ONE effect of lock-down was that nature had a respite from humans, with more wildlife, louder bird song and cleaner air.

Unfortunately, as we ventured back out many of these gains disappeared. It even seemed there was more traffic than before.

There was also a sharp increase in litter, not just plastic bottles, bags and wrappers, but also discarded PPE such as face masks.

Supermarkets slipped back into wrapping everything in plastic again, even although evidence shows the virus is retained more on wrapped produce than on loose fruit and veg.

Keep Britain Tidy (www.keepbritaintidy.org), The Marine Conservation Society (www.mcsuk.org) and Surfers Against Sewage (www.sas.org.uk) are all now campaigning to reverse these trends.

Individually, there is a lot you can do from making personal choices in what you buy and how you recycle to joining one of the above organisations.

Yeovil Express:

Many of us are now doing our own litter picking. This is even more important like mass Beach Cleans no longer allowed.

Another way to make change happen is to get your town or village ‘Plastic Free Community’ status.

This Surfers Against Sewage scheme involves setting up a steering group and working with councils, businesses, community groups and schools to begin the journey away from single-use plastic.

You can find out more at www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-communities.

In Somerset, Burnham, Highbridge, Frome and Wells have achieved the award and others are on the road to certification. Plastic Free Minehead, for instance (with the help of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s CIM-funded Somerset Brilliant Coast Project) is about to seek certification after three years of campaigning, beach cleans and fundraising.

It even had a mass unwrap at Tesco Minehead just before lockdown, organised with the store’s permission.

Plastic Free Watchet also set up back in January.

For information on both campaigns, email mark.ward@somersetwildlife.org or visit www.facebook.com/plasticfreeminehead.

Somerset Waste Partnership also has lots more information about plastic at: https://www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/act-on-plastics/

Finally, remember that many of the seemingly greener alternatives to plastic often have similar carbon footprints and issues around disposal.

If you are unsure, a good mantra is: Refuse, reuse, reduce, recycle.

MARK WARD

Somerset Wildlife Trust (Somerset's Brilliant Coast project manager)

Plastic Free Minehead (Admin)