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‘I want to inspire others’ - Wildlife Gadget Man Jason Alexander on turning Suffolk green

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:46 18 September 2020

Jason has urged people to take part due to cigarette butts being the 'most common' form of pollution Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Jason has urged people to take part due to cigarette butts being the 'most common' form of pollution Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Ipswich environmental activist Jason Alexander is hoping people emerge from coronavirus lockdown with a fresh outlook on their impact on wildlife - and is campaigning to make it happen.

The 'Wildlife Gadget Man' with some of the face masks he picked up off the floor Picture: JASON ALEXANDERThe 'Wildlife Gadget Man' with some of the face masks he picked up off the floor Picture: JASON ALEXANDER

Mr Alexander, an environmental activist from Ipswich, has become well-known in Suffolk as the ‘Wildlife Gadget Man’, spending the last decade and a half devising inventive creations aimed at preserving the environment and the creatures that call it home.

He has gathered a significant following on social media, where he shares his latest creations.

Mr Alexander dedicated his time during lockdown to ensuring people were aware of their impact on the planet - but fears many are becoming “complacent” and “falling into old habits” after a surge in reports of litter when restrictions began to be lifted.

He said: “I shared lots of things during the lockdown.

Jason shared sunflower seeds with his neighbours during the coronavirus lockdown  Picture: JASON ALEXANDERJason shared sunflower seeds with his neighbours during the coronavirus lockdown Picture: JASON ALEXANDER

“I hope people realise that, as a community and neighbours, we can come together and do the right thing. I hope we can use the new bonds we have created for good.

“As time goes on, people are getting complacent and falling into old habits. On my exercise, I kept seeing masks and wet wipes on the floor.

“We are heading in the wrong direction - the only way we can change is if we all pull together.”

Mr Alexander has launched numerous campaigns over the years where he has challenged his neighbours to change their habits and become more aware of their impact on the earth.

Jason after collecting a bucket full of wet wipes from under the Orwell Bridge  Picture: JASON ALEXANDERJason after collecting a bucket full of wet wipes from under the Orwell Bridge Picture: JASON ALEXANDER

His most recent endeavour is Blitz the Butt Week, where he and an army of volunteers have taken to the streets to pick up as many discarded smoking filters as possible.

Describing them as the “most common” form of pollution, Mr Alexander said he was keen to tackle the issue as cigarette butts pose a risk to birds and small animals, who can mistake them for food.

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Blitz the Butt Week started off as a single-day event, but was extended to seven days after the success of the 2019 edition - where 200 volunteers picked up an estimated 120,000 filters.

The cigarette butts collected during the week will be sent to Irish firm Filtracycle, who will recycle as many as possible into more commonly-used everyday items, such as sunglasses.

Mr Alexander has set himself the mammoth target of picking up one million cigarette butts, having gathered an estimated 730,000 since beginning the challenge in 2018.

But cigarette butts are not the sole target of Mr Alexander’s eco-activism.

At the start of the lockdown, he launched a series of weekly guides aimed at keeping families entertained in their gardens while they were at home.

Included in the guides were instructions on how to turn household items into nature-friendly equipment, such as making a bird feeder out of a tomato ketchup bottle or an outdoor water feature using buckets and bowls.

Noting how small acts can still bring a smile to people’s faces, Mr Alexander also set out to deliver sunflower seeds to his neighbours in April.

When some of the lockdown restrictions began to be lifted at the start of the summer, many Suffolk residents voiced their anger after apparent surges in litter issues throughout the county - with takeaway food packaging a common find.

Hitting out a “feral few” who were spoiling some of the county’s beauty spots, Mr Alexander questioned the mentality of those who litter when bins are widespread.

But he hopes people will have used the time they spent at home as a way to reflect on their lifestyle, believing the community bonds that were created will be strengthened in the fight to protect the planet.

Mr Alexander said: “I think anything is possible. We need to look back over the last six months as they showed how quickly we can pull together when the stakes are high enough.

“As neighbourhoods and friends, we can all make massive changes.

“I don’t want to tell anyone what to do - but I want to inspire others.”


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