COMMUNITY beach cleans, strategies to reduce single-use plastics and education for young people has led Milford to be awarded Plastic Free Communities status by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).
The accolade, which includes a wooden plaque to be displayed in the parish office, recognises the work undertaken locally by charities, businesses and community groups to tackle the impact of throwaway plastics.
Plastic-free Milford co-ordinator and assistant parish clerk Sarah Pitt first registered with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement last year.
Since then the parish council has worked with village organisations and businesses to launch a community-led steering group.
It has also instigated an SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme and seek pledges from local businesses, organisations and community groups to minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use and spread the word about the project.
Sarah said: “We have had huge support from Milford’s businesses as well as vital support from Plastic Free Lymington Group which really helped kick-start our initiative.
“We have held several beach cleans this year and many local businesses have actively engaged with campaign, making simple swaps away from single-use plastic items to more sustainable alternatives.
“The primary school has also got on board as well as local Scouts, Guides and Brownie groups.
“We are really proud of everyone in Milford for pulling together and helping achieve this important status. Of course, the village isn’t yet completely plastic free but this is a significant first step and we aim to build on this achievement to ensure the parish has a sustainable future.”
The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network was set up to empower communities to kickstart local grassroots action, which can then be built on.
Sarah added: “We are really keen, with the festive season upon us, that everyone thinks about what they are buying this year and considers making some changes to be more sustainable where they can.
“Shopping locally can make a huge difference to everyone in our community in lots of ways.”
Surfers Against Sewage communities project officer Rachel Yates said: “It’s great to see the work that Milford-on-Sea has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.
“We have over 600 communities across the UK working to reduce single-use plastic and the impact it has on our environment.
“Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit and system changes we need to see.”