Wed, 08 May 2019
CONCERNS about the environment and the impact that our lifestyle has had and is continuing to have is an ongoing battle. David Attenborough highlighted the problem of plastics in the ocean in Blue Planet, illustrating the devastating impact on wildlife and nature.
While the Green Party has long campaigned on environmental issues, there is a sea change among the general public and a greater desire to take action – the recent series of walkouts by school sixth form pupils expressing their concern for the lack of action over climate change was a prime example.
This awareness is mirrored in commercial businesses, now bending over backwards to show how eco-friendly they are and the recycling, packaging and other community initiatives they are instigating.
The government took action against plastic bags when they introduced a 5p charge in 2015 and that has dramatically reduced the amount of bags we use for shopping – down from 7.9 billion bags in 2014, to 1.75 billion in 2017-18.
The takeaway coffee and food market is also under pressure to provide recyclable cups and food containers. The larger chains already offer a money-off incentive if you take your own cup for a takeaway, but there is still much more to do.
Smaller, independent business seem to be ahead of the game in this area, and most smaller cafés now have wooden utensils, no plastic straws and recyclable cups.
One local group that is leading the way in how to recycle responsibly and what to do with all the waste that each household builds up is based in Thatcham.
Jenny Kirby set up a Facebook page, Thatcham & Newbury plastic free, recycling & zero waste UK, last June and the group already has more than 2,000 members sharing ideas on how to reduce waste.
Jenny also started Thatcham Refillable in September, which she and her husband run from their home and markets.
They supply household cleaning products in customers’ own bottles.
The products come in 20l containers, which are refilled and they are all vegan and biodegradable – from laundry liquid, fabric conditioner, multi-surface cleaner, glass cleaner, vinegar, washing up liquid, toilet cleaner and liquid hand soap, to shampoo and conditioner.
Jenny says: “We decided to set up a pop-up shop from our home, thinking that we might get a few people – but they were queueing round the corner, so we realised how keen people were to get involved.”
Jenny and her group ran another pop-up event in Thatcham Baptist Church at the end of January. The space was donated for free by the church and people queued for up to an hour to top-up their cleaning products ethically at the zero waste shop. Alongside the Thatcham Refillable stall, Scoop Zero Waste, from Oxford, was selling unpacked dry goods and people learned about Ecobricks – reusable building blocks made from plastic – from Hampstead Norreys Community Shop.
The event also raised more than £200 for charity.
The couple have refilled more than 400 plastic bottles since launching and built up a growing eco-network where ideas can be shared.
Thatcham Refillable is open three times a week and Jenny advises people to check their website www.thatchamrefillable.co.uk or Facebook page to find out when they are open any given week.
Plans are also under way to set up a green market in the district.
Another active member of the group is Jana Karstova Little, who is busy collecting crisp wrappers and other packaging that you would not normally think was recyclable.
“I was out walking my dog and was really shocked at the amount of crisps packets and other rubbish that were just lying around. I went back the next day and filled bags of the stuff – but then had to find something to do with it,” says Jana. “I discovered TerraCycle, which takes wrappers – like crisps packets – as well as all sorts of other packaging and recycles it.
"They have partnered up with various companies who pay to have their packaging recycled and for every few kilograms you send back, they donate money to a charity chosen by you. I have chosen Canine Partners – an organisation that partners people with physical disabilities with assistance dogs.”
In the first six weeks of this year, Jana has amassed 22.7kg of waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill, this includes 3.5kg of oral products, 5.9kg of beauty product plastic packaging, 6.7kg of petfood flexible packaging and 11.6kg of crisps packets.*
“I’m so proud of everyone getting on board with this,” says Jana. “We have already raised more than £40*.”
Jana shows us the boxes in her garage filled with Ella’s Kitchen food pouches and tubes of Pringles, items that most people just chuck in the bin. She has also got various local companies collecting packaging for her, including Donnington Vets which is collecting pet food packaging for Jana to send on to TerraCycle.
The list of what can be done to reduce waste and create a greener, cleaner planet is endless, but the Thatcham initiative is just one example of how a group of people can get together and make a difference.
Initiatives from Thatcham & Newbury plastic free, recycling & zero waste UK.
Jana Karstova Little collects:
• All biscuit wrappers, non-savoury biscuit wrappers, all cracker wrappers, cake bar wrappers
• All crisp packet and multi bag wrappers.
NO popcorn bags. Please rinse and dry
• Any toothbrush and the packaging, tooth paste tubes and caps, electric toothbrush heads and packaging. NO floss packaging, interdentals or denture related
• All wet pet food pouches, all pet treat flexible packaging and pouches and dried pet food flexible plastic packaging. NO cans, cardboard or hard plastic
• Personal care caps, pumps, plastic pots, flexible plastic tubes, hair colour kits, roll on deodorant, flexible plastc wipe packets beauty only, single use mask packets
• Finish dishwashing tablets doypacks (flexible bags) no other brands
• Tin foil – washed and dried
• takes in used biros, felt tip pens and
• Milk bottle tops can be taken to the porch at St Mary’s church Thatcham.
• Other small bottle (fizzy, squash, water, tetra Pak) tops can be mailed free to Freepost LUSH GREENHUB
*These were the figures at the end of February when the article was first published