We are facing challenging times and as, day by day, the Corona virus takes more of a hold in the UK we are all facing tough decisions. Should we attend an event? Should I visit an elderly relative? What happens if the UK does eventually decide to lock down – how will I work? Will we have enough food?
Add to that the growing amount of work being called off, holiday bookings cancelled and events on hold – locals and businesses are rightly feeling worried.
It’s been shocking to see supermarket shelves emptying and items fought over, and this isn’t just something that’s happening elsewhere. This is happening in our town. People have told us of being elbowed or trollied out of the way in the supermarket … or of feeling forced into buying supplies and fuelling the problem, as the shelves empty in front of them. Then there are those who don’t have the income to stock up in advance. Some of us shop week-to-week, day-to-day even, as money becomes available. What are those people to do when they get to the store and those who could afford it have wiped out all stock?
There is so much that Corona is bringing to light. Negatively; the weakness of our current system, the selfishness of consumerism and the ease with which we are divided and whipped up by social media, ‘news’ and a seemingly endless flow of confusing and sensationalist information.
Positively (and this is the real point that we are getting too!): amazing community spirit as groups are set up to support vulnerable neighbours, families pull together to make sure their elder members are protected and a genuine desire to protect and support our town and its people through these next few weeks and months. And we are blessed to live in a part of the world where we can escape to the beach or the coast and take a deep, cleansing, calming breathe of sea air to soothe and rebalance.
Here at Plastic Free PZ we are monitoring the situation as it unfolds and we are following guidance from those in the know, as and when it is released.
We have no indoor events planned ourselves and those that we are attending we will take advice and respect decisions from organisers as to whether those events go ahead or not.
In terms of our beach cleans – as yet these are still going ahead. They are held outside and come with freshly washed gloves and plenty of anti-bac gel … alongside a new one-metre rule and a request that anyone who thinks they could be carrying the virus or is vulnerable to it, comes along another time. We feel right now that, while we are not being told to self isolate, it is more important than ever to get out in the natural environment with other people and take part in something positive. **SEE UPDATE **
In terms of Refill and Reuse – advice right now is that there is no reason not to continue all the great work we as individuals and businesses have been doing to reduce our environmental impact in the town. If you think about it, refill coffee and water do not pose any greater threat than using disposable items or other social interactions. Plastic wrapped food such as fruit and veg has just as much chance of being touched in the shop as loose fruit and veg … and washing at home is always recommended for all fruit and veg, regardless of how it is bought.
Public Health England have been asked directly about the threat from refill, and said the message is clear that regular hand washing with soap for 20 seconds is the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus.
We’d encourage everyone to support the town centre and shop local, more than ever. The supermarkets will survive a downturn. Our town centre grocers, butchers, bakers and other food producers do not have that multi-million pound, government and industry backing. They are just local families trying to make a living, like the rest of us. Interestingly, town centre shops are managing the ‘panic buying’ well and as far as we know, no supplies have run out. Bear in mind a lot of these local businesses will source as much as they can locally, so aren’t so dependent on global (and polluting) supply chains. The shop local message goes for all of our locally owned businesses; clothes shops, book shops, cafes, hairdressers … whatever service/goods they’re providing, it’s vital we support them at this difficult time.
More than anything, this is a massive opportunity to do things differently. To bring it back to community, look after each other, source things locally and seasonally and cut our impact. We may be forced to … so why not get ahead of the curve and show how a town can rise above and take a caring, collaborative and whole-community approach.
If you need help or can offer help, check out this independent Facebook page linking people up in the town. There are also social media posts doing the rounds offering meals and shopping, but please be careful and put safety first. While we don’t know the full ins and outs of the Covid-19 Mutual Aid Page and can’t endorse it, it makes sense to arrange help through monitored pages. Or why not just pick up the phone?
Things are changing all the time. We will share relevant Corona Virus info and updates on our social media channels as we all move through this together. We will also continue to champion our local businesses and those taking action on single-use, as well as sharing tips and advice, actions you can take to help bring about change and other positive plastic-free moves. We all need an oasis sometimes and if pictures of plastic free loveliness and our gorgeous coastline provide an escape from the general feed of Corona related posts, we’re happy to oblige!
Let’s look after each other, refrain from panic buying, support local and think about how we can take as many positives from this as we can, to continue the brilliant work our town does to create better ways of being and living.
**UPDATE_March 18th 2020**
Our Big Spring Beach Cleans are postponed due to the current situation with Corona Virus. Here’s the statement from SAS – look out for our #minibeachclean posts and #isolationbeachclean tips. #BlueMind and positive #CommunityAction are key in times like this ?
STATEMENT: Here at Surfers Against Sewage, our theory of change has always been based on mobilisation and empowerment of individuals and communities through positive action. We also have a duty of care to safeguard our volunteers and all those in our wider communities.
Given the current coronavirus pandemic, we want to ensure that all our supporters and volunteers are as safe as possible. With this is mind, and with a heavy heart, we announce that we will be postponing the Big Spring Beach Clean and Brand Audit, moving all our large-scale cleaning and citizen science operations back to the Autumn Beach Clean in October.
In the meantime, however, we would like to take this time to direct you to our #MiniBeachClean campaign (https://www.sas.org.uk/our-…/beach-cleans/mini-beach-cleans/) allowing you to conduct your own #IsolationBeachClean and continue to fight for a healthy ocean with us.
We are continuing to innovate and enhance all of our community campaigns and projects, which will evolve during these challenging times. We look forward to delivering these with your involvement and support across 2020 and beyond. We have some exciting new campaign plans coming up later this year
Remember to stay safe out there and look after each other.
United for the ocean.