Newsletter issue 13
27th April 2022
Busy doesn't even start to describe the past couple of months; seeds starting to grow and blossom. Let's crack on!
Keep Swindon Tidy
Congratulations to Karen Leggett, West Swindon Parish Council's volunteer of the month. Karen is a dedicated litter picker regularly cleaning around West Swindon. For those of you on Facebook, she has recently taken over admin of the Keep Swindon Tidy page. She is supportive of Keep Swindon Tidy in so many ways. Thanks Karen!!
Members of the West Swindon FAB (Flowers and Butterlies) conservation group were then awarded West Swindon Parish Council's volunteers of the month. They have been core to our efforts at Rivermead and are so supportive of local regeneration efforts. I recommend going to Shaw Ridge to see the great work they've done to create beautiful, nature-friendly spaces. Thanks to the aptly-named West Swindon FAB!
We've been working at Rivermead since the start of the year. The transformation has been lovely in places, although there is still some hard work to do! Read our epic blog.
The first of a regular 2 monthly litter pick in Badbury Park took place on Sunday 20th March. I live far away from my family, so it was nice to spend the day with my colleague Fareed Ahmed and his 2 children. The four of us collected several bags of rubbish as well as some loose items. We had an enjoyable morning in the pleasant surrounds of Badbury Park. We observed and discussed the different types of plastic collected and their chemical makeup. We learnt that plastics take a long time to degrade, are toxic and dangerous to wildlife and humans. We managed to clean the long main road and 2 playgrounds. Fareed is setting the bar high in Badbury Park with a proactive approach to looking after the environment there. Please contact us if you would like to get involved in future picks there.
We've been regularly cleaning an area including woodland by TK Maxx. It is part of a huge open intersection for pedestrians and vehicles. As such it's littered very heavily. There is clearly a normalised culture of flytipping. We've spent a lot of time on a relatively small area and are working on measures to reduce litter and flytipping, such as signs and bins. A blog in due course.
We spent last Friday 29th April on Shaw Ridge. In the morning we dealt with a huge amount of flytipping in some woodland. In the afternoon a great turnout at Shaw Ridge Primary School collected lots of waste from the school grounds and surrounding area of Shaw Ridge. Read our blog.
Swindon New College litter pick
On the 4th March, we co-organised a litter pick with Swindon New College at North Star for the students of the Animal Care centre. We invited along Jody and Janine from the local RSPCA and Aaron from Central North Swindon Parish Council. At the beginning of the event, we got to speak with students about litter from each of our organisations' perspectives. The litter pick was part of an assignment. Students were required to note the types of litter and its potential hazards to the ecosystem. A prize was given for the strangest item collected.
Given the levels of litter that have become normalised around Swindon, we need to challenge attitudes. The state of the Oasis, next door to the college's North Star campus, is setting an awful example for young people. Litter picking is a great way for people to learn first hand of the importance of looking after our environment. I'm yet to meet someone who doesn't value and enjoy the experience.
Thanks to Julie and Ollie at Swindon New College for making the event possible. Thanks to Central North Swindon Parish Council and South Swindon Parish Council for providing support, including the huge amount of equipment needed. And thanks to the local RSPCA for more positive collaboration. Nice to be working together again!
Apologies, no images to display; the organisers are still waiting for permissions from the relevant college department.
Bins on Commercial Road
What a difference bins can make to an area. Bin provisions on Commercial Road are the responsibility of the borough council and InSwindon. The good folk at Baristocats tell me that local businesses, fed up with constant littering, have been asking the borough council for bins there for many years, without success. This area gets a lot of footfall and rubbish which then spreads. Where the borough council have failed, South Swindon Parish Council have stepped up. Unable to provide bins on Commercial Road, they have done the next best thing and provided bins at the Commercial Road ends of Deacon Street, Whitney Street, and Eastcott Hill. They are well used and are having larger items placed by them. Good stuff!
The Swindon Hub's been a positive addition to the Swindon landscape, serving the well-being of local communities and with environmental sustainability at its core. So it's nice to start working with them. Selected entries from our Keep Swindon Tidy gallery are on display. Thanks to Josie Slade for creating the displays, and thanks to Pearl for promoting the gallery via Instagram. We have more coming up in the Hub shortly.
Growing South Swindon Community
South Swindon Parish Council recently hosted a volunteer day at Twigs. This provided the basis for the launch of a new organisation called Growing South Swindon Community whose goals are to empower community and transform spaces. It has come about through collective efforts to improve the canal path and Cambria Bridge. Read more.
Our next event is Saturday the 7th May
South Swindon Parish Council launched the new South Swindon Green Trail on the 9th April, a celebration of the beauty of nature around us in Swindon and encouragement to enjoy these areas. We walked the trail beforehand to litter pick in a couple of areas. Plastic tree guards are commonly used to plant new trees. These may protect saplings but at the cost of polluting our environment. So we walked a section of the trail removing these tree guards. It becomes difficult as they merge into trees as they grow. For those considering planting trees, there are friendly alternatives. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust use cardboard tree guards with a wooden pegged jute mat.
Finally for this section, South Swindon Parish Council have launched a Front Garden Competition. This seems a great way to restore some pride in where we live and keep it cleaner.
I am pleased to welcome Andy Waylen of Business West to the local campaign. We met several years ago at Swindon Climate Action Network's Green Drinks. Andy is passionate about the environment. Sustainability is core to his role with Business West. We're working to formulate a plan of action for Refill Swindon. Please get in touch if you're interested in working together to institute reuse in Swindon.
The Big Plastic Count
A collaboration between Refill and Greenpeace, The Big Plastic Count aims to provide a more complete picture on plastic use in the UK. This will be partly used to further pressure the UK government to act.
'Birds and Bees' radio show
3 new local environmental campaigners take over as presenters of the popular Swindon 105.5 community radio show from Glynis Hales. All 3 contribute to Plastic Free Swindon. Read more.
Swindon New College health and well-being event
If you're not aware, the 2 local colleges have merged to become Swindon New College. We attended a health and well-being event over 4 days, 2 days at each campus. It was excellent, a great opportunity to engage with college students, teachers, and other staff. Many thanks to Martin Barlow for making this possible and for his support.
It was particularly interesting that very few people had heard of the now international Refill scheme. This seems to confirm our ideas about Swindon and subsequent focus to raise awareness / inform.
War and plastic
With much public focus on war in Ukraine, we've added the category of war to our library. Thanks to those who suggested articles and websites. War is an important part in the overall picture of plastic production / pollution. This collection of articles shows how the public are deceived and manipulated to serve the interests of malevolent organisations working together for profit and control. Those organisations include the UK government and the oil / plastics industry.
Draconian bill enacted
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was given royal assent on the 28th April, the last stage in its enactment. A "dark day for civil liberties" indeed.
Fracking science review
The UK government ordered a review of fracking science. This is interesting because South Swindon MP Robert Buckland stated to us in 2019 that, 'we will not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely. I personally do not believe that this burden will be discharged by any future applicants'. Questions arise: Why a moratorium rather than a ban, considering the overwhelming evidence that fracking is unsafe in practise? Given the moratorium, partnership with the oil and gas industries and Mr Buckland's statement, it seems the government's intention was to leave the door open to fracking. They're using issues such as health and national security attempting to justify expanding this destructive, polluting, and harmful practise. There are cleaner ways to harness energy. In the US, the proliferation of fracking ramped up plastic production. So many reasons to not frack.
You'll see in our councils section that the current administration of the borough council do not support our campaign, have disinformed the Swindon public, and have excluded plastic pollution from important local measures. Many parish councils on the other hand actively support our work: Central North, Chiseldon, Haydon Wick, Highworth, South, West, and Wroughton. Others passively support our work. I would recommend finding out candidates' positions on plastic pollution before voting!
Copyleft / copyright
The copyright for this website has been updated to include Creative Commons copyleft licenses. The license for most content allows sharing but prohibits alterations.
A major announcement was that microplastics have been found in human blood. Given the situation and our knowledge of other animals, it's not particularly surprising. There's a related petition that you may want to sign, which seeks funding for further research.
You can see other recent additions to the library, sorted by date. There have been many important updates so I would recommend looking through.
That's it for this newsletter. As you may have noticed, there's been a longer gap between newsletters than usual. That may continue to be the case with a heavy workload and health problems. Please take the time to share our work. Thanks for following and supporting the campaign.