Newsletter issue 5

14th February, Valentine's Day 2021

Keep Swindon Tidy spreads the love

Draw the change...

Following on from the first Keep Swindon Tidy Day, our focus remains on this campaign to encourage us to take responsibility for our waste. We are so pleased to have received many inspiring new entries to the poster gallery, mainly from younger Swindondians. It's heartening to see that important envrironmental messages are being relayed by our younger people. Some of these posters are destined for signposts around Swindon.

Keep Swindon Tidy poster.  It reads, 'Do not litter! Keep Swindon tidy!'  There are many small love hearts and flowers.  A rainbow at the top with the planet Earth below.  It has 2 girls by a bin, one is holding a drink.  One girl says, 'Avoid using plastic.  Bin it when you're finished.'  The other girl says, 'Clean up your mess like us'

To engage teens and young adults in this campaign, we are working on a graffiti project with Peter Cowdy, a local muralist from Artsite (see the My Town, My World project). The idea is for him to mentor local upcoming artists to paint Keep Swindon Tidy murals. Watch this space…

Be the change...

It's great to see and hear reports of littering picking activity all over Swindon. Dealing with litter can help us start to deal with the causes of litter:

Keep Swindon Tidy poster.  It reads, 'No planet B.  Keep Swindon Tidy.'  It portrays a hedehog in nature surrounded by litter such as sweet wrappers and multipack can holders.
  • In West Swindon, local litter pick organiser Moya Pinson has been working with the local parish council to try and stem the flow of littered plastic gloves from Asda’s petrol station. We have also written to a local garage. According to the response we received, the use of plastic gloves have increased by about 9 times because of Covid concerns. This is no good for wildlife or people, attempting to limit the spread of disease by spreading further disease. See the Summer of Refills campaign and the COVID-19 section of our library for further details.
  • Litter picks certainly highlight the need for strong legislation to change how we live. Local activist Josie Lewis has been litter picking in Wroughton: “Contents through from Church Hill and the 100m length of verge by Waitrose were: Car parts, electrical wiring, kids toys, bags of dog poo, plastic bottles, vodka bottles, cans, clothing, sheet glass, food wrappers, takeaway coffee cups, fast food cartons, loose change (21p), scrap metal, polystyrene, builders rubble, hubcaps, bits of car tyre, empty crisp bags, chocolate wrappers, dog food cans, plastic bags and wrapping, broken car number plates, bits of rag, broken plastic buckets, household waste, plumbing bits and pieces, and the proverbial fag butts…”
  • In central north Swindon, we have been further cleaning the area around the Oasis in support of efforts led by commmunity union Acorn Swindon to restore the leisure centre and surrounding space to its former glory for community use. Positive community action for positive change.
  • Remember the bog of eternal stench in the Labyrinth film? We found it! In central south Swindon, two of us have been busy litter picking areas close to the town centre. It took us around two hours on the first pick to clean up a 25m section of raised beds. Predominantly the litter consisted of glass bottles, cans and plastic bottles. There were a lot of needles also, as is the case around Swindon. It is not surprising to see so much litter from drug (including alcohol) use; drug use is correlated to inequality; inequality is correlated to waste (and other environmental issues); social crises correlated with environmental crises.
  • Thank you so much to the poster makers, parish councils, community groups, litter pickers and others for supporting this campaign and making a difference.

    The government spread the fear

    On the 9th February 2021, the government again voted against giving Parliament the ability to vote on future trade deals. Both of Swindon’s MPs were among those to vote through these anti-democratic measures.

    There are concerns that our democracy is being subverted by a government whose actions do not align with their words, that trade deals will be used to further corporate dominance and institute protectionist measures. We wrote an article expressing concerns relating to plastic pollution. There is a more in-depth article covering wider environmental issues on the Swindon Climate Action Network website.

    No assurances

    Given the concerns outlined in those articles, we wrote to both local MPs for assurances on trade deals, asking these questions:

    1. Will trade deals further plastic pollution in any way?
    2. Will trade deals make it more difficult to introduce effective legislation to reduce plastic pollution?

    It was agreed that South Swindon MP, Robert Buckland, would represent both north and south Swindon in this matter. He won’t provide a written yes or no answer. We will continue to press on this important area.

    9 year old sets the example

    9 year old Lizzie A set up this petition to stop the UK government from exporting our plastic waste to poorer countries. UK councils including Swindon Borough Council have until recently been sending our plastic waste to countries such as Turkey and Taiwan. Our message to the government is clear, support the Plastic Pollution Bill to reduce plastic production.

    Incineration debate

    For those of you new to the subject, see this article by UKWIN and this one by us. Parliament recently debated incineration, summarised in this article by the UK WIthout Incineration Network (UWWin). Incineration is another way to attempt to hide the pollution which occurs through the current unhealthy system of production and waste. It's important that we don't accept such greenwash and keep pushing for genuine solutions to these problems. For social media users, please share UKWIN's Facebook post and / or Tweet.

    Keep Swindon Tidy poster.  A sunny scene with just a few clouds.  3 happy girls are in grass by trees and a dustbin.  One is water flowers.  It reads, 'Keep Swindon tidy.  Plant trees.  Use dustbin'
    Thanks for supporting our campaign.
    Please spread the love this Valentine's Day and share.