Archive for February, 2012

TGiF – Make a Start

February 24th, 2012

“A Girl Who Loves Her Smoke & Wine” (Official Music Video) from Flight Brigade on Vimeo.


February 22nd, 2012

Businesses, charities, students, volunteers and community groups all came together in January for a fun fashion event aimed at highlighting the problem of disposable fashion.

Held at the Town Hall in Oxford it was a free event where anyone could bring their old clothes, buy a refashioned garment or learn crafting and repairing skills. Catwalk shows featuring students and themed performances took place throughout the day.

ReFashion Oxford 2012 from Sustainable Witney on Vimeo.

Jenny Carr from the environmental sustainability team at Oxford City Council: “I had this idea to do a clothes swapping event in the town hall and when I discussed it with colleagues in recycling the idea just snowballed! Fashion is fun, and that’s exactly what we want ReFashion to be about. I’m a keen crafter and love sewing so the event appeals to me on many different levels. I hope others will get enthused to bring their old clothes along to repair, embellish, swap or simply recycle.”

In Oxfordshire around 3% of household rubbish is textiles. This adds up to over 8,000 tonnes of clothes, shoes and fabrics discarded every year which costs local councils over £660,000 to collect and dispose of.

Chairman of Oxfordshire Waste Partnership Cllr Lorraine Lindsay-Gale: “We’re so used to recycling our cans, bottles and paper, but we forget that there are many more items that can be reused and recycled too. Clothes are a perfect example of something that can be reused. Damaged, ripped and tatty clothes can all be recycled into upholstery or rags, but if they’re in good condition then it’s even better to get them worn again; especially if a charity can benefit too.”

People who brought clothes to the event had the option of swapping them for free, passing them to a charity or agent to sell, and could find out how to repair or decorate them or even transform them into something totally different. Clothes that were past their best could be taken to the crafting area, and all the fabric at the end of the event was recycled . Even if people turned up empty handed there were opportunities to purchase clothes, take part in a crafting activity or watch one of the fashion shows.

Lorraine added: “Many people may have had a new injection into their wardrobe over Christmas or from shopping in the sales. Because of this they might want to get rid of their old outfits. By giving our unwanted clothes a new lease of life or letting them be recycled into something totally different, we’re not only reducing the environmental impact of fashion, we’re saving money and ensuring we stay looking stylish!”

There were several charity stands selling good quality second-hand clothing; a stall selling bags made from the left-over material from the outer protection covers on the sides of lorries; toys made from old socks; a swishing stall – ‘swishing’ is clothes swapping – people bringing clothes to the swishing area were given one token per item, they then exchanged their token for another item of clothing that had been brought in by someone else.

I went along to see how it worked and was inspired to see so many people there and such a range of activities and stores on offer. The catwalk demonstrated the quality and possibilities of reusing others unwanted clothes and the crafting was based on such simple ideas that even I, a non sewer, felt I could have a go. ReFashion is on our to-do-list!


Swap Shop at Cogges

February 20th, 2012

A barn, a cafe, 173 people and 476kg of goods were the basic ingredients for this, our third Swap Shop.

With the Corn Exchange closed we had to find a new venue and we are delighted that Cogges offered us an alternative. The barn was a lovely venue, very rustic and a lots of space.

Of the 476kgs of goods brought to swap only 4.1kgs ended up going to landfill. What happens to the other items that are left at the end? Well, leftover electrical items go the WEE bin at Stanton Harcourt Pit, Oxfam take the leftover fabric, and the rest goes to the charity shops in Witney. But the vast majority of the other 472kgs – books, clothes, dvds, videos, garden furniture, tents, phones, games, toys, rucksacks, toiletries, kitchen equipment, TVs, computer equipment – has all been given a new lease of life with new owners.

Crucially the Green Cafe was very popular again. It’s the cafe which makes the Swap Shop self funding by covering the cost of hiring the hall, or in this case the barn. It created a lovely atmosphere with tablecloths, Fairtrade cups, cakes, coffee and tea. Also some very tasty egg & cress and ham salad rolls made with bread from the Oxford Bread Group.

We also had Love Food Hate Waste and the Pudding Pie Cookery School giving out free recipe books and demonstrating simple recipes all morning. They braved the cold just outside the barn and the food was delicious, especially the dutch version of bubble and squeak made with kale and mashed potato. 28 people signed up to the Love Food Hate Waste Pledge.

As well as the 173 swappers that made it a success, we always have a great group of volunteers there from 8am setting up tables, labelling, weighing and arranging the goods into easy to follow categories. Also, Barry Clack of Witney TV came along to film us setting up and find out what else Sustainable Witney is getting up to.

TGiF – Be My Velotine

February 17th, 2012

Once upon a time in London. from Charge Bikes on Vimeo.

Be the Change

February 15th, 2012

On 28th January Steve Mohamed, Michael Richards and I attended an exciting event in Abingdon called “Be the Change: Awakening the Activist Within”. Hosted by Abingdon Quakers, the day included films, workshops and action plans for the the future relating to environmental sustainability, social justice and spiritual fulfilment. We learned a lot about the growing worldwide movement to create a sustainable, fulfilling and just human presence on Earth as the guiding principle of our time. This movement began as a connection between Ecuadorian tribes and Californian environmentalists, which became known as the Pachamama Alliance and is now spreading to all parts of the globe, including Oxfordshire!

The three of us came away thoroughly inspired and eager to set up a similar event in Witney. To this end we’ve spoken to people in Sustainable Witney, Witney Quakers and others who are also keen to progress the idea. The person from the Be the Change initiative who ran the Abingdon event has agreed to run an event for us in Witney. So now we need to find a good venue, a good day and lots of people to come and be inspired! We hope this will lead to action groups around particular environmentally-related interests to make things happen in Witney and beyond.

We plan to hold a meeting in Witney to plan the initial event and will post details on this website.



Could recycling increase for the fourth year running?

February 11th, 2012

Oxfordshire looks set to have record levels of recycling. A recent press release from the Oxfordshire Waste Partnership predicts that 60% of the county’s waste will have been recycled in the year 2011/2012.

It’s an impressive milestone, but how does it compare to historic figures? The Oxfordshire Waste Partnership reports annually, and the resulting document usually has the figures in it somewhere.

» Read more: Could recycling increase for the fourth year running?

Prime Minister Backs Cycle Campaign

February 10th, 2012

The Times Cities fit for cycling David Cameron endorsed the ‘Cities fit for cycling’ campaign this week saying, “As a keen cyclist, I congratulate The Times for drawing attention to this issue. We want to encourage cycling as a cheaper, greener, more healthy way of getting from place to place, and making people feel safe cycling on the roads is crucial to that.”

WitneyBUG has pledged its support to the campaign and the 8-point manifesto. We urge you to do so too by following this link to complete step 1. Do step 2 if you’re on Twitter or Facebook. Forget about step 3, your MP is already signed up.

So why does The Times give a damn about cycling all of a sudden? Is it something to do with the 2012 Olympics? The people best placed to tell you about that are the colleague of a young journalist, and her editor. I can vouch that when a loved one is hit and injured, out of the blue just going from place to place, it makes one think long and hard about road safety.

» Read more: Prime Minister Backs Cycle Campaign

TGiF – Winter Dub

February 10th, 2012

Wintertime – Part Two from Amsterdamize on Vimeo.

Cogges Link Road: a 12-week wait expected

February 10th, 2012

According to Witney First, the inspector’s report on the Cogges Link Road public inquiry has definitely been finished and submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for checking before submission to the Transport Secretary for her final decision.

Witney First expects the decision to be made “some time in the next 12 weeks”, so the first week of April or possibly late March.

Inquiry decision weeks away

February 8th, 2012

We wrote yesterday that there was uncertainty surrounding the Cogges Link Road verdict. Sustainable Witney contacted the inquiry’s programme officer, Graham Groom, to find out what was going on and he got back to us today. “I believe the Inspector has submitted his Report to the Planning Inspectorate but now comes several weeks of ‘consideration’ by the Secretary of State before the decision is announced.

The Oxford Mail has also been in touch with Mr Groom and received a very similar answer.

The relevant Secretary of State in this case is Transport Secretary Justine Greening, not Eric Pickles as we incorrectly wrote in November’s FAQ post.

Cogges Link Road: awaiting the verdict

February 8th, 2012

Remember the public inquiry about the Cogges Link Road? The Sustainable Witney blog, with help from Witney First, brought you daily summaries of the inquiry, which ended in November.

The final report from the planning inspector was due out on 6 February. This report will give the planning inspector’s recommendation about whether or not a compulsory purchase order should be served on the Mawle Trust, forcing the Trust to sell land that Oxfordshire County Council needs to build the road. However, as alert readers will have spotted, Monday 6 February has been and gone.

It is not clear whether the report will go to the Secretary of State and other interested parties before being made public. It is also unclear whether or not the report has actually been completed as yet. The consultancy managing the inquiry is called Persona Associates and part of their website is dedicated to the CLR inquiry. However, these webpages have not been updated since the inquiry closed.

Sustainable Witney will bring you more news as and when we get it.

TGiF – Our Town

February 3rd, 2012

It’s Dinner Time!

February 1st, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the second DinnerTime event hosted at the Turl Street Kitchen, Oxford, to see if we would like to introduce the idea to Witney.

DinnerTime is a celebration of food, family and friends. The idea is to reclaim food in your community by making and sharing a meal together once a month, reducing the amount of food we throw away and maybe gaining a new skill along the way.

This particular event was a test run for the new ‘How to…’ guide to help enable groups to start their own community kitchens.

So how did it work?

» Read more: It’s Dinner Time!