Newsletter issue 7

2nd May 2021

Council elections 2021

It is vital that the borough council work towards a system of zero waste. We wrote to each party ahead of the 2021 council elections to convey important information and ask whether they will support the implementation of a system of zero waste in Swindon. Read in full.

Right understanding

Keep Swindon Tidy poster.  A full recycling box.  Reads, 'Reduce, reuse, recycle'

Part of the Noble Eightfold Pathway of Buddhist philosophy. Peace requires right understanding. Fear is connected to delusion. If we are going to reach collective enlightenment and end suffering, including from plastic pollution, we need to be spreading the right info. Education is a huge part of campaigns like Plastic Free Swindon. Work has been ongoing over the last year to build the website as a resource for our campaign. We have sought to facilitate education, providing simple core messages:

  • Yes to a system of zero waste.
  • No to a system of plastic recycling, landfill, and waste incineration.

We were recently contacted by Sarah Lonsdale, a journalist for The Guardian and The Times. She wanted to write an article on Britain's greenest streets and enquired whether we could provide any useful links. There was a problem though. She was looking for an article on neighbourhoods which excelled at recycling. We conveyed the problems of plastic recycling, waste incineration and landfill, of creating and recycling materials of all sorts, including paper. We then provided the case for systems of zero waste instead. The article remit was hence changed. We connected Sarah with Sustainable Shrivenham, as they are doing some great things on the zero waste front. The Times published this article about them. Job done.

Thanks to Robert Ayres of SKIP (Stop Keypoint Incinerator Project) for taking the time to write so beatifully for the zero waste article.

Keep Swindon Tidy

Focus on this positive campaign continues.

Haydon Wick posters
Keep Swindon Tidy poster.  The Earth is wearing a mask.  It reads, 'Don't be sick!  Clean Haydon Wick.  Litter is like a virus for the planet so bin it!'

Haydon Wick parish council have been supportive of our campaign. They organised a poster competition with a prize for the best entry and have displayed posters around their parish. Some of them are available in our gallery and on the parish council's Facebook page. Thanks especially to Laura and Jo of the parish council for their support.

The importance of positive actions and respect

Jess Halsall, a central south Swindon resident, has recently worked on a community project to transform an area of the old canal path by Cambria Bridge. The area in question has been treated badly for years and attracted much litter. It's an area that we regularly litter pick. After making a beautiful transformation with much support from the local community and parish council, the area is kept much cleaner. Another issue that has recently been sorted out has been the waste mountain that was allowed to accumulate at the top of Cambria Bridge. This was blowing rubbish all over the place. A combination of positive activities to make a big difference to this area. Like attracts like. If an area is littered, it is more likely to be littered. If an area is respected, it is more likely to be respected. Respect goes both ways.

Hope springs eternal

Moya Pinson has been doing excellent work and has been so supportive of the Keep Swindon Tidy campaign and myself. She is 78 and has been regularly organising litter picks in Westlea since 2015. They have a large group of litter pickers whose ages range from infants to seniors. From such wells of community activity springs hope and positive change. She has been actively working with West Swindon Parish Council to sort out litter problems. For example, they noticed that litter was collecting in the area around a bin outside a KFC. It transpires that rubble was being put in the bin, filling it too quickly. Action was taken to move the bin and provide another. Positive action 1, rumination 0.

The plastic glove pandemic

Moya also notified the parish council about a problem that is probably UK wide. Plastic gloves from petrol stations are littered all over. Where Moya lives, the petrol station is owned by Asda. The local parish council wrote to Asda but they are not doing anything about it. I suggested to Moya that she watches a documentary about Asda Walmart called The High Price of Low Cost. It details how Walmart have destroyed communities in the USA. Back to plastic gloves: I also contacted petrol stations. I was told by one area manager that the use of plastic gloves has gone from 10% of customers using them to 90%! This is awful for health and for the environment. Littering of these gloves poisons our local environment and endangers wildlife. We are furthering disease, pollution, climate change and mass extinction in our attempts to stop the spread of Covid. Does that seem ridiculous to anyone else? More on plastic gloves next month, as there has been a development...

Oasis for all

Josie Lewis also continues to do some some great work, setting the example, raising awareness and making change. She has been litter picking on her own and with us, so supportive in many ways. As previously mentioned, she campaigns on open spaces. Of particular interest is the Oasis. Read our second Oasis blog.

Posters into leaflets

We have been delivering Keep Swindon Tidy leaflets to compliment other activities towards cementing positive cultural changes. One side contains one of four Keep Swindon Tidy designs chosen from the gallery. The other contains information about the campaign, encouraging people to take responsibility for their waste. Thanks to those kind leaflet deliverers for volunteering your time: Fareed, Moya, Sue, Andy.

Fractals of inspiration

Sarah Church set up Keep Swindon Tidy, inspired by Keep Britain Tidy. FYI, we are not connected to that organisation. Mark from Bristol got in touch with us. He said that he was inspired by the Keep Swindon Tidy campaign and wanted to get involved in litter picks where he lives. Bristol, it transpires, also has awful litter problems. We pointed him towards a couple of Bristol groups, one of which he has now joined. He has since contacted his local MP, asking for changes.

Corporate responsibility

After cleaning the Mannington to Blagrove area, we wrote to a company called CHEV Swindon / Grupo Medrano, detailing the appalling state of the woodland around their grounds. Lorry drivers using their site were failing to use bins, instead throwing litter of all sorts over the fence in to the woodland. This included bags of human poo and bottles of wee! This adds new meaning to the song lyrics, "If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise..." The company have agreed to speak with drivers and patrol the grounds collecting litter. Given the awful state of litter generally at the Blagrove industrial estate, West Swindon parish council are also looking into how to make and consolidate changes there.


Kill the bill!

...the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that is. We now have a dedicated section on it, which includes a response from Robert Buckland which I would describe as void of substance. I sought to set the record straight in my response. Read in full.

Another peaceful protest will take place in Swindon this Saturday 8th May 2021, part of a national day of action. I highly suggest having a read of the excellent comments on this bill from John Turnbull of Acorn Swindon in this Swindon Advertiser article.

Trade deal shenanigans

Efforts to sell us out to corporations via trade deals continue. These trade deals threaten our ability to deal with global crises, including plastic pollution, in various ways. We deal with one 'trade deal', then the government attempt to sell us out via another. Such free trade deals are fundamentally being used as tools of oppression for corporate domination. The UK has signed a trade agreement with Canada. Such agreements are likely to enshrine corporate courts in law. So, it's vital to take action and share these 2 petitions:

Not content with selling us out via one route, the UK government have also requested to sign up to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) rebranded. Such rebranding and obfuscation are commonly used as strategies to diminish opposition. The TPP was that region's version of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). TTIP had huge opposition to it. For those new to such 'free trade' deals, we have written a simple article with focus on plastic pollution.

Ban the plastic bag

A considerate soul has set up a petition for supermarkets to replace fossil fuel derived plastic bags with compostable plastic bags. The Co-op seem to be leading the way on this. It's a step in the right direction although reuse is preferable, as the use of bioplastics requires resources, impacts the environment and can be problematic if not disposed of correctly. Please sign and share.

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