Green Drinks – Give and Take Fashion – Tuesday 4th March

knitting 2The fashion and fabrics business is one of the largest and most polluting industries  on the planet.  How can we have a more sustainable relationship with the people and plants who make our clothes and other materials?

At this month’s Green Drinks, ex-fashion editor and curator of this year’s Dye Garden Project, Charlotte Du Cann, will be looking at ways we can individually  and collectively ‘downshift the wardrobe’, including running sewing circles, clothes swaps and Give and Take Days. Do come along and join in the conversation.

Meanwhile here is a great article on textiles  published in our winter issue of Transition Free Press.

Textiles in Transition

by William Lana

Textiles is a truly global industry. In many ways it was the starting point of the industrialisation of the world, kicked off in the 18th and 19th centuries by Britain’s cotton industry and trade. Labour-intensive garment production was one of the earliest to adopt the ‘logic’ of globalisation and in the last 50 years has been moving from the high-wage countries to lower and lower wage countries in a so-called race to the bottom…

The globalisation of the textile industry has meant that companies have shifted focus away from production and instead ‘bigged-up’ brand and marketing.  Production is merely supply a management issue. This has led to a systemic exploitation of workers, including excessive hours, lack of job security, poverty wages, ill-health and denial of trade union rights.

To a transitioner this feels very unsatisfactory. We want to know where the raw materials have been grown, raised or made. We want to know what the energy input has been, how far the garment has come, and what toxic outputs have been created through its production. Who has made it and under what conditions?  Quite apart from the concern that our bum doesn’t look big in it.

When we opened our Greenfibres shop in the mid 1990’s I remember some people walking by, saying “Organic textiles?! You don’t eat your socks!”. Apart from being incorrect (60% of the cotton harvest is cotton seed used for animal feed and vegetable oil) it made me realise just how disconnected we are from our textiles. They are all around us (literally), internationally employ over 26 million people (not including over 100 million farmers who grow cotton and other materials), and yet we have a very distant relationship to them.

sewing-sessiontara-et-alasdairHow far have we come in 20 years?  Hmmm…. not terribly.  I’m heartened to see the real growth of the make and mend movement, that £13 million worth of organic textiles were sold in the UK in 2012 and that documentaries about the industry (such as Dirty White Gold investigating the high suicide rate of Indian cotton farmers). But it still feels like early days. Who’s asking questions about energy use?  (one t-shirt requires approx. 1.7 kg of fossil fuel and generates approx. 4 kg of CO2). Can we even return to a less energy intensive textile industry? Who remembers how to ret or scutch flax?  Where are the businesses who know how to process these fibres?  Why is 95% of the cotton grown in the US from GM seed?

So what if we wanted to start bringing fibres and fabrics back home, what might that look like?  Well, for starters …

  • we’d get busy planting some hemp (and make it easier to get a licence – mine took 18 months)
  • we’d re-introduce basic sewing into the primary school curriculum
  • we’d pass legislation requiring historical information to be included on the barcode of garments, e.g. where the raw materials came from, and where the garment was made (a pair of Lee jeans can travel 40,000 miles from field to shelf).

Meanwhile what can the average transitioner do to side-step fast fashion?  We can swap clothes with friends, purchase outerwear from charity shops, and if we do buy new items (for example underwear) consider an ethical supplier. If you buy textiles that you love and respect, you’re much less likely to add them to the 3 million ton annual pile which ends up in our bins.  In a nutshell, we should be buying fewer textiles, of better quality, which can be mended.  Now back to my tasty organic cotton socks.

William Lana co-founded the organic textile company Greenfibres in 1996 and is a trustee of Transition Network. He was Chair of the Soil Association’s Organic Textile Standards Committee from 2001-2012 and helped found the Organic Trade Board in 2008.

For further reading: John Thackera on Routledge’s upcoming Handbook on Fashion and Sustainability

Charlotte Du Cann will be introducing The Dye Garden on Saturday 22nd March, 10am at the Bungay Community Library (before Sustainable Bungay’s Eighth Give and Take Day)

Images: girl at knitting workshop at Transition Kensal to Kilburn Reskilling Day by Jonathan Goldberg : Transition reskilling.

Spring Clean! – Give and Take Day – Saturday 22nd March

Give and Take 2Our eighth Give and Take Day (22nd March) is happening just after spring equinox, perfect timing for a good spring clean! So why not bring along your unwanted items of clothing, furniture, garden and household equipment, books, CDs and DVDs to the Community Centre and pick up something you might need. Just make sure that anything you bring is in decent, usable (or at least reparable) condition. This can even include electrical goods as our qualified PAT tester will be there.

And remember, no money exchanges hands – it’s Give, it’s Take, and everything is free (although we do welcome donations towards room hire costs).

Give and Take Days have become an integral part of the ‘remit’ of Sustainable Bungay since we began holding them once or twice a year in March 2009. When the group first formed after the Climate Change conference in Emmanuel Church in 2007, we wanted to know how we could engage locally in response to changing climate conditions. What could we do here?

Since joining the Transition network in 2008, the group’s activities are now also informed by factors such as the decreasing availability of cheap fossil fuel energy and widespread economic downturn.

Profligate waste is one of the biggest problems in our present throwaway culture, whether it’s food, clothing or technology. Fossil fuels are embedded in the production of almost everything in our lives, and carbon emissions from waste exert a significant impact on the climate.

So Give and Take Days are not just about getting rid of stuff and picking up more stuff. They also aim to bring attention to our use of resources and make sure less of that stuff ends up in landfill sites, where it will sit for a very long time, emitting! These modest events have so far meant that about 35 tonnes of potential landfill has found a new home.

This time there will be an upcycling table in connection with the 2014 Dye Garden at Bungay Library, and we’ll be joined again by Emmaus from Ditchingham. Give and Take Days are also a great opportunity to meet up with friends and neighbours – and to enjoy refreshments prepared by the Happy Monday Community Kitchen crew. Everyone welcome. Hope to see you there! Mark Watson

Give and Take Day: Saturday 22nd March at the Community Centre, Upper Olland Street, 11am-2pm. For large pickups please contact Eloise: or call 07842 897172

Where the wild things are in Bungay

longtailedtit babiesBillwebcropAs the season turns and everythings starts growing and singing and coming out of hibernation (including ourselves!) two great nature projects are springing into action. Rose Titchiner describes Wild about Bungay , the Community Wildlife Project and Blog now in its second year and the new Bungay Wildlife Monitor group

Wild about Bungay


The seeds for the Wild About Bungay community wildlife project came from Jasmine Lingwood and has since been carried forward and evolved by Jasmine’s brothers, Chris and Terry Reeve and members of the project.

The Wild About Bungay project, encourages everyone to celebrate and record the flora and fauna that we see and find all around us in Bungay and in the gardens, meadows, commons, verges, paths and waterways around the town – nothing is too commonplace or mundane to share and celebrate!  Anyone can contribute. Email us your sightings and photos and well will upload them onto Bungay’s

very own community wildlife blog for all to see and enjoy throughout the year.

The project is expanding this year, to encourage Bungay schools to contribute their wildlife sightings to the blog. A Bungay wildlife photographic exhibition will be held at the Fisher Theatre in October 2014 and a book celebrating Bungay wildlife is planned for Autumn 2015. The project is also keen to assist with the long-term, in-depth habitat survey work of the newly formed Bungay WildWatch group.

Check out the Wild About Bungay community wildlife blog for more information on sending in your sightings and photos or becoming involved in the project: 

common newt Ian A Kirk

Bungay Wildlife Monitor group


Bungay Wildlife Watch Group has been formed as an umbrella group for all those who are interested in, care about or are responsible for wildlife and wildlife habitats in and around Bungay.

Over the next two years the group is planning to conduct in-depth, year round biological surveys of the wildlife habitats and waterways around Bungay. We would also like to keep a record of the current and potential future management plans of wildlife areas around the town.

The group is in the process of setting up a website and online biological recording system to log records for our own data as well as to feed records into the county biological recording systems of Suffolk and Norfolk.

As well as landowners and organisations involved in environmental or habitat management around Bungay, we’re keen to hear from people with a particular interest in local flora and fauna. We’re also considering running courses and workshops to help deepen our knowledge of the extraordinary wildlife and ecology of this area.

We hope to have a public meeting mid-March to early April. Until then we are discussing ideas and would welcome any suggestions, experience or help. We’ll be arranging a Dyke Dipping Day in late April or early May -to learn more about Bungay’s reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.  with John Baker  County Recorder for Reptiles and Amphibians in Suffolk. If you are interested please email Rose Titchiner on:

Images: common smooth newt by Ian A. Kirk; longtailed tits at Castle Mills by Bill Davis