Archive for October, 2013

Plastics talk in East Oxford

October 30th, 2013

Would you like to have less plastic packaging in your life? Kate Griffin of Sustainable Witney is giving a talk on lower-plastic living on Monday 18th November.

All are welcome to attend the free talk at the Restore Cafe on Manzil Way, Oxford (off Cowley Road). This talk is organised by Low Carbon East Oxford. Arrive 7:45pm for an 8pm start.

If you can’t make it but want to know more, take a look at the Plastic-Free July Survival Guide for some useful tips.

Five reasons to switch to Ecotricity

October 27th, 2013

Been meaning to switch your household energy to a green supplier? Here are five reasons to switch to Ecotricity as soon as possible.

Electricity will probably be cheaper than your current tariff. Ecotricity used to price-match the standard electricity tariffs of the six biggest energy companies in the UK. Now it’s going one better: it’s promising to undercut the standard electricity tariffs of the “Big Six”.  How? Well, Ecotricity has invested in green energy to the point where around 40% of the energy supplied to customers is actually generated by Ecotricity projects. That means it’s less vulnerable to shocks in global wholesale energy prices. Most UK energy customers are still on a standard tariff, which means the majority of people could save on their electricity bill by switching to Ecotricity.

When you phone them, you get through to a human straight away. Ecotricity doesn’t have call centres as such; when you ring them (on 08000 302 302) you’re basically ringing the office. There aren’t any targets about handling call volumes and the person who answers the phone is empowered to actually make decisions, offer information and generally handle your query in the way they think best. This revolutionary approach – treating staff and customers like human beings – results in nine out of ten queries being dealt with in a single call.

They’re top of the league for customer service. For the past three years, energy regulator Ofgem has required energy companies to report the customer complaints in a way that can be compared. Ofgem don’t publish these results – that would be too easy! But Ecotricity does publish them, in its annual reports. And guess who’s been top of the customer service league table for the past three years? You guessed it: Ecotricity.

They’re top of the league for green investment. This is another area where nobody else is compiling the figures, making it tough for consumers to compare. But Ecotricity does; you can see the numbers at Obviously it takes time to get a renewable energy project going, so it’s not helpful just to look at short-term data. But over the nine years that Ecotricity has been recording the figures, a pattern is clear: most of the big names in energy are spending a tiny fraction of their profits on renewables investment. You might expect British Gas parent group Centrica to be a bit rubbish (0.1p per £1) but even green supplier Good Energy is only spending 4.3p per £1. Co-operative Energy and Green Energy UK are even worse, spending precisely 0p on renewables projects. Ecotricity comfortably tops the table with a spend of 50p per £1.

They’ll help Sustainable Witney – or the charity of your choice. When you switch to Ecotricity and quote the code SUSW1 , Ecotricity will give a £50 donation to Sustainable Witney – at no extra cost to you. We’re a volunteer-run organisation with low overheads, but we do have some costs – like venue hire when we run events such as ReFashion or swapshops. Money from people switching to Ecotricity allows us to cover those costs and keep our events free.

So what are you waiting for? Ring 08000 302 302 and switch today! (And please quote the code SUSW1 too.)

Thermal imaging of homes starts next week: sign up here

October 27th, 2013

Want to find out how to keep your house warmer, for less money? In November, Sustainable Witney will have possession of a thermal imaging camera for the first time in the 2013/2014 season. So if you’re worried you might have a draught too many, or you normally just can’t get the house warm whatever you do, then our voluntary service might help, and you can sign up by emailing us your street address here.

We’ll take thermal images of the outside of your house, and with these to hand, you can more easily work out what improvements to your home can have the most impact on its insulating properties. We’ll even have a public meeting on 11 March 2014, where we’ll give you a printout of your images, explain the results, and offer you a one-on-one consultation with an expert.

As always, we’ll be prioritizing Witney residents – we’re all doing this in our spare time of an evening, and a whole week of nights can often be made unsuitable by the weather alone – but if you’re in one of the surrounding villages then do still sign up, as we’re considering running a separate scheme for those.

While the first serious cold front of winter is approaching the UK, and while the energy companies are getting into trouble for price hikes (all except Ecotricity, who now offer 100% green energy at less than the big suppliers!) then you might think it’s the perfect time to email us on, and get on the list for thermal imaging.

(As always, because of the nature of the survey, which is very weather sensitive; and because we’re volunteer-run and have limited time available: we can’t guarantee a time or date. But we’ll let you know when your house has been imaged! We should also be clear: there’ll be no commercial involvement in the public meeting, and no pressure to buy any product or service.)


October 25th, 2013

Protestant Work Ethic – Softer Waves {Official Music Video} from OSTBLOK on Vimeo.

Swap and Repair, Oxford

October 24th, 2013

Come to the Assembly Room at Oxford Town Hall for the first Oxford Swap and Fix event. Bring along the broken things you don’t have a clue how to fix and would otherwise throw out: busted hairdryers, trousers with broken zips and so on. Experts may be able to repair them and give them a new lease of life.

You can also bring things that aren’t broken but you don’t want them any more: CDs, clothes, bric-a-brac and so on. Leave them at the Swap Shop for someone else to take; one person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure!

The event is 10am-2pm.

Recycling water filter cartridges in Witney

October 23rd, 2013
Three used water filters on table

It’s the reason why your boiler furs up and your taps look dull – yes, Witney is in a hard-water area. That’s why lots of local people choose to use water filters. So what do you do with the used filter cartridges? If you use the common Brita brand you’re in luck – it’s easy to recycle them in Witney.

Where can I get my used water filter cartridges recycled?

Several Witney stores have collection boxes where you can drop off your used cartridges for recycling:

Argos (Market Square)
Cargo (near the Woolgate car park)
Robert Dyas (Market Square, next to Argos!)

It’s free and you probably won’t have to talk to anyone either – just drop them in the box.

Box for placing used filter cartridges

Recycling box in the Witney branch of Cargo.

What happens to the cartridges after I put them in the box?

According to the BRITA website, the plastic body of the cartridge is pre-cleaned and then ground up into a granulate which goes on to become other plastic things. The filtering material (the dark bit inside) is split into two parts: activated carbon, which is returned to the manufacturer and reactivated for other uses, and ion exchangers, which go through a thorough purification process before being reused to make new water filter cartridges.

Is it actually worth recycling them?

Definitely. The recycling process requires considerably less energy than turning crude oil into new plastic materials. Also, anybody who followed us for Plastic-Free July will know that plastic items don’t just disappear into thin air when you’ve finished with them; they end up in landfill, or, worse, in the oceans.

As for the transport logistics, Brita organises things so that the vehicle delivering new cartridges to a store will carry used cartridges from that store on its way back. In other words, recycling the cartridges doesn’t involve any extra journeys.

Why didn’t I know this before?

For some reason, there’s nothing about recycling filter cartridges on the Oxfordshire County Council Recycling A-Z, or on the Recycle Now website. This blog post was written purely so that this information would be on the web in easy-to-find form for Witney residents. If any of your neighbours ask about water filter cartrige recycling in Witney, please point them to this post!


October 18th, 2013

The Spark of a Legacy from Legacy Frameworks on Vimeo.

Street Life

October 12th, 2013

Behind the Bike – Preview from CoClick on Vimeo.

A Man, His Dog, & His Bikes

October 4th, 2013

The Craftsman | Sacha White with Vanilla Bicycles from Kevin Winzeler on Vimeo.