'Let's focus on what we can change' - community group Eco Ely raise awareness of environmental issues, sustainability and recycling
PUBLISHED: 15:19 27 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:27 30 September 2019
"It hit me how much more we could be doing and how small changes can make a real difference in the world."
These are the words of Hayley Ellis who created community group Eco Ely that aims to raise awareness of environmental issues, sustainability and recycling.
The group has seen more than 2000 people in East Cambridgeshire join forces to take action in their homes and businesses.
Step-mum Hayley, 34, was keen to get people to share her vision after hearing about a TerraCycle scheme, where anything can be recycled.
Hayley explained: "I started it as a Facebook group four months ago and now we have more than 2600 members.
"I heard about TerraCycle and it got me wondering what else we could be recycling.
"My aim is to help the community learn more about what they can or cannot recycle in their area.
"It's about making a pledge about what they could be doing differently.
"Ultimately it starts in the shops with us buying products with less packaging, then people learning about what can or cannot go into bins."
But environmental issues weren't always at the forefront of Hayley's mind.
"I was very much into fast food and fast fashion and if I didn't know what to do with something then I would just put it in a black bin," she added.
"This has been a complete lifestyle change.
"On the Eco Ely group there is no such thing as a silly question; we want people to ask whenever they are not sure about something."
Eco Ely encourages businesses to get on board by putting up recycling posters in the office, turning off lights and computers at the end of day, using less heat in winter and providing a habitat for wildlife in any outdoor spaces.
Each business can create their own policy too, by learning more about how they create waste, how they use water and how employees travel to work.
"We want businesses to take the pledge," Hayley said.
"It can start with something small, it is about remembering that we can always do better.
"We want people to refuse, reduce and reuse.
"Let's focus on what we can change and help each other."
Steve Ellis, an electrician, was one of the first businesses to sign up to the Eco Ely pledge.
"I wanted to make a difference and cut down on our carbon footprint," he said.
"We recycle all our cardboard and plastics and all the fittings we install are LED.
"We also want to get electrical charge points and go paperless where possible."
Eco Ely is also working with East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) to help compile an A-Z list of recycling.
Hayley joined fellow member Susannah Webb and ECDC waste minimisation officer Darren Hughes to promote recycling week at Ely Market Place yesterday (September 26).
A waste dinosaur 'Binosaurus" - made out of plastic bottles by Wisbech artist Fred White - was also on display.
Mr Hughes said: "We want to raise awareness so that people know what they are putting into their bins.
"We want the public to know about what they can recycle in their green and blue bins and other things they can do to avoid producing so much waste.
"The Binosaurus is set to go into schools to so that children can see that recycling it is another way waste can be used again."
It comes as a new scheme which will see children learn about the importance of recycling has been launched by ECDC.
The waste team is going on tour over the next two-and-a-half months and will be visiting numerous primary schools to highlight why recycling should be on everyone's radar.
ECDC's recycling superhero, Michael, will also be encouraging children to recycle and create their own bird feeders out of old drinks cartons to take home and put in their gardens.
Recycling week is continuing until Sunday (September 29).
To find out more about Eco Ely find them on social media or contact Hayley at Hayley@ecoely.uk or call 07793671728 or visit www.ecoely.uk