Archive for the ‘General’ category

Your Views on Sustainable Witney

May 21st, 2016

Over the past few years Sustainable Witney has helped its local community to save waste from landfill, revitalise pre-loved clothing, educate on subjects such as gardening, food and energy efficiency for your home, promote green travel choices and encourage responsible consumption.

Our small team of organisers and trusted volunteers are always looking to improve what we do and we’re currently reviewing our priorities, activities and the links we have with our members, followers and partners. We’d like to gather your views and experiences so later in the year we can run a public event to share ideas for new initiatives to meet our core aim of ‘making life simple’ in the community of Witney.

Your feedback is valuable which is why we’ve created a basic questionnaire. Click here to access. It should only take a few minutes to complete.


Responses will only be collected until June 3rd and all data will be used in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.


Thank you for your continued support.


Glen Pascoe

Jenny’s 10 Tips for Sustainable Living

March 22nd, 2015

New Sustainable Witney blogger Jenny Guildford offers advice for living more sustainably.

I’d like to share my top 10 tips for a sustainable lifestyle. I’ve been learning how to live more sustainably over the years, so it’s time to impart some useful eco tips!

washing-up sponge1. Break up with disintegrating washing-up sponges

End the habit of using endless disposable washing-up sponges – you know the kind you buy at the supermarket and end up chucking in the bin after a few weeks. Instead, invest in a washing-up cloth that can be thrown into the washing machine after a few weeks (with other things) and used over and over again. I’ve used Euro Scrubby successfully for the past year.

2. Spend more on less

Treat every purchase as a long-term investment. Depending on your budget, always try to buy the best you can afford and you’ll end up spending less in the long run – and save landfill from filling up with multiple (broken) items.

3. Paint the home green, not red

Thinking of re-vamping your home this spring? Earthborn produce the most luxurious, clay-based environmentally-friendly paints on the market. They’re also great for solid walls as they allow them to breathe – perfect for Cotswold stone cottages! Claypaint and Eggshell both come in a range of 60 gorgeous colours.

Several candles in glasses with a twig design4. Burning the eco candle at both ends?

Opt for a soy wax candle. Soy candles are sustainable, non-toxic and non-carcinogenic. I particularly love this Domestic Goddess candle.

5. Filtered water is better than bottled, and more!

We all know that filtering water at home is a better option for the planet than buying endless bottles of the stuff. Well, you can go one better than this. Choose bamboo charcoal to filter your water instead. You can even use the spent charcoal as a moisture trap – and then go on to use it in the garden or allotment to increase water retention! This is a completely natural and biodegradable option. Visit Charcoal People.

6. Do you need to buy it new?

Ask yourself this question every time you need something new: ‘Do I absolutely need to buy it new, or can I get it second-hand?’ With the power of the Internet, it’s very easy to source second-hand items instead of buying new each time. Hunting out bargains in vintage stores, charity shops or car boot sales can also be good fun! Freecycle is a brilliant resource too.

7. Ladies, please!

Use washable cleansing pads instead of disposable cotton wool pads that end up in landfill. Particularly good for removing eye make-up. I received these for my birthday last year and haven’t looked back!

Three onions in a row

8. Loosen up

Supermarkets really don’t mind if you put loose fruit or vegetables on the conveyor belt. I’ve been doing this for years and haven’t once been given any funny looks by sales assistants.

9. You’re a firestarter, twisted firestarter

For those of you with an open fire – or even better – a wood burning or multifuel stove, keep all junk mail that arrives through the letterbox, spent receipts and envelopes that you cannot reuse, to use as fire lighting material.

10. Be a natural

Try to buy clothing and other textiles that are made from natural fibres such as cotton, wool, silk, kapok, jute, sisal, bamboo, hemp, alpaca, or linen. The list goes on! It’s estimated that almost 2,000 microfibres get rinsed out of each piece of synthetic clothing every time it’s washed, which then ends up in our oceans. Read more about this here.

Happy sustainable living!

Come to our Christmas drinks, Wednesday 17 December

November 25th, 2014

You’re invited to our Christmas drinks, on Wednesday 17 December, just off Church Green!

This event to say thank you to our members for a great year, and to celebrate our five-year anniversary which is this December. We’re also welcoming new members and hope to chat with interested people from other local groups or just from the general public.

The fun starts at 7.30pm; we’ve got the room booked in St Mary’s Church; we’ve planned mince pies, mulled wine and more: so come and celebrate with us!

(Please do let us know if you’re coming, so we can make sure we’ve got enough of everything.)

Words & Numbers

June 6th, 2013

TinTinThis week the ‘greenest government ever‘ voted down an amendment to include a 2030 decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill. This was despite its own Tim Yeo tabling the amendment and that touchstone for environmental thinking among zillionaires, Zac Goldsmith, voting in favour.

It seems targets, like statistics, can be misused. While other numbers, like this unhelpful 3 digit offender lurking within 400ppm, can be safely ignored.


I’d intended to take a look at just what the phrase ‘greenest government ever’ actually meant alongside a new power to veto windfarms. I was going to draw a witty parallel between Europe interfering in the affairs of a certain member state and Britain blocking Italy’s ban on plastic bags. I’d lined up a seamless segue into tonight’s Beecause talk in the Fleece by way of said member state opposing a ban on harmful pesticides based on crap science. But what’s the point?

If words don’t mean what they say and numbers can’t be used to measure them what’s the point in writing them down?

Yesterday was World Environment Day.

Farmers’ Market, Market Square

February 21st, 2013

We have a stall at Witney Farmer’s Market on the last Friday of the month, which is 22nd February this month. We’re there from 8:30am to 1:30pm so drop by for a chat.

It has a good variety of stalls selling bread, vegetables, preserves, cakes, meat and beer.

If you go down to the library…

January 15th, 2013

… You’re sure of a big surprise. Well, you’ll encounter the Sustainable Witney display anyway:

SW display in the library, with bunting and other upcycled and recrafted things

We’ve taken over the library vestibule for a week to showcase some of the amazing things we’ve been doing. Along with pictures and information about Refashion, thermal imaging and our swapshops, we’ve added a few upcycled and recrafted bits and pieces: a quilt and bunting, by Mary Marshall; a vinyl record bowl, by Katharine Mann; and Tetrapak wallets, by all of us at the SW AGM (under the tuition of Helen Osborne from Barracks Lane).

It all gives you some idea what we’re about, and the kind of sustainable world and lifestyle we’d like to promote. So have a look in, if you’re going past! As if you need an excuse to go to the library….

Sustainable Witney meeting, this Thursday (30 August)

August 28th, 2012

Apologies for the late notice: Sustainable Witney’s committee are meeting at 6.30pm this Thursday (30 August). It will be at 17, The Springs, off Corn Street. There’s lots of exciting projects to discuss:

  • commissioning feasibility studies for a possible car club
  • planning when to have the AGM
  • thermal imaging comes to Witney this winter
  • and we finally have a date for our Refashion event! (more on that later)
  • plus! other stuff

… so do come along if you’d be interested in helping out. Many of these projects are already ongoing, so don’t feel you’re going to get volunteered for anything big if you do turn up! And new faces are always welcome.

SW meeting, last Wednesday

May 26th, 2012

We had a meeting at the Fleece last Wednesday. There was a lot to discuss:

  • Refashion: Saturday 3 November is the date that Refashion comes to Witney! This will be all about clothes upcycling, and includes workshops and a “swishing” event.

    We agreed a few new actions, including getting in touch with local charity shops and independents for clothes seconds; because the Oxfordshire Waste Partnership (including OCC and WODC) are directing a lot of the event, it takes most of the strain of organizing off us!

  • Car club: Kevin has been doing sterling work getting together funding, in order to take advantage of the suggestion from a not-for-profit that they might trial a Witney car club. However, the organization has recently said that they’ll only help out in a franchise arrangement – so we would have to set up a company, employ a fleet manager for the cars etc. – and we don’t have the time available to do that.

    However, the work hasn’t all been in vain: we’ll be putting everything together, along with documentation of the foibles we’ve worked out, in case the right people make themselves known to run such a company; and we’ve also made contact with commercial providers. So there are still possibilities in the future and we’ll keep pursuing them.

  • Carbon conversations: these are intentionally small workshops – around half a dozen attendees – where people can share knowledge and skills to reduce their own carbon footprints. The idea is also that perhaps one in ten of these attendees go on to run their own workshop elsewhere.

    The first series, starting in late June, are already booked up; we’ve also got 3 or 4 people for the second round of workshops. If you’re interested in getting involved, then get in touch.

We also discussed possible awards applications for Sustainable Witney, and events for Bike Week in just under a month’s time. The Bike Week schedule should appear on this site soon!

The next SW meeting will probably be in a couple of months – register as a subscriber if you want to receive alerts!

Sustainable Witney meets Sustainable Elsewhere

April 27th, 2012

A week ago yesterday, Brigitte and I attended a social event for CAG Oxfordshire. CAGs, or Community Action Groups, are local volunteer groups “[organising] events and initiatives to raise awareness and take action on climate change issues” – Sustainable Witney is officially one of them, and they’re all networked through the tireless efforts of Simon Kenton and Peter Lefort.

Although we’d neither of us turn down free wine and some of Simon’s home-made dips, Brigitte and I agreed that the main reason to turn up was to talk to other likeminded people in CAGs from the length and breadth of the county (in the case of the Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative, nearly in Wiltshire!) That way we could more easily work out how we might all help each other with our events, and also share knowledge and resources.

If CAG Oxfordshire is all about the network, then this event was all about the networking! That meant that ultimately it was inspiring and useful in roughly equal measures. On the one hand it reminded me of all the work that Sustainable Witney is trying and succeeding to do; at the same time, it got us to share both the effort and the fruits of our labour with other organizations.

And so while we were talking to Westmill Co-Op about our plans for Bike Week 2012, we also formulated some plans to maybe lead a ride out there on the Saturday and link up with lots of other local groups at an open day; while we were finding out about Groundwork Thames Valley’s spinoff Oxfordshire Green Schools, we also discussed pooling our resources to promote a possible future ReFashion event in Witney; and when I went to say hello to a master composter to see what they were up to, he incidentally mentioned that I needn’t put the effort in to turn my whole compost heap. My own lumbar regions will be grateful for that last, chance meeting, for some time to come.

CAG Oxfordshire helps Sustainable Witney to do great things, and we’ve got a lot of them in the pipeline. So watch this space.

Meeting, Mulled Wine, Mince Pies

December 9th, 2011

We’re meeting in Cogges Farm Cafe this Monday evening (the 12th) for mulled wine, mince pies and a chat. That starts at 8pm so do drop in.

The committee will be there from 6:30pm to discuss our projects, which if you’re interested in getting involved with you’re welcome to come along to and join in.

Wanted: Swap Shop Volunteers

March 10th, 2011

We need more volunteers to help the Swap Shop to run smoothly on Saturday 19th March.

Between 8am and 1pm help is needed to set up tables, weigh goods, sort goods into type, to work in the cafe, and to clear up.

Replies to me please by Monday:

Thanks, Brigitte.

Well Oiled

July 16th, 2010

Finally some good news from the Gulf of Mexico – BP have managed to stem the flow of oil for the first time. It’s not clear if it’s a permanent solution yet, but if it is then a line can drawn on the balance sheet and the total cost calculated.

The Greenpeace alternative logo competition is open for voting. Sustainable Witney didn’t submit an entry in the competition, but should we have?

Has the situation in the gulf got anything to do with us?

Answers in the comment box below…

iSlab? iSlate? No – iPad!

February 5th, 2010

After years of speculation Apple finally unveiled their Tablet computer last week. If you own one of their phones your instant reaction was probably “A Dom Jolly iPhone!” And if you follow Star Trek it’ll be immediately recognisable from the captain’s ready room.

My first taste of Apple was with the iPhone, which is what I’m tapping this into at the moment on the train. I’ve since moved over to a MacBook too (that’s a laptop) and it really is a different experience – no more phaffing around with firewalls and anti-virus software, no more waiting endlessly for it to boot up,and even better, no more hanging around for it to shut down – it just works. Anyway, enough of the adverts, what’s this got to do with sustainability?

Well, they’ve sold an awful lot of iPhones (75 million if I remember correctly) and it looks like they might sell a good deal more iPads – I’m sure to be getting one. So what about all the lithium batteries? What about all the shipping from their manufacturing base in China?

To put things into perspective, the battery for an electric car will weigh at least a hundred times more than a complete iPad. And a short browse on their website shows they recycle their products as well as measuring the emissions for the lifetime of their products.

The Environmental Report for the iPad isn’t up yet, but this is the one for the iPhone.

So what do we think? Ecologically sound? Or corporate greenwash?