Pollution on a plate served up by Cornwall’s litter heroes

Shoppers in Truro have been invited to sit down for a meal of plastic litter as part of a campaign to highlight marine pollution.

The dishes included spaghetti made of old rope and plastic bottle tops, a fry-up breakfast of plastic bags, Smarties box lids and cigarette lighter casings and sushi created from Lego, elastic bands and microplastic.

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Created by Delia Webb from Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition, the meals were all made from litter collected from Cornwall’s beaches with some items believed to be more than 50 years old.

The unusual dishes were presented to shoppers at Lemon Street Market in Truro and their reactions filmed:

Cornwall Council and Clean Cornwall are celebrating the efforts of Cornwall’s litter heroes and their tireless work to create a #LitterlessCornwall.

It comes at the start of Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean running until April 23 and aimed at getting everyone to do more to keep their local areas clean.

Young siblings Arthur and Layla Edwards were shocked to be presented with their pizza made of rubber and polystyrene and topped with tyres from a toy car.

Their mum Saskia Bregazzi said: “I think this will make them think about the plastic that we find on beaches. Putting litter in the form of actual food really makes you think about the effects of pollution.”

Delia Webb from Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition said: “Would you be tempted to eat a meal made out of plastic rubbish? Probably not – and yet this is the toxic menu facing our marine creatures, fish and sea-birds each and every day. If they are accidentally ingesting this pollution, then by default so are humans that consume those animals.

“Volunteers from the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition are working hard not only to pick up plastic pollution from Cornwall’s countryside and coast, but also to raise awareness of the need to drastically cut the consumption of single-use and non-essential plastics. Picking up litter and recycling are great ways of helping our planet and wildlife. However, to really solve this global issue we all need to refuse, reduce, and reuse first, then recycle as the last resort.”

Cornwall Council is calling on everyone to do their bit to keep their communities tidy and make a difference as part of the #LitterlessCornwall campaign.

Sue James, Cornwall Council’s cabinet portfolio holder for the environment and public protection, said: "The dishes of litter made by Delia Webb, of Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition, give the stark message that littering is not only destroying the beauty of our environment but also harming wildlife that eat it and then possibly us.

“Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean is a great way to encourage us to tackle litter together; each doing our little bit to create a litterless Cornwall.

“The best way to get involved in community litter picks is to find an event on the Clean Cornwall website. If starting your own event then register with Clean Cornwall who can help you get more people involved.”

The full ingredients of the dishes of litter are below:

Pizza - Dough made from rubber and polystyrene. Pizza topping is a balloon, onions are milk bottle scraps, olives are tyres from a toy car. Salad is balloons and plastic poppy stems and flowers from artificial wreaths

Flotsam Flurry ice cream - Polystyrene packaging, cavity wall insulation, surf boards, fishing floats. The sprinkles are fragments of plastic that have broken down.

Fried breakfast – Egg white is a plastic carrier bag, yoke is a yellow ball chopped in half, sausages are cigarette lighter and gunshot casings, bacon is rubber bales that are believed to be from a ship in the 1930s. The ship was transporting rubber from India to be made into shoe soles and other items. Baked beans are Smarties lids from the 1960s and '70s featuring imperial measurements. Tomatoes are poppy key rings.

Fish and chips – The fish are fishing lures that have been lost or discarded at sea, the mushy peas are green fishing line, the beads are used on lures and fishing line. The chips are polystyrene foam from long-line fishing gear.

Sushi – The seaweed is marine-themed Lego that came from the Tokyo Express container spill 22 years ago. The sushi is wrapped in green plastic bags for seaweed and tied with orange monofilament fishing line. The rice is made of biomedia filters from water treatment systems.

Pasta – The spaghetti is all kinds of different rope, mostly ghost fishing gear. The tomatoes are water and coke bottle tops. The salad leaves are artificial green leaves used in butchers’ window displays, probably spilled from a container ship.

As well as Delia Webb from Cornwall Plastic Pollution Coalition, this project was supported by Ruth Gripper from Clean Cornwall, Kirsty Edwards of Cornwall Plastic Pollution Coalition and Plastic Free Falmouth, John Page of Cornwall Plastic Pollution Coalition and Friends of St Andrews Wetland Reserve and Cornwall Council’s Waste and Recycling Team.

If you know a litter hero in your community who deserves a big thank you, tell us on Facebook using the #LitterHeroes hashtag or email corpcomm@cornwall.gov.uk. You can nominate an individual or group. 

To find out about litter picks in different areas or to register a new litter pick go to Clean Cornwall.