Newsletter issue 4

14th January 2021

Happy New Year to you all. Let's make it a positive, inspiring 2021!

Video credit
Keep Swindon Tidy Day

And so we started the new year with such determination; a statement of positive intent. The first Keep Swindon Tidy Day happened on the 2nd January 2021. It was a well supported and positive day. Full write up including picture gallery here.

Keep Swindon Tidy Day collage of litter pickers and the rubbish they collected.  Icon of a person putting rubbish in a bin is centred.
Oasis to rubbish dump

A few of us recently cleaned up the skate park at the back of the Oasis leisure centre. This council-owned land is currently leased to Seven Capital, who have clearly neglected to look after it. Back in the nineties it was a popular venue, with hundreds of people regularly turning out to watch BMXing. Fast forward to the present and the site is another victim of austerity. It is still used by many today, adults and children alike. So it was a pleasure to clean up this space for those people.

Acorn logo; the letter o contains an acorn.  Reads, 'Association of community organisations for reform now'
Image credit

I'd like to draw your attention to a campaign by the Swindon branch of Acorn, a union who campaign for a better quality of life for local communities. Acorn Swindon are campaigning to keep the Oasis leisure centre in public hands. Privatisation has not served communities well. Over the last 40 years, we have seen global capitalism profit at the expense of communities, animals and environment, with supposedly public institutions serving private interests. Waste and pollution are by-products of those manufactured inequalities.

No to incineration!
Stop Keypoint Incinerator Project logo.  An incinerator covered by the banned sign
Image credit

In the UK and many countries around the world, incineration has become the preferred method of hiding the outcomes of our destructive and polluting system and lifestyles. We have written an article discussing why we oppose waste incineration, including the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator at South Marston and another in nearby Westbury. We also discuss the misleading promotion by Swindon Borough Council of the Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) plant in Cheney Manor as environmentally and socially beneficial. Read article.

Waste Free February
Waste Free February logo, arrows indicate a natural cycle
Image credit

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Waste Free February is coming up. Waste free challenges can be a helpful way to learn, empowering, beneficial to health, good for the environment in many ways, and good for local communities. Some of the Plastic Free Swindon team got started on our plastic free journeys through either Waste Free February or Plastic Free July. For tips, there are a huge amount of resources. This Friends of the Earth article provides good tips for those starting out, as an example.

For those of you who have already taken steps to reduce your plastic consumption, how about encouraging friends and family to take the challenge? As my Yogi teabags tell me, 'Spread the light, be the lighthouse'. My tip for you is to simplify and buy local organic wholefoods. To do so reduces all kinds of negative environmental impacts, reduces costs, increases health including immunity, supports the local economy, supports fair trade / good working conditions…

The long wait finally ends
EU flag minus one star
Image credit

After almost 6 months, we finally got a response from Robert Buckland regarding the agreement of both local MPs for him to meet with us. We would like to discuss the possible impacts of trade deals, the Plastic Pollution Bill and the Environment Bill. So why have we waited so long? This article on the Swindon Climate Action Network website provides information about recent trade deals and expresses concerns that upcoming trade deals are about corporate domination and protectionism, diminishing envrionmental protections and making it harder to introduce effective legislation without being sued in corporate courts. We have asked Robert Buckland 2 questions seeking assurance:

  • Will trade deals further plastic pollution in any way?
  • Will trade deals make it more difficult to introduce effective legislation to reduce plastic pollution?
At the time of writing we have asked these questions 3 times and are still waiting for responses. Note that the UK government isn't involved in a new global treaty to tackle plastic pollution. We will focus on government in an upcoming newsletter.

Supermarkets action

Uk supermarkets currently generate 900,000 tonnes of plastic packaging every year. That amount has risen over the last few years despite clear information on the extent of plastic pollution, despite multiple campaigns asking them to reduce their plastic usage. Two questions spring to mind: Would supermarkets be able to survive without cheap, light plastic to transport goods long distances? Are UK supermarkets, the primary vendors of petroleum in the UK, connected to the oil industry? Greenpeace's petition seeks for supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic. Is that a realistic aim for such organisations?

The global food system is broken. Although there is enough fertile land in the world to grow food for everyone, industrial agriculture feeds corporate profits instead of people.

- War on Want

Note given to Sainsbury, reads, 'I am a loyal Sainsbury customer but I don't want your single-use plastic any more!!!  I will be looking elsewhere!  Take plastic seriously!!  We all have grandchildren.'

There are many reasons to not support supermarkets. After the second world war, food was used as a weapon, to oppress. The global food system that has developed from that is one of waste, oppression. and suffering. A third of food is wasted! This system serves big business; they disempower small farmers, empoverish people, poison our planet in various ways, strangle local economies, abuse animals, destroy soils and use obscene amounts of single-use plastics.

Every little helps...

... them line their pockets at our expense. The global food system is not fit for purpose. For all reasons outlined and more, it is vital to support local, independent and organic. Our campaign aims reflect the interactions between such social and environmental issues.

Thanks for reading and following our campaign! If you find our work of value, please take the time to share.