IT goes without saying that climate change is important now more than ever.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken centre stage for the past year, meaning solving the climate change crisis was pushed out of the spotlight.

But the work goes on as does the endeavour to cut down on single-use plastic.

Feering has become the first place in Essex to achieve a plastic-free status after a campaign launched by a resident.

The village has joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way to tackle throw away plastic.

Marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) awarded the accolade to the village in recognition of the work residents have done to reduce the impact of single-use plastic on the environment after a campaign launched by Danielle Levart.

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Danielle said she is “overwhelmed” with residents’ efforts after she came up with the idea last year after becoming concerned about the effects on the environment.

From there the campaign evolved and now everyone in the village is doing their bit to help.

Danielle said: “I am delighted that Feering has become the first area in Essex to gain recognition. Of course, Feering is not yet completely plastic-free.

“This achievement is the first step in our ongoing journey, and I have been truly inspired by the support the community has shown towards that aim.

Laura Atkinson (left) and Karen Welsh of Feering Community Centre

Laura Atkinson (left) and Karen Welsh of Feering Community Centre

“It just goes to show how every one of us can really make a difference to reduce our impact on the environment and I hope that our work will encourage other communities to do the same”.

Businesses and volunteers across the district have joined in the effort.

Kelvedon and Feering Cricket Club and Prested Hall have both replaced disposable items, such as plastic straws, bottles, and cups, with more environmentally-friendly options.

Organisations such as Feering Rainbows and the community centre have joined Feering Parish Council in a pledge to reduce their single-use plastic.

And volunteers have participated in litter picks and attended fairs to highlight the impact plastics have on the environment and demonstrate simple swaps which can be made to reduce the amount of plastic coming into our homes.

Parish councillor Christa Dobson said: “I am inspired by Danielle’s commitment to this cause.

“It is also one close to my heart.

“The issue of single-use plastic has been highlighted in recent months by the amount of litter that covers our road network, pavements and open spaces.

“Although, like many villages, we now have an army of litter picking volunteers, as a community we need to do our bit to change our thinking and our habits.

“By organisations and businesses getting involved, I am sure the message will start to reach the wider community and beyond.”

SAS works with communities to put together a five-point plan to reduce single-use plastic.

The objectives include setting up a community-led steering group, getting council commitment and working with businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

Using this plan they aim to empower communities to kick-start action, which can then be built on.

Across the country there are hundreds of communities who maintain a plastic free status and hundreds more are in progress.

Plastic-free communities project manager Rachel Yates said: “It’s great to see the work that Feering has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.”