up in a landfill.

Around 99% of all plastic comes from fossil fuels, which are refined and manufactured into plastic, transported, used by consumers, and disposed of in some form of waste management system or the natural environment.

In 2019, Keep Britain Tidy’s (KBT) #waveofwaste project collected over 500 boards from Croyde, and in just 26 days of 2020, PFND had already collected 216 boards. The impact is staggering and long-lasting, as every stage of this process releases toxic chemicals into the environment that wildlife and humans ingest and inhale.

The initiative aims to reduce plastic production and pollution by making sustainable alternatives available, encouraging residents and visitors to think long-term, and inspiring other businesses to seek more sustainable options such as wooden belly-board hire.

PFND also seeks to encourage the “think global, act local” narrative. Here in Devon, the ocean connects us to the rest of the world, and we have a vital role to play in protecting this precious resource.

The “Protect our Playground Toy” Libraries minimize the need for cheap buckets and spades that are often purchased for minimal cost to be used only once or twice before breaking or being discarded.

The project aims to reduce the need for cheap plastic toys, minimize waste, and connect people to nature in a sustainable way by offering them an alternative to single-use toys.

Families can turn up to the beach, visit the library, borrow what they need for the day, and return the items for another family to borrow the next day. Toy Libraries are located in several places, including Croyde, Hele Bay, Northam Burrows, and Woolacombe TIC (along with the National Trust one at Marine Drive).

Toy Library *May or may not include happy people

The Visitor Campaign

Recognizing the potential threat and opportunity that large numbers of visitors to the North Devon region represent, PFND has initiated the Visitor Campaign.

This campaign encourages both businesses and visitors to join the mission to protect the environment through positive behavioural changes.

By promoting a plastic-free mindset, the campaign highlights the importance of individual actions multiplied by millions to create global change.

Featured Places to Stay Near Bideford

Beach Cleans

Beach cleans have been an integral aspect of PFND since its inception.

These events not only contribute to the removal of plastic waste from the environment but also serve as an opportunity for community engagement and learning.

In 2018, more than 1,000 people participated in beach cleans, resulting in the removal of over a ton of plastic waste from North Devon’s shores. PFND plans to increase its beach clean efforts and invites everyone to join in and contribute to these events.

Why not get involved when you’re down here on holiday and get the family involved?

Water Bar

The Water Bar, established by PFND in 2018, offers a sustainable alternative to traditional plastic bottled water.

The solar-powered water bar allows event-goers to refill their reusable bottles with filtered water, thereby minimizing plastic waste.

In its first year, the water bar supported eight festivals and sporting events, saving the equivalent of 6,000 plastic water bottles from being used.

North Devon Cup Hire

The North Devon Cup Hire Service is designed to help reduce single-use plastics at events.

By renting out reusable cups for various occasions, the service promotes the shift from disposable plastics to more sustainable alternatives. This initiative not only minimizes plastic waste but also encourages the entire community to adopt environmentally-friendly practices.

School Talks

Educational talks and workshops on the impact of plastic pollution are essential aspects of PFND’s mission.

These sessions equip students with the knowledge and understanding necessary for them to make informed decisions on their plastic consumption.

PFND also offers immersive experiences through their Ocean Explorers Virtual Reality Kit, giving students the chance to experience marine life and understand the need to protect our oceans (more on the explorers in a moment).

Plastic Free North Devon Consortium

The Plastic Free North Devon Consortium is a collaborative effort to eradicate single-use plastics and address broader environmental issues.

The consortium, comprising multiple organizations, pools resources and ideas to drive substantial change in the North Devon Area. PFND plays a critical role in implementing consortium projects, leveraging the support of volunteers and community members.

Ocean Explorers

PFND’s Ocean Explorers project aims to engage young people in the community with the incredible natural world around them.

The Ocean Explorers education outreach project is an initiative that aims to connect young people in our community with nature and inspire them to take action for the environment.

With a focus on children, the project has three key objectives: to make a connection with nature, build a community of support, and take action together.

Ocean Explorer Academy

The flagship component of the project is the Ocean Explorer Academy.

Pupils from Ilfracombe Academy, Pilton Academy, and Braunton Academy have been taken out of the classroom and into the natural world, exploring sand dunes, estuaries, organic farms, marine environments, and woodlands. Many of these children had not had access to such experiences before, and through the project, they have grown to appreciate the diversity and richness of our natural world.

Ocean Explorer Academy

The project has had many benefits for the children, including physical and mental health benefits.

They have embraced each session with curiosity and joy, buoyed up with hot chocolate and flapjacks, especially on days when the weather has been less than clement. A longer engagement period over a term has allowed the children to learn, engage, and take their enthusiasm and momentum back into their communities, including their classrooms, school eco clubs, sports clubs, and even their homes, inspiring them to make positive changes in their future learning and careers.

Lundy Expeditions

The second element of the Ocean Explorers project is Lundy Expeditions.

Unfortunately, North Devon has significant levels of deprivation, and many children living just a little way inland do not have the opportunities to experience the healing effects of nature. With these expeditions, we can provide them with an experience they would otherwise not have had and inspire the next generation to take action for the environment.

PFND teamed up with local secondary schools to take children on educational trips to Lundy, where they can experience the stunning landscape and marine environment for themselves.

The Ocean Explorers education outreach project is rooted in the amazing natural world right here on our doorstep, and it is designed to connect and inspire. Through these initiatives, we hope to nurture a love and appreciation for our natural world and inspire young people to take positive action to protect it.

In Summary

Plastic Free North Devon’s efforts depend on continued community engagement and participation. Everyone has a role to play in reducing plastic waste and protecting our planet.

To get involved with PFND or to learn more, you can view their website and reach out to them directly here [email protected] and join the movement to create a sustainable future.

As hinted earlier, if you’re in the area, why not check their events page and take the family out for a beach clean? See their events page for the latest events.

You can also follow them on Instagram here

Author Matt Ogborne
Matt Ogborne
About the Author

Welcome to! I’m Matt, a seasoned explorer and avid fan of Bideford and the broader North Devon area. With over a decade of consistent family visits, virtually every weekend, I’ve immersed myself in the rich history and vibrant culture Bideford & North Devon.

On this site, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge amassed from my adventures here. From in-depth local guides to engaging blog posts about Bideford. Whether you’re looking for recommendations on things to do or guidance on where to stay we have you covered. Join me as we delve into the heart of Bideford, North Devon – a town that’s more than just a destination, but an experience waiting to be discovered.

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