Love Our Rother 2024

This year our theme was ‘Pollution to Solution’ with experts on hand to answer questions and provide information.

Local organisations brought stands and activities promoting reuse, refill and repair, composting, zero waste strategies, and alternative transport, showing ways we can reduce our impact on the environment and live more sustainably.

Groups at the event included:
– Strandliners (and Young Strandliners)
– Rother District Council
– Rother Voluntary Action
– Community Compost Solutions
– Rye Community Garden
– The Kind Table
– RSPCA Mallydams Wood
– Sussex Greenways
– Rother Environmental Group
– The Bucket & Spade Library
– Three Rivers Project (new project being launched focusing on communities, river health and health and wellbeing along the rivers Rother, Brede and Tillingham).
– The Rother Green Party kindly served the refreshments

Gonzalo Alvarez, Andy Dinsdale and Cllr Mrs Vikki Cook

The event was opened by Gonzalo Alvarez, Chair of the United Nations Association Climate and Oceans and Councillor Mrs Vikki Cook, leader of Rother District Council.

And of course, Strandliners are always keen to promote citizen science, engaging with people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Our wonderful volunteers had shown some love for their environment by collecting rubbish from a 500-metre stretch of one bank of the River Rother on a very wet Valentine’s Day. This was brought to the Community Centre for a brand audit survey during the event to raise awareness of environmental pollution.

The rubbish was sorted into different categories, identified, and recorded by brand, item, type of plastic and whether single or multilayer. The more data we collect about environmental pollution, the more chance we have to stop it at source, and a brand audit provides the most data.

We removed nearly 50 kg of rubbish from the banks of the Rother, and identified over 1,000 pieces, 87% of which were plastic. You can see the ‘Litter DNA’ below. Many were small plastic pieces, resulting in a high proportion in the ‘other’ category.

These results will be sent to Break Free From Plastic or Preventing Plastic Pollution as evidence to lobby for change. It is only through evidence that we have measures such as the plastic bag tax and ban on certain single-use plastic items.  We also use our data to respond to government consultations, including the deposit return scheme, for which our volunteers picked up and recorded over 4,000 bottles and cans found polluting their local areas!

The success of the day was the networking and communication between visitors and groups. Talking to people as they left the event, they expressed how much they had learnt and how they wanted to get involved.

Comments included:
“Fantastic event – great to see such a variety of stalls and like-minded organisations.”
“Very good to network with all of these groups. I’d love to see more of these connecting events.”
“Lovely event to engage communities – made our day!”

About our poster

Our poster featuring grey seals has been designed by local artist Peter Quinnell. We have chosen seals as we have a local colony, and they can often be seen on our beaches or close to shore, or even swimming up and down the River Rother. There are around 160,000 grey seals in the UK, 40% of the global population. Their name in Latin, Halichoerus grypus, means (rather unflatteringly) hook-nosed sea pig. Grey seals were the first mammals be protected by modern legislation: the Grey Seals Protection Act of 1914. Today, they are protected by the Conservation of Seals Act (1970).

Grey seals at Rye Harbour (Image: Rye News)

The common or harbour seal, is smaller and less common. You can download a guide here to help tell the difference between them. Grey seals often haul out onto the beach to rest after feeding, and are vulnerable to disturbance, so please keep your distance if you see one, and keep dogs on a lead when seals are nearby. .