Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Let us take a heat-picture of your house

November 13th, 2013
Thermal picture of a house

Thermal image of a home in East Oxford, by kind permission of the homeowner.

Most of us know our house could be better insulated. Would you be more likely to get round to it if you could actually see the heat escaping? That’s what thermal imaging does – it takes a temperature-sensitive picture of the outside of your house, so you can see where your home is losing heat.

For example, this picture shows that the brickwork around the window on the left is letting more heat out than the window on the right. It also shows that the loft insulation must be good because there is no heat escaping from the roof. Would you like to see what your own home looks like in a thermal image?

Sustainable Witney volunteers have use of a thermal imaging camera this month (borrowed from West Oxfordshire District Council) and we’re carrying out free surveys throughout November. You won’t need to puzzle over the results yourself – we’ll have a public meeting on 11 March 2014 where you can get an explanation of your images (just like the one we held last year). It doesn’t matter whether or not you own your home – the important thing is that you live there and want to keep warm with lower fuel bills!

You can sign up by emailing us with your full address. As ever, we’d like to remind people that we’re just a small group of volunteers and that the weather conditions have to be right for the imaging to work. This puts a limit on how many houses we can do. But the sooner you get added to the list, the sooner we can get round to you. And if you know someone who you think might be struggling with fuel bills, please tell them about this free service and suggest they get in touch with us on thermalimaging@sustainablewitney.org.uk.

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 http://www.whichgreen.org/. 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.)

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!

Farmers’ Market

January 28th, 2013

Witney Farmer’s Market has relocated to the Market Square where you’ll find it on the last Friday of every month.

Sustainable Witney were kindly offered a pitch to promote sustainable living and we jumped at the chance. We promoted the events we are running this year which include swap shops, upcycling workshops, another Refashion Show and helped to give away the free farmers’ market re-useable bags. 30+ people stopped by to talk to us.

It has a good variety of stalls selling bread, vegetables, preserves, cakes, meat and beer, which ticked off most of the things on my shopping list last Friday.

We will be there again next month on Friday 22nd February so why not drop by for a chat?

The easiest way to support Sustainable Witney

November 12th, 2012

It’s amazing that so many people come along to our organising meetings; even those who can’t commit much time, still help out with specific events and make them such a success.

Nonetheless, Sustainable Witney appreciates that there are lots of you out there who really like what we do, but simply don’t have the free time to give us a hand. If that describes you, then please know that your vocal support for Sustainable Witney is enough!

… But if you do find yourself thinking “I wish I could help more” but not finding the time, then you can quote this code – SUSW1 – if and when you switch your energy supplier to Ecotricity.

» Read more: The easiest way to support Sustainable Witney

The train to Spain is better than the plane

August 19th, 2012

How do you lead a sustainable life and still travel to other countries? Aviation is often the elephant in the room: people who work very hard to reduce their carbon footprint are tempted to turn a blind eye when it comes to foreign travel, partly because it seems as if there’s no alternative. There often is – it’s just not as well-known as the flying option.

» Read more: The train to Spain is better than the plane

Bridewell Organic Gardens open days in August and September

August 9th, 2012

Bridewell Organic Gardens (© quaintliving.com)


Bridewell Organic Gardens are on the far side of Wilcote from Witney. You might have seen their signs and garden walls, en route between Wilcote and North Leigh on the long, sweeping single-track road.

But have you ever thought about what they do? They’re a therapeutic gardening project: they offer worthwhile work opportunities, in a therapeutic setting, for those who need a combination of therapy, exercise and to make a valuable contribution while doing so; the majority of their referrals are from primary care trusts.

Because of their therapeutic status, the gardens aren’t often accessible to the public. But! you can go on one of their open days, which will be on Sundays 19 August and 9 September. That’s a week this Sunday; and the second Sunday in September.

If you’re free on one of those days, why not pop along to Bridewell gardens, and maybe bring back some locally produced organic wine, or even organic honey, in your panniers…?

County council begins work on CLR

April 16th, 2012

We’re still waiting for the outcome of the Cogges Link Road inquiry, but it appears that Oxfordshire County Council has jumped the gun and begun work without waiting to hear what the Department of Transport says. Members of Witney First report that digging has begun at the Farm Mill Lane site (adjacent to the Sainsburys roundabout).

» Read more: County council begins work on CLR

Home is where the inquiry is – eventually

September 22nd, 2011

The Cogges Link Road public inquiry opened on Tuesday… and was adjourned just five minutes later. The chosen venue, the Lindsay Room at Eynsham Hall, proved to be much too small to accommodate all the members of the public who turned up.

The Sustainable Witney blog outlined other problems with the venue weeks ago: we pointed out that it is much harder to get to by public transport than by car, which could easily discourage non-drivers (especially those with disabilities) from attending.

Despite this barrier to attendance, over 150 people turned up on the first day; great news for democracy but not such good news for the smooth running of the inquiry in a room whose seated capacity is just 55. But this wasn’t the only problem.

» Read more: Home is where the inquiry is – eventually

A Waiting Game

November 28th, 2010

The organisation 20s Plenty For Us says…

“Already nearly 5m residents live in towns which are adopting or have adopted this policy. Most importantly, through democratic debate those communities have decided that “20’s Plenty Where People Live”. And it is those same communities who have then changed their behaviour to drive slower in residential streets and where people walk and cycle.”

So how long do we have to wait before people are put first on the streets of Witney?

» Read more: A Waiting Game

TGiF – Bread & Butter

October 11th, 2010

Bicycle Bread Company from Delicious Cinema on Vimeo.

spilleautomater online

Fairtrade Fashion Show, Witney College

October 11th, 2010

Witney’s first ever Fairtrade Fashion Show at Witney College Campus, Holloway Road. Thursday 7th March, starting at 7pm.

Students from Abingdon & Witney College are designing, making and modelling their own creations from Fairtrade fabrics, supported by the Witney Area Fair Trade Action Group.

Tickets are £5 (£3 for students) and will be available from mid-February from the College reception, Oxfam in Market Square in Witney, or online.  All proceeds will go to support Fairtrade projects.

ReFashion in Oxford tomorrow

October 11th, 2010

Something old, something new, something to swap, something for you… Tomorrow is Oxford ReFashion, the event that breathes new life into our old clothes. If you went to last year’s event in Oxford, or came to Witney ReFashion in November, you’ll know what to expect. (The video of our November event gives a flavour too.)

ReFashion is a chance to:

  • Swap your unwanted clothes at the “swishing” event
  • Learn about basic repairs and adjustments
  • Get creative with upcycling
  • Get rid of that tatty old bra at the charity bra bank
  • Take some inspiration from the fashion shows
  • And if your clothes are really beyond hope… send them for recycling into rags!

Oxford ReFashion is at Oxford Town Hall tomorrow (Tuesday 19th Feb 2013). It runs from 1pm-7pm.

The clothes being swapped/upcycled/etc can be for men, women, children and babies. Entry is free and you don’t have to bring anything – you can just wander around. The goal is to reduce the amount of clothing that goes to landfill in Oxfordshire each year, while having some fashion-based fun.

Although it’s an Oxford event, you might spot a few Witney faces there. I’m treating it as an opportunity to spring-clean my wardrobe! spilleautomater online