A special month-long event will celebrate East Devon’s volunteers who go above and beyond to make a difference to the environment.

This is the first time an event of this sort has been held by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to recognise all the amazing projects happening on our doorsteps right now – from the litter pickers who are out in all weathers to the dedicated volunteers who plant trees and make a difference to improving the wonderful wildlife habitats across the district.

These are just a handful of events planned in June, by our community groups:

Beach Cleans by Plastic Free Exmouth

Every Sunday, starting 8.30am – just turn up at the Orcombe Point end of the beach to take part. This year they have collected more than 150kg of rubbish from Exmouth beach.

EDDC’s Plastic Free Challenge:

Monday, 6 June to Sunday 12 June - It is impossible to live plastic free but for ONE week, East Devon residents are being challenged to see if you can make ‘just one swap’.

You could:

  • Buy condiments in glass rather than plastic
  • Buy a big bag of crisps or yoghurt instead of smaller bags/pots
  • Buy loose fruit, vegetables and bread
  • Take some Tupperware and go have a look at your refill or zero waste shop – nuts, spices and eco cleaning products are usually cheaper!

When the challenge ends, tell EDDC what you thought about the week on Facebook and be in for a chance of WINNING one of three plastic-free baskets. What did you find easy, what was hard, has anything stuck? Did you find any products cheaper than your usual shop?

East Devon Repair Cafes at Axminster and Sidmouth

Saturday, 11 June ­­– 10am until 1pm at the Guidhall in Axminster.

Saturday, 25 June ­– 10am until 1pm Sidmouth Youth Centre, Manstone Lane.

Sidmouth Arboretum guided tree walks

Friday, June 10, 17 and 24 – starting at 10.30am outside Sidmouth Museum – £2.50 per person. Book your place through the website www.sidmoutharboretum.org.uk.

Community Litter Pick by Plastic Free Axminster

Wednesday, 15 June – meeting at Pippins Community Centre – visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/plasticfreeaxminster for more information.

Eco Festival at Exmouth

Saturday, 18 June – There will be music and a silent cinema on the lawn area at Sideshore.

A three day sustainability workshop is also being held for local school children. 

Visit https://www.facebook.com/plasticfreeexmouthuk for more information.

Vegan Eco-Market at Exmouth

Sunday 26 June - explore a variety of sustainable yummy vegan foods and shopping opportunities, held on the top deck of Ocean between 10am and 4.30pm.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/exmouthveganmarket/ for more information.

Wild East Devon:

Wednesday 1 June - Crafts and wildlife discovery at Honiton Bottom Nature Reserve between 10am and 12pm. Visit https://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/wildeastdevon/wild-east-devon-events/may-2022/crafts-and-creatures-at-honiton-bottom for more information.

Visit EDDC’s special new webpage with more information about all the events it hopes residents will support: www.eastdevon.gov.uk/together

30-days Wild by The Wildlife Trusts

Sign up on the website to be sent a pack of fun ‘connect back with nature’ activities: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/30dayswild

Open Farm Sunday

Tuesday, 12 June - East Devon farmers will open their doors and give residents a sneak peek behind the scenes, to see tractors, animals and more – visit https://farmsunday.org/ for more information.

EDDC's work so far:

As part of East Devon Together month, EDDC is celebrating all the work which has been undertaken, by the authority, to tackle the climate emergency.

This includes:

The Lower Otter Restoration Project

This £15million project is helping a river valley adapt to climate change and create an internationally important wildlife reserve, using nature based solutions instead of hard engineering – the joint scheme is being overseen by EDDC, Environment Agency, local landowner Clinton Devon Estates, and the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.

More wildflower meadows:

More than 97 per cent of wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s – this has had a drastic effect on our environment. EDDC are now committed to reclaiming these important areas, like at Salterton Road, in Exmouth – where the grass verge has been sown with a 5,000 metre squared wildflower meadow. By mowing less EDDC is also cutting carbon emissions by more than 50 per cent.

Planting and weedkillers:

EDDC are also now focused on perennial planting and are exploring alternatives to harmful weed killers.  

Electric charging points:

The authority has plans to install 18 electric car charging points across 10 East Devon car parks by the end of the year, after a global shortage delayed works.

Upgrading and decarbonising council homes:

EDDC has installed 102 air source heat pumps and has plans to upgrade 52 more council properties, to make the properties more efficient and comfortable.

Events for supported accommodation residents to save money on energy bills

During June, supported accommodation tenants in East Devon will be able to attend three events, being held with the help of Exeter Community Energy. Residents will be able to learn how to save money on their energy bills. Contact your mobile support officer to book.

Helping council staff to reduce carbon footprints:

The council employs more than 500 members of staff – it is now using the positive adjustments, it made during lockdown, to allow staff to reduce their carbon footprints while also providing the best service it can for residents – like hybrid working.

This award-winning nature reserve recently saw the arrival of protected slow worm – the world’s longest living legless lizard. It is also the home of some of Devon’s rarest plants.

Community funding and advice:

EDDC is actively supporting communities to upgrade their building and is supporting their projects through various schemes – including the Rural Community Building Fund and through ‘Meet the Funder’ events which teach organisations and groups how to apply for funding.

Special column by EDDC's Councillor Marianne Rixson, EDDC’s portfolio holder for climate action and emergency response:

In 2019, as a council we declared a climate emergency with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2040.  We set out how we intend to tackle this in EDDC’s Climate Change Action Plan and Strategy.

However, we can’t do it alone.   This is is why it is so important that our residents join in with initiatives like Plastic Free Week (6-12 June). We need everyone to get involved, every small step is a step in the right direction to lessen the impact on future generations. We don’t need a few people doing it perfectly, but millions taking action collectively across the UK can and will make a real difference.

Our role as a council is to deal with the big stuff, while being supported by our residents who can make small changes – working from the ground up and the top down, all in the same direction.

There are no eco-angels – it is just about everyone trying to make a difference!

East Devon Together is another strand of the work we have been undertaking in Climate Action.  There will be a series of events in June to celebrate the vital role that local groups play in our communities. Volunteers undertake activities as diverse as monitoring river quality, organising beach cleans, planning nature walks and undertaking balsam bashing (to name but a few).

I took part in the Big Plastic Count between 16-22nd May and have used carbon footprint calculators to understand how I can reduce my carbon footprint.  For example, I use refill shops, always carry a basket with me for groceries, drive less and grow some of my own food without resorting to pesticides.

We can all take simple measures to help with regard to climate action:  for example, collectively, we could help biodiversity by retaining hedgerows as wildlife corridors and habitat instead of putting up woven fencing.  

Or stop mowing your lawn between May and September.  Instead of being wildlife deserts, this would allow wildflowers to flourish, thereby providing food for insects.  It is sobering to learn that, in the UK, we have lost 97 per cent of wildflower meadows.  A lawn which resembles a bowling green may look neat but does not provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies.  Yet, according to WWF, ’75 per cent of leading global crops depend on animal pollination’.  On 25th May, it was reported by Butterfly Conservation that half of our butterflies are on the Red List.  British bees are also in trouble:  FoE report that 35 UK bee species are ‘under threat of extinction, and all species face serious threats’.  With pesticides being a key threat to pollinating insects, our insects need all the help they can get.

As a council, we have reduced mowing in some areas to help redress the balance where we can and have put up Life on the Verge signs and Blue Hearts on designated sites.  Unfortunately, some errors have been made but please bear with us as we are trying to get this right.

Meanwhile, please support the events being showcased as part of East Devon Together.  These range from energy advice clinics to repair cafe events, from nature walks to beach cleans and river monitoring.  Why not get involved and form new friendships?