Newsletter issue 10

26th October 2021

Appeal for new members

It's been a difficult time of much change for the Plastic Free Swindon campaign. We have good activity going on but key members have left and core capacity is at its lowest since the campaign began. To add to that, I have physical health problems which restrict my output. So there are efforts to restructure and build a core team. We are looking for people to join the campaign at a core level. I am confident that a small committed team can make a huge difference in Swindon. The Keep Swindon Tidy campaign especially has shown what such co-operation can achieve. Roles are varied and the campaign is set up to be pliant for its members. If you care about plastic pollution, would like to make a difference, and can commit to a few hours a week, please contact us in the first instance.

Moving on up

Many of you know Lucas Browne. He has been a highly active and supportive member of Plastic Free Swindon since its launch. Lucas is starting a new chapter in his life, moving to Marlborough having been promoted to trainee chef in his workplace. Lucas and I met a few years back at the start of the Plastic Free Swindon campaign. In addition to his regular job, he regularly volunteered at Nude Foods, passing on his care, passion, and knowledge for environmental and health matters including plastic pollution. He has regularly litter picked all over Swindon, including the mammoth efforts at the Oasis and Mannington to Blagrove. He has helped in so many other ways including research and design for The Life of a Plastic Bottle, the design of the current logo, and meeting with members of the public in the town centre to talk about plastic pollution and the campaign. It's been great to work with such a positive, supportive, considerate, and kind person. On behalf of all involved with Plastic Free Swindon, thank you and best wishes for your new job role!

There is another...

...Skywalker? No, another member of the Browne family who cares enough about plastic pollution to get involved in our campaign. Carmen Browne, twin sister of Lucas, recently sent us an article about the importance of supporting second-hand. Thanks to Carmen for doing so, a welcome addition to our library and articles by us. Her article compliments a growing body of work designed to communicate vital key messages around Swindon.

Prospect Hospice, being the change!

Pack of Prospect Hospice Christmas cards.  The front one depicts wise men and reads, 'Joy to the world'.

A local charity which facilitates second-hand /reuse is Prospect Hospice. I have the pleasure of volunteering with them at the awesome Books and Media shop. I wrote to their head office in 2020 about the plastic packaging used for their Christmas cards, asking if they could use cardboard instead. And they have done just that. Brilliant! Thank you Prospect Hospice for taking responsibility and setting a great example! Please let's support such efforts for a plastic-free Swindon.

Keep Swindon Tidy

Signs of things to come

Work is ongoing to produce signs for the Keep Swindon Tidy campaign, another aspect to help end an unhealthy culture of littering. The idea came from an article describing the idea and showing how it worked in Sweden. It is based on a simple premise, that most people have respect for others and will not litter if efforts to keep areas tidy are understood. The first project is a collaboration with Central South Swindon Parish Council and will use a design(s) from our poster making gallery. The second is to compliment our litter picks and is a zero waste approach. That's all I'm telling you for now! Both projects are being supported by the Men's Shed in Penhill, part of Renew Swindon. We are grateful for their support, kindness and nouse. Watch this space...

Community gardening
Raised beds with bean poles and emerging plants.  Reads, 'Canal community garden.  Planted by the community for the community.  Please help yourself and feel free to water the plants in dry weather.'

There's another community gardening event this Saturday 30th October 2021, 10am - 2pm, meeting by the bench and steps in the playpark at Cambria Bridge (Facebook event here). After clearing a large bed in the last session, we'll be doing some planting and further clearing. Please bring tools if you have them, although some will be provided. This event is a collaborative effort again between Linda Kasmaty and Central South Swindon Parish Council, Jess Halsall, and Keep Swindon Tidy. From a litter / pollution perspective, we hope that this project will further a sense of community ownership and responsibility for this space. Please contact us with any queries.

Old school activism

We've been talking with people in town about the Keep Swindon Tidy campaign and handing out leaflets. Focus has been on McDonalds because of the consistently appalling state of the area around its town centre premises. It's been a useful exercise and has made a noticeable difference, although it's going to take persistence / dedication to consolidate changes. Thanks to Jon Stubbs for his help.

Refill Swindon

Lockdowns / Covid-19 caused many problems for us including for Refill Swindon. Water stations were to be installed at the Brunel Centre in town. This has the potential to grow and normalise the scheme, as the Brunel Centre is well-visited. A lack of piped drinking water in the centre has meant that businesses based there have been unable to support the scheme. I'm pleased to say that talks with the Brunel Centre have resumed and we will be looking to progress this in the new year.

Local and national government

Waste incineration

Communications with Keith Williams, councillor for climate change, continued re the borough council's incorrect messaging on the Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) plant at Cheney Manor. The outcome of that is that the borough council will not amend this messaging, so disinforming the public. The Adver article covering this didn't mention the point re the UK government's partnership with the World Economic Forum. The question is, why? Read in full.

This petition by the Zero Carbon Campaign calls for the government to end subsidies for fossil fuels (including the incineration of plastic) and to introduce charges on producers of greenhouse gas emissions. With 100,000+ signatories, this has enabled a Parliamentary debate. UKWIN are encouraging us all to write to our MPs, as this is an opportunity to end further subsidies for waste incineration. Take and share the simple action.

Believe it or not?

After the non-solutions and lack of action on plastic pollution by the UK government, Boris Johnson's comments on the need to reduce plastic production over recycling may come as a surprise. He is quoted as saying that, "we've all got to cut down our use of plastic" and that a system of reusing plastics "doesn't begin to address the problem". Let's hope that such words are substantial.

The Plastic Packaging Tax

We received a response to our queries on the efficacy of the Plastic Packaging Tax, from Helen Whately MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. With further consideration, we calculated the taxation using a couple of different plastic bottle sizes. Taxation on each 330ml bottle would be 0.2862p. Taxation on each 1.5l bottle would be 0.652p. So it would seem that this tax could easily be passed onto the consumer or borne by producers. Hence this tax seems unfit for purpose. We mentioned these points in response to Robert Buckland. Please take the time to share the updated page. Again thanks to Helen H for corresponding with Justin Tomlinson.

To be or not to be?

Collage of information and images related to philosophy

No, that's not the question! Gerry Hannon, Geraint Day and I will be talking about environmental degradation for a Swindon Philosophical Society event on Friday 5th November 2021. Gerry and Geraint will be talking more widely about factors affecting environmental degradation. I will be focusing on lesser-known aspects related to plastic pollution. See their website and / or Facebook page for event details. A list of their upcoming events is available here: .odt | .docx | .pdf. Please note that, for inclusivity, the free / libre .odt file format is provided.

News roundup

Library expansion

Huge thanks to Gerry Hannon for his steady stream of articles over the last few years, which inspired the creation of our library. It's been recently updated to include the categories of 'banks' and 'Deposit Return Schemes (DRS)'.

Climate change

Rolling Stone's article, 'Plastic May Soon Overtake Coal as a Climate Killer', adds to a body of evidence on the contribution of plastics to climate change. From difficult experiences with local climate campaigners, I especially welcome consolidation and further understanding of these factors in challenging the government analysis which has been shared and repeated without due consideration and understanding. Here is an example from the Swindon Climate Action Network website. See the library for further info on plastic's correlations to climate change.

Plastic credits

Akin to carbon credits, the idea behind plastic credits is to offset plastic production. With a little consideration and understanding, it is clear that this cannot be done. As our Life of a Plastic Bottle resource clearly shows, plastic pollutes through every stage of its existence. So how can such pollution and subsequent damage be offset? However there's further consideration on plastic credits including suggestion that they may be worthwhile in the short term. Here's an article analysing them.

That's all folks!

That's it for this month. Please take the time to share, including this newsletter. Thanks for supporting Plastic Free Swindon!