Spring Clean! – Give and Take Day – Saturday 21st March, 11am-1pm

Give and take2015 (smaller)This year’s Give and Take Day, our 9th, is taking place on 21st March on the Spring Equinox weekend, 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 repairable) condition. This can even include electrical goods as our qualified PAT tester will be there. (Please note: No TVs, VHS players or videotapes accepted).

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?

Give and Take Crew

SB’s first Give and Take Crew 21st March 2009

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.

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!

Give and Take Day: Saturday 21st March at the Community Centre, Upper Olland Street, 11am-1pm (please note items accepted 9am-12pm)
The Community Centre will also be open to receive items on Friday 20th March, between 5.30 & 7pm
For large pickups on Friday 20th March in the afternoon and further info please contact Eloise: eloisewilkinson@gmail.com or call 07842 897172

On Making Space for Nature in Sustainable Bungay

This post was first published on 24th September 2014 under the title Mark Watson on Making Space for Flowers as part of the “Making Space for Nature” theme on the Transition Network website. It appears here unabridged.

IMG_1158“Did you grow all those yourself?”, a young woman asked me last week at Transition Town Tooting’s 7th Foodival.
She was pointing to a wicker basket filled with the aromatic lemon balm, rosemary, anise hyssop, marjoram and a dozen or so more herbs and flowers I was preparing tea from at the event:
“A lot of them I grew at home in Suffolk, some are wild plants and others are from gardens here in Tooting, including the Community Garden up the road.”
She looked suprised, almost shocked. “My only reference for that kind of thing are the supermarket shelves,” she said.

In that moment I realised many things all at once: that events like the Foodival show how we can come together and regain autonomy over what we eat (and drink); that you never know who will walk in the door and get switched on by something they’ve never considered before; that making space for nature goes beyond the world of nature reserves, wildlife documentaries or even pilgrimages into the wilderness. I also realised that an intrinsic engagement with the living world is what I’ve been showing and teaching in the last six years since I became part of the Transition movement; and that Transition has offered me a role where I can use my knowledge and skills to bring plants and people together in a dynamic and inspiring way.

Bungay is a small rural market town of 5000 people on the river Waveney in north-east Suffolk, surrounded by conventionally farmed agricultural land. The common idea that people in rural areas are automatically more connected with nature can be misleading. Wherever we live now much of the time is spent in artificial spaces: in front of computers, television screens, in our minds and indoors.

When I consider Sustainable Bungay, the Transition group where I’ve been most active since 2008, I see that (re)connection with living systems and considering the planet is implicit in everything we do, from the permaculture inspired Library Community garden, to the Give and Grow plant swap days to a cycle ride down to the pub by the locks of the Waveney at Autumn equinox. The very first Transition event I led was a Spring Tonic Walk introducing people from Bungay and Transition Norwich to dandelions, cleavers and nettles, the medicine plants growing in the neighbourhood.

Voilet-adorned prunes detailOur monthly community kitchen, Happy Mondays is now in its fourth year. A meal for 50 people, most of it locally sourced, is prepared from scratch in under three hours and features everything from nettle pesto and bittercress salad to puddings with foraged sweet violets or blackberries from the common.

Bungay Community Bees was formed in 2009 in response to the global pollinator crisis. There are now more than a dozen beehives in orchards and gardens in and around the town. The group has also created a purpose-built apiary (an observation shed with a hand-crafted glass hive) in association with Anglia Regional Co-operative Society and Featherdown Farms. In the summer schoolchildren from the region come to visit the bees and go on nature walks where they learn about flowers and pollinators.

College farm apiary

Even behind the Give and Take days with their ethos of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refashion, Re-just-about-everything, there is the sense that the planet needs a major break from all the stuff the industrial system keeps pumping out. Nature needs a breathing space!

Soil moving banner

A natural breathing space is among the many things that Bungay Community Library Garden offers. In 2009 a subgroup from Sustainable Bungay teamed up with the town library, organised an Introduction to Permaculture course with Graham Burnett and worked with local builders, gardeners, tree surgeons and group members to transform the unused brick courtyard with one jasmine and a honeysuckle into a flourishing community garden with raised beds, fruit trees, flowers and herbs.

BCLG 13.7.2014

Each year since its opening in 2010, the garden’s central bed showcases a different theme: plants for bees in 2011, plants as medicine in 2012, an edible bed in 2013 and this year dyes and textiles. This way people can get a feel for just how multi-faceted plants are and just how interwoven they are in our human lives. In many cases the categories change but the plants stay the same. The calendula you made a tea from in 2012, you tossed into a salad in 2013 and dyed a scarf with the following year!

The person curating the garden each year organises events around the theme. In the Plants for Life series I ran in 2012 focusing on health and wellbeing, there were monthly talks, walks and workshops with guest speakers, on everything from biodynamic growing to walking with weeds to the medicinal properties of homemade wine! I also ran ‘plant surgeries’ during the summer where people could come and ask questions about the project and the plants and exchange their knowledge too.

IMG_8305 low res

The garden has become a focal point for many of Sustainable Bungay’s activities from steering group meetings in the summer to seed and produce swaps, Abundance exchanges of foraged fruit, and apple pressings. It is also the starting point for the wellbeing walks begun by the Arts, Culture and Wellbeing group last year.

The idea behind the walks was to explore local places together to encourage wellbeing and a sense of belonging. How that might increase personal, and particularly community, resilience, help combat the desire to be somewhere else and so encourage lower use of fossil fuels. Many people reported that simply by taking part in the collective walks brought an experience of wellbeing in itself.

Image3313

There is more. Recently a group called NR35 (‘Natural Resources’ 35) based on the local postcode, began to explore “how to use our skills, knowledge and labour to generate an income by sustainably managing/harvesting the resources which are wildly abundant around our rural market town.” The results include the harvesting of fruit and vegetable gluts, some of which are supplied to local restaurants and grocers and a communal firewood store. Last spring a small group of us learned how to make a dead hedge with local tree surgeon Paul Jackson. It took just a morning but I remember practically everything Paul taught us.

So what I’m saying here is that making space for nature can start right outside our doors, and in the places we find ourselves. That it’s not always the big exotic landscapes abroad where Nature is to be encountered. We need to discover the natural world where we are and engage with it, because it’s the natural world that makes sense of everything in the end.

P4050041 tempcopy

In 2015 it will be my turn again to curate the theme at Bungay Community Library garden, and the focus will be on ‘Helpful Herbs’ of all kinds. Lavender and rosemary are settling into bed, with thyme, St. Johns Wort, sweet cicely and others already there. And I’m working with a team on some exciting events. I’m also planning to map the project as part of a group helping to shape a new Transition Diploma, a collaboration between Gaia University and the Transition Network. Oh, and to make it into a Transition livelihood!

Meanwhile here is a picture from a plant walk around Bury St Edmunds I led in June this year with Sustainable Bury. The caption would probably go something like this:

“You can’t go anywhere nowadays without people sitting on walls looking at Hoary Willowherb!”

hoary-willowherb-bury-wall-14-june-2014

Mark Watson is co-chair of Sustainable Bungay, a Transition Initiative in Suffolk, UK. Mark teaches groups and individuals to reconnect with nature through plants in the places they live. Details about his talks, walks and workshops can be found on Mark in Flowers.

Images: Talking plants and teas at Tooting Foodival, September 2014 by Chris from NappyValleyNet; Wild sweet violets adorn Happy Monday pudding by Josiah Meldrum; School visit to Bungay Community Bees’ observation hive by Elinor McDowell; Preparing the beds, 2010, Bungay Community Library garden (MW); the garden flourishes, summer 2014; Walking with Weeds, Plants for Life, 2012 (MW); 1st Wellbeing walk by the Waveney, 2013 by Charlotte Du Cann; Throwing our arms up under the cherry trees, April 2014 (CDC); Of walls and hoary willowherb in Bury St Edmunds, 2014 by Karen Cannard

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 http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-01-07/a-whole-new-cloth-politics-and-the-fashion-system

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: eloisewilkinson@gmail.com or call 07842 897172

STIR Magazine Article on Sustainable Bungay – from July 2013

IssueNo2cover-723x1024STIR magazine is a “reader-supported” printed publication which appears quarterly in the UK and beyond. STIR looks at “the inspiring and practical co-operative, commons-based and community-led alternatives to the crises in our food, finance systems and other important aspects of our lives.” In the July issue, Mark Watson wrote an article on Sustainable Bungay for STIR’s regular Transition column. The article includes a brief history with mentions of many of our projects. He republishes the column here in its entirety. The images did not appear in the printed article. The original title was Small is Beautiful in Sustainable Bungay. For subscriptions to STIR magazine see here. The Autumn 2013 issue is out at the beginning of October.

Small is Beautiful in Sustainable Bungay – July 2013

November 2007 A young zoologist called Kate stands up after a climate change conference at the Emmanuel Church in the small market town of Bungay in the Waveney Valley, Suffolk, on the edge of the Norfolk Broads.

Climate scientists from the University of East Anglia, a Met Office spokesman and local MPs have presented a sobering scenario of the effects of climate change over the coming century in our flat, agricultural waterland– from flooding and land salination to food insecurity and the possibility of malaria becoming endemic.

“So that’s the bad news from the experts,” says Kate. “If anyone’s interested in discussing what we might be able to do about it, here in Bungay, let’s meet in the lobby afterwards.”

Four people join Kate and Sustainable Bungay is born.

Sustainable Bungay has grown since then, although we remain a small, diverse group, making mostly small, local, community moves through a range of projects and events open to anyone. This is not to say that Sustainable Bungay has no influence, but we are a grassroots rather than a mainstream organisation, and often invisible.

Behind everything we do, whether it’s a Give and Take Day, themed Green Drinks, or community bike ride, is an awareness of increasing climate and financial instability and the depletion of fossil fuel resources. How do we relocalise in terms of food, energy, the economy?

In 2008 we became a Transition initiative, now a network of over a thousand groups in the UK and worldwide, aiming to decrease dependence on fossil fuels, relocalise economies and build resilience starting at a community level.

Image1707At Happy Mondays at the Community Kitchen each month, 50 people sit down to eat a meal together at one table in the Community Centre. The meals are cooked from scratch in three hours using seasonal and mostly local ingredients, including foraged food and produce from peoples’ gardens and allotments. The table is always decorated with fresh flowers and each meal has a theme with a short talk on subjects ranging from backyard hens to Mexican conviviality to food security. The crew contains experienced cooks, growers and gardeners all pooling their knowledge and experience. We’re all getting used to working and eating together again, using less energy and fostering independence from the industrialised food system.

Bungay Community Bees is a response to the worldwide decline in honeybees and the first ‘community-supported apiculture’ project in the country. The group has five hives in orchards and gardens around the town, beekeeping ‘in a bee-centred rather than beekeeper-centred way’. BCB has planted wildflower meadows, held two Bungay Beehive celebrations and has now teamed up with the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society and a nearby farm to arrange school visits to a purpose-built apiary. Every primary school in the area has signed up to visit the bees.

Hot Beds and Leafy GreensWe also work with other groups. In 2011, when the library was threatened with closure due to the government cuts, Sustainable Bungay got behind the Save Bungay Library campaign and helped organise poetry events, readings and awareness-raising days. Josiah gathered hundreds of email addresses from people supporting the campaign and we got communicating. The library was saved.

This was great, not least for Sustainable Bungay. Not only are many of our meetings held at the library, we had also built a community garden in the courtyard in 2010, a place anyone can go to read, relax or learn about plants. The central bed has a different theme each year with talks and workshops. In 2011 this was bees, last year plant medicine. This year the bed is edible!

Apart from the bee group, Sustainable Bungay has no external funding. All income is derived from Happy Mondays and donations at events. So after five years as an unincorporated voluntary organisation with a bank account, a constitution, a chairman, secretary and treasurer, we are now looking to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

Why does a group of fifteen to twenty people invest such time and energy organising projects and events like Happy Mondays, plant swaps, Green Drinks and wellbeing walks, as well as maintaining a website and producing a quarterly newsletter and diary? Why does the core group have an open planning meeting every month anyone can attend? Why do we do these things?

Image3313For over fifty years in the West most of us have had the means to live an individualisticall-about-me lifestyle due to abundant cheap oil and ready credit. If we didn’t feel like having much to do with other people, we could literally afford not to. This is changing.

Sustainable Bungay and hundreds of other similar initiatives worldwide, through consistent actions within our communities, are relearning the art of working together with other people, sharing skills and helping to create a new culture, a culture that’s more about ‘us’. This ‘us’ includes people, bees, plants and the rest of the living world. We start local, paying attention in small ways to where we are, together. We do it for a different kind of future.

May 2013 SB’s new subgroup and “social enterprise”, NR35, has just laid a dead hedge in Richard’s wildlife garden.

Founder Nick Watts, said, “We are starting to think about how to use our skills, knowledge and labour to generate an income by sustainably managing and harvesting the [abundant] resources around our rural market town. NR35 is the local postcode and also stands for Natural Resources.”

Nobody had prior experience of dead-hedging except Paul, who is a tree surgeon. He taught us how to drive the stakes into the ground, build the hedge up with recently pruned and dead branches, and finally make it secure by jumping on it. These dead hedges become havens for wildlife including birds and insects who make their homes in them.

It took five of us under two hours to complete. Richard  was delighted, as was his next door neighbour. Wildlife-friendly, people-friendly, climate-friendly, the hedge seems the perfect embodiment of Sustainable Bungay. A small, beautiful, sometimes invisible thing that benefits life within and beyond its boundaries.

Images: STIR Magazine Cover Summer 2013; Happy Mondays Kitchen Crew Mexican Fiesta September 2012; Hot Beds and Leafy Greens Library Garden Workshop Poster, March 2013; Arts, Culture and Wellbeing walk, April 2013

Mark Watson is the current chairman of Sustainable Bungay, a transition initiative in northeast Suffolk: http://www.sustainablebungay.com/. He is also the distribution manager for the quarterly Transition Free Press national newspaper http://transitionfreepress.org/  He blogs and tweets as markinflowers, http://markinflowers.wordpress.com/

Give and Take day Saturday 16th March

Sustainable Bungay’s next Give and Take day is coming up very soon on Saturday 16th March 10- 1pm at Bungay’s community centre on Upper Olland street.

A great opportunity to have a good spring clean,to bring along all your unwanted things and maybe pick up something fantastic all for free.We will accept anything as long as it is usable.
You don’t have to have brought something in order to take something,you can always make a donation and/or help out on the day.
 
New this year: We can now accept electrical items thanks to our volunteer PAT tester + Charlotte Du Cann will be hosting a pop up fashion show!
If you have any large items you need collecting please get in touch with me and i will come and collect them on Friday 15th March or otherwise arranged.
 
 Talk At 12pm: Jeppe Graugaard will be joining Nick Watts and Charlotte Du Cann to discuss Gift Economy.He will talk about the Common Room and Trade School.
http://transitionnorwich.blogspot.co.uk/: Scroll down for an article entitled A Living room for the community by Mark Watson.
We will also be showing the animation “The story of stuff” throughout the day.
Tea/coffee and cake provided by the happy mondays crew.
 
 Volunteering:
The give and take day involves a certain amount of work sorting stuff before ,during and after the event.
Can you help from 8am on Saturday morning setting up and unloading?
Can you help from 10am,there are 7 different areas that need people to sort and keep tidy.So a minimum of 7 volunteers needed.
Can you help from 1pm to pack things up for the charity shops etc..
Your help is invaluable and makes for a great event for everyone
Please get in touch with me if you can help.
Looking forward to another great Give and Take!
Eloise 01986788785/07842897172

Master Composters!

We’ve got a couple of local Master Composters coming to the next Give and Take Day (22nd September 10 – 1). They’re volunteers who encourage people in their local community to start composting at home and offer support to people who are already home composting and may be having difficulties or need encouragement. The scheme is supported by Garden Organic, here’s how they describe the work:

Master Composters

Can-o-Worms wormery

Master Composters are volunteers who encourage and support householders with composting at home. These volunteers come from every age group and a wide variety of backgrounds and this helps with the scheme being so effective – Master Composters can reach ‘parts that other compost promoting activities cannot reach’ –  they talk to their friends, family and neighbours, write in their parish newsletter, attend village fairs and it has even been know for a Master Composter to hold a compost-themed children’s birthday party!

Brandling worms

Apart from having the opportunity to enthuse about compost, there are many benefits of becoming a Master Composter. In the words of one volunteer:

I have really enjoyed being a Master  Composter,  I have improved my confidence through talking to people at events and have even been advising about composting to work colleagues. I have found people are interested in the subject, to cut down on waste and improve their gardens.’

Master Composters really can make a difference in changing people’s attitudes and behaviour and they are an essential part of the national strategy to increase environmental awareness and to reduce the amount of waste that just gets put in the rubbish bin.

Garden Organic has been involved with setting up Master Composter schemes, training Master Composters and developing resources for Master Composters for several years. Each Master Composter scheme is run on a regional basis, usually supported by the County Council. To find out more information on Master Composter schemes and if there is a scheme near you, have a look at our dedicated Master Composter website.

Karen Cannard – A Zero Waste Lifestyle in a Nutshell

At tomorrows Give and Take Day, as well as Master Composters, County Council Recyclers, Jake Kerr from Canarchy and representatives from Ditchingham based Emmaus and Waveney Freegle, we’ll be joined by Karen Cannard, creator of the Rubbish Diet.

Karen is a zero waste hero, inspired some years back by a local campaign she resolved to reduce her household waste – she did far better than she had expected and realised that others could easily do the same. She began writing a blog, speaking at events, popping up on the radio – encouraging people to reduce their waste.

She’ll be at the Give and Take Day talking about waste reduction and encouraging us to go on our own Rubbish Diets. Below we’re reproducing Karen’s eight simple steps to bin slimming:

——

THE RUBBISH DIET – EIGHT SIMPLE STEPS TO SLIM YOUR BIN

If you’re keen to reduce your household waste but don’t know where to start, why not consider the quick start guide below and follow your very own Rubbish Diet plan. Just remember to regularly weigh-in and watch that bin get slimmer by the week.

STEP 1: Set the date! Find an appropriate date when you will take part in your very own Zero Waste Week. During that week your challenge will be to avoid buying or throwing away anything that can’t be composted or recycled. A week with zero waste to landfill! Just make sure you’ve got about 8 weeks to prepare for your challenge. The longer you’ve got, the easier it will be. And tell your friends, so you can gather support. You could use your efforts to fundraise for a good cause, such as Comic Relief in March. It’ll be a lot easier than running a marathon and more pleasant than sitting in a bath of baked beans and you’re guaranteed a few laughs while you’re at it.

STEP 2: Weigh in! Eight weeks before your Zero Waste Week starts, measure your weeklyfortnightly landfill waste so you get a real understanding of what you’re up against and how badly you need to slim that bin! Estimate the cubic litres (based on the size of your bin) or put your rubbish on the weighing scales. Just be consistent as you’ll need to weigh-in every Bin Day to measure your progress and keep motivated towards your goal.

STEP 3: Analyse your rubbish! Look at what you throw away and work out the greatest offenders as a percentage of your waste. Then tackle them one by one.

STEP 4: Do your research! Even if you’re confident about what can be recycled in your area, phone your council for the latest information on kerbside facilities, recycling centres or bring-banks. If you prefer using the Internet look up the details at www.recyclenow.com.

STEP 5: Revamp your recycling system! You’ll need a system that is convenient and easy to use. An excellent range of sorting bins is available at www.homerecycling.co.uk, but if money is tight, you can create a well-organised solution with just boxes and bags.

STEP 6: Remember to recycle everything you can! Get to know your recycling labels and scour the shelves for products where the packaging can be easily recycled in your area. Swap products that can’t be recycled for those that can or find packaging that can easily biodegrade in your compost bin. Remember that polythene bags can be reused and when they wear out, most supermarkets will take them off your hands. TetraPak now has a carton recycling point in many areas of the UK as do Brita for the collection of its water cartridges. Drop things off on the way to work, share a rota with friends and neighbours, or swap items with family. Reuse what can’t be recycled.

STEP 7. Reduce everything else! Try some of the following ideas that can be incorporated into your daily lifestyle and watch your rubbish gradually disappear. Take each idea one step at a time and you’ll have a slimmer bin in no time at all.

  • Break free from Junk Mail! Cancel your catalogues, telephone directories and junk mail. For top tips, visit www.stopjunkmail.org.uk.
  • Shop with waste in mind! Avoid packaging and buy loose where possible. Onya Weigh Bags are great for bagging up loose fruit and veg. Take your own containers for meat and dairy products and if you’re in London, make a trip to Unpackaged, which sells packaging-free produce. Lush sells unpackaged toiletries including shampoo bars, butter bars and deodorants. When going shopping remember your own bags, baskets or trolley bag and don’t forget to buy recycled products to help drive the demand for recyclates back into a closed loop economy. With resources piling up in warehouses this is more important than ever before.
  • Think reusable and refillable! When it comes to toiletries or cleaning products, look for things that can be refilled or reused. Microfibre cloths use water and don’t need chemicals at all. Eco balls are great for cutting down the laundry bills and for cleaning products try the Wiggly Wigglers refillable Ecover service, which it offers by post. Think about ditching disposable sanitary products for washable ones and if you’re looking for refillable cosmetics, try Naturisimo, which offers a great range of lipstick, mascara and powder refills. For the office, consider refilling your printer cartridges. Regular visits to Cartridge World could make you a huge saving.
  • Become an experimental cook! Turn your kitchen into a science lab and set yourself some mini-challenges. Try your hands at bread, pasta, pastry, jam or even yogurt. With a little practice. they’re all easier than you’d expect and just take time and a new routine and it will help ditch more packaging, even if it’s once in a while. Take lessons at your local college and you’ll soon be proficient. Londoners can also drop into Just Fresh Pasta for tips on how to pick up a few Italian skills and if you live in Somerset book up with the Magdalen Project to take part in one of Tracey Smith’s breadmaking courses (I’ve heard she’s very good).
  • Grow your own food! Even if it’s a pot of herbs on your windowsill, that’s fewer plastic packets heading for landfill! For instant garden packs try Natural Collection, Rocket Gardens or The Kitchen Garden Company and for an alternative to the plastic pot plant check out Hairy Pot Plants.
  • Reduce your food waste! Food waste left to rot in landfill generates methane, a greenhouse gas that is 23% more powerful than carbon dioxide. So work on cutting down your food waste. If convenient, shop more regularly and buy less food. Cook with friends and use up leftovers. Then freeze portions for another day. See www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for lots of inspiration.
  • Compost it! Even if you’ve just got a few containers, home composting is a great way of recycling your kitchen scraps into something nutritious for your plants. If you haven’t got much space think about a wormery. And there’s always a bokashi bin, which accepts fish and meat, then after a few weeks the contents can be added to your compost bin, wormery or dug into the ground. Another solution is the Green Cone, a food digester.
  • Plan it! Remember a zero waste lifestyle also applies when you’re out and about. So buy coffee in reusable cups and take a lunch-box to work. Plan a zero waste picnic without clingfilm or foil and use reusable containers instead.
  • Repair it! Don’t just throw something away if it’s broken. Take your shoes to the cobblers, your clothes to a tailor or get an electrician to fix your gadgets. And if it’s spares you need for your electricals, visit the online shop at espares.
  • Exchange it! Even if it’s broken don’t just dump it, give it away through exchange communities such as Freecycle or LETS bartering groups. Or if you need a few bucks, sell it at a boot fair or on eBay. Just be honest about its condition. Of course, there are always a whole host of charity shops that could do with your well cared-for goods in good condition.
  • Go Virtual! Avoid physical clutter by going digital. Read your newspaper online or download your favourite magazines at Magazinesondemand and Zinio.com. Listen to books at Audible.com or buy ebooks instead. Ditch CDs for digital downloads on itunes, emusic or napster. Or if you can cope with adverts try Accuradio for free. Find films on Sky or Freeview or download movies on demand from BT or Tesco’s new digital service. For those who enjoy PC games, dump the CD for downloads at Steam. And if you really don’t fancy the virtual option, there’s always your local library.
  • Go Rechargeable! Swap your disposable batteries for rechargeable ones and buy rechargable gadgets instead. For inspiration visit the Centre for Alternative Technology and check out their online shop as well as Natural Collection and Nigel’s Eco Store.
  • Give Recycled Gifts! Buying recycled gifts may not directly reduce the size of your dustbin, but it helps keep materials out of landfill. And there are so many different products available there is something for everyone’s taste. For hand-crafted gifts try Eco Emporia and for a wonderful stationary range and some really funky chickens take a peek at Love Eco. EcoCentric also offers many a stylish gift for your delectation. And if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, lots more ideas can be found at the Recycled Products Guide.

STEP 8: Finally enjoy your Zero Waste Week with ease! With so many things to think about, your Zero Waste Week will arrive before you know it. But if you’ve reduced your packaging, recycled what you’ve bought and composted your organic waste, you should find it much easier than you could have ever imagined. Just remember to weigh-in before you start and then once again at the end of the week. Then celebrate your successes in style. And if you’ve got some plastic bags, yogurt pots, or bottle tops that can’t be recycled locally, send them to the recycling angels at Polyprint and Impact Recycling.

By resolving to reduce your rubbish, you’ll be joining a popular trend. For inspiration visit My zero waste, Aiming-low, Zero Waist, jrzerowastechallenge and Home Zero Waste. There are also loads of other links in the sidebar that will give you plenty of options to consider.

And as for life thereafter. Well, there’s one thing that can be guaranteed…it will never be the same again….for you or indeed your bin.

[*Edits – this post was originally published in December 2008 and has been edited to remove the Christmas context as it can be applied to any time of the year]

Talking rubbish – Give and Take Day discussion with Jake Kerr – 22nd September, 11.30am

Processed and unprocessed cans

This autumn’s Give and Take Day at the Community Centre is going to be a little different from the others, As well as the main room for swapping free stuff and enjoying refreshments at our Happy Mondays cafe,  we have an additional “info room” where you can find out about all aspects of waste management. There will be several stalls  run by “rubbish” organisations from Freegle to Waveney District Council.  We are also delighted to welcome Karen Cannard of The Rubbish Diet and Jake Kerr from Canarchy who will instruct us all in the key essentials of personal and community recycling.

Jake Kerr explains how his crew tackle producer responsibility, but also show consumers how much waste we create and make us face our responsibility:

18-point recycling at Sunrise Off-grid Festival, 2012

Canarchy is direct action recycling. It couples many years of experience in the recycling industry with a long history of environmental activism. If you think the story is over when you shut your wheelie bin then think again. The multi billion pound waste industry and local and national government are only interested in the money this industry generates , not how the final destination of the waste stream impacts on the environment. In fact you are paying them to take away valuable resources and then pollute the environment with them. With the building of the new incinerators it’s becoming more profitable for councils to actually recycle less.

Canarchy runs recycling schemes at festivals where we are given groups of young volunteers to work with. We try and use recycling and the politics of waste to educate them into environmentalism and to inspire them to do something about it themselves. We also run the recycling at local community events . We find that people are much more open to our message after they have seen us in action. We walk the walk and then we talk the talk.

We also are planning to use recycling and other practical green skills,ie compost toilets , alternative power etc, to promote the Transition message into local government agendas via their own Community Resilience initiatives. This is emergency planning that utilises community skills.

If you want to find out what happens to your rubbish after it leaves your bin and what you can do about it, don’t miss Jake’s talk with Q&A session afterwards. See you there!

Give and Take: Saturday 22nd September 10 – 1

Eloise Wilkinson writes:
It’s that time of year when the shorter days start to make the days feel more autumnal – hopefully we’ll get a few weeks of summer yet! What better time to have a bit of a clear out and perhaps pick up some winter clothes or a few books ready for evenings by the fire. Luckily there is no need to shop for the things and no need to throw away what you no longer need as we’re getting ready for the autumn Give and Take Day on Saturday 22nd September 10am-1pm at the Community Centre in Bungay.

If you’ve got something in decent condition that you no longer need – whether it’s an item of furniture, clothes, kitchenware, garden tools, books or toys (but NO electricals please) – bring it along and we’ll find it a new home. And you might just find a hidden gem – and its all free. There are always great encounters with people and the history of their unwanted objects can make for some interesting stories. We never know what’s going to come through the door – in the past we’ve seen surf boards, sofas* and even kitchen sinks come and go. Anything that hasn’t found a new owner by the end of the day will be collected by the local Emmaus Centre in Ditchingham.

And you don’t have to bring something in order to take something away, everything must go!

This September, as well as the usual Give and Take, Sustainable Bungay’s Community Kitchen will offer light refreshments (money raised will help cover the cost of hall hire), Jake from radical recyclers Canarchy will be running a workshop (more details soon) and there will be displays about everything from composting to rubbish sorting.

Much of what we throw away will sit in the ground for a very very long time. By becoming aware of this fact we can influence our daily actions and reduce our personal impact on the planet – and feel great about it! Whether it’s driving, eating, buying, or simply enjoying ourselves we can change our lives in so many ways. We can live more slowly, more softly, more simply or even go on a Rubbish Diet. The Rubbish Diet was started in 2008 by Karen Cannard in Bury St. Edmunds who took up a week long challenge to seriously reduce the amount of rubbish going into her family’s “Black Bin”. It really took off and Karen inspired us all at one of our Green Drinks evenings earlier in the year.

So I challenge you now to have a jolly good rummage for all that stuff you really don’t need that’s cluttering up your space and bring it along to the Community Centre in Upper Olland Street, Bungay on Saturday 22nd September 10am-1pm!

To arrange collections for large or heavy items contact Eloise 01986 788785 eloise.wilkinson@gmail.com

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