Sun, 23 Feb 2020
MEET Florence, the nine-year-old who is calling on West Berkshire Council to “do more” to help tackle the climate crisis.
The youngster, a Year 5 pupil at Yattendon Primary School, has been praised for writing a letter to her local authority urging it to collect and recycle a wider range of plastics.
In her letter, she says: “I am writing to say that I would like you to change what you collect from my house.
“As you probably know, pollution is a massive issue and I really want to do my bit to contribute.
“Firstly, I would like to make you aware that thousands of sea life dies because of the 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean!
“Secondly, I would appreciate if you collect a wider range of recycling to help me change the devastating impact we are making on our seas.
“Other councils recycle so much more.”
However, she forgot to include one crucial piece of information on the letter – her address.
The council posted a copy of the letter on its Twitter and Facebook pages, asking the public to help find Florence so it could respond to her directly.
The posts were widely shared and, such is the power of social media, she was tracked down in a matter of hours.
Florence’s mother, Rachel Jones, said: “We’ve been talking a lot at home about recycling and they cover green issues at school thoroughly now.
“We have only recently realised that West Berkshire Council collects far less of our plastics than we had assumed – only plastic bottles minus the lids.
“She came back from school one day and said ‘I’m writing a letter’.
“I asked who to and she just said ‘you’ll see’.
“The next thing I know, someone I know tagged me in the council’s Facebook post and said ‘is this your Florence?”.
Florence was inspired to write the letter after speaking to her grandfather, who was visiting from Devon.
After a discussion about recycling, he mentioned how he can leave all types of plastic out for his kerbside collection.
West Berkshire Council does not currently recycle plastic pots, tubs and trays (PTTs).
Earlier this year it rejected a petition, signed by 2,000 people, calling on it to recycle a wider range of plastics.
Conservative members expressed concern that not all PTTs that were collected ended up being recycled and that some were dumped overseas.
Mrs Jones added: “Her generation is very sensitive to their environmental impact.
“I think they are aware that we are facing a climate emergency and that finding solutions is all our responsibility.
“Florence always takes her snacks and lunch into school in beeswax wraps and brown paper bags instead of cling film and also loves gardening and growing vegetables for us to enjoy.”
Florence is also inspiring the rest of her family to help the environment and live a greener lifestyle .
Mrs Jones said: “We are starting to create our own compost and reducing our use of packaging by filling up our own containers of dried food and visiting markets.
“We are also looking at more natural toiletries with no or recyclable packaging.
“So we are trying really hard to do our bit, but we are aware there is still so much more we could be doing.”
Many responded to the council’s post with praise, with one person, Waheeda Soomro, saying: “I’m with Florence on this, there is definitely more we could and should be doing. Be more Florence.”
Asked what she thought of the reaction, Mrs Jones said: “We’ve been a bit blown away really, we weren’t expecting it at all.”
And what does Florence think of her new-found fame?
“She’s just taking it all in her stride really,” said Mrs Jones.
“She’s a pretty laidback person.”
Despite being so keen to find Florence, the council has not yet provided her with a response to her letter.