Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Blogger let loose for Recycle Week

So what's all it about then, this pledge of mine for Recycle Week?

To help others in my community waste less.

It sounds simple doesn't it, especially when you say it quickly. But what does it really mean?

Well I made some tentative steps yesterday by tagging some members of my British Mummy Bloggers community to help raise awareness of Recycle Week. And thanks to the lovely bloggers involved, they in turn have already tagged 15 other people, so hopefully that'll be a few more promises in Recycle Now's pledgebank by the end of today and hopefully even more will make their pledge tomorrow.

But do I stop there and just let the pledges automatically stack up?

Oh no...that would be far too easy for a someone such as me who likes nothing better than a challenge.

Choosing the pledge

I admit that when I was I invited on board as a featured blogger for Recycle Week, I pondered the list of pledges available and truly felt stuck! It was like dragging myself out of a quagmire, going this way and that deciding what I should pledge.

I already do all those things on the list of suggestions, even taking my bottles home with me if a bar or cafe doesn't recycle them. Better to take them to the recycling bank than let them get buried in landfill, I'd say.

Since last year's Zero Waste Week, we still have waste-free days and we've reduced, reused and recycled so much our rubbish amounts to just one carrier bag's worth, which is the equivalent of putting out a wheelie bin about once a year.

So hopefully you can see my predicament.

So for me it was a question of "How else could I support this year's theme of let's waste less?"

And that's when I had my light bulb moment, when I thought that as well as making a simple pledge on the Recycle Now website I could also put all my networks to good use, encouraging and enabling lots of other people to work together to also waste less during Recycle Week.

Community thinking

It wasn't a flash of inspiration, you'll understand. At my age it was more like the gradual glow given off by an energy-saving light bulb, steady but optimistic.

But I'm not an evangelist or an eco-warrior, so this challenge would never be about approaching people and quizzing them about their recycling habits and convincing them to do more in a direct way.

However I write for a local magazine, I'm a governor of a local primary school and I have a good relationship with our council and I wondered how this could benefit the community. Having been inspired by the efforts that have been made by residents in St Arvans, Monmouthshire, and more recently in Wenhaston, Suffolk, I thought it would be great to encourage all the people I know to work together to reach out to my local community in Moreton Hall, which is in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

But with so many messages about recycling, the first step was to find a simple pledge that most people could make.

What could we save from landfill?

We are very lucky in Moreton Hall as householders can recycle almost anything locally. Our local council, St Edmundsbury, is able to collect mixed plastics, as well as paper, cans, cardboard, foil and batteries. We also have a household composting collection and a glass bring bank is located in the centre of estate and at our local local supermarket, where we can also recycle clothing, shoes, books and carrier bags.

In fact, residents are great at the old recycling lark. Our dry recycling collection alone amounts to roughly 31% of our residential waste and that's before you consider compostable materials.

But as you know, there's always room for improvement and having spoken with fellow residents over the last 12 months, I've noticed the one thing that catches out many folk is the good old Drinks Carton. In fact there was a time when I didn't know what to do with them either.

We can actually recycle cartons in Bury St Edmunds. In fact if you look at the Tetra Pak bank locator and navigate to St Edmundsbury in Suffolk, you'll see our nearest banks are at Waitrose and the Rougham Hill HWRC, the latter of which is about a mile away from the centre of Moreton Hall.

However, while many people are aware of these facilities a lot of others aren't, and those who are aware don't always have access because of lack of time or even transport. Others assume they can be recycled in the blue bin collection, while many other people will put them in the landfill bin.

With so many misunderstandings over the fate of the carton, it seemed like a good candidate for profiling the Recycle Week message locally.

Getting the preparations underway!

So while many folk might be pondering their Recycle Week plans now, mine started about a month ago.

The first step was to speak to the local councils to see if arrangements could be put in place to support the carton idea. And the good news was that they were able to provide a temporary bin for Recycle Week at my sons' school AND at the community centre.

This was indeed fantastic news, because if next week is successful, it will save me having to cart several car loads to the local recycling centre. In fact the bins will be delivered on Monday, courtesy of St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The next challenge has been to get community groups involved. This was a toughie because it meant approaching people with whom I've never spoken before. If it went the wrong way, there was risk I would get the reputation as the mad woman of Moreton Hall. I've already got a cat with one eye and I could see it had potential to become a legend of its own making.

However, I had nothing to fear because everyone was enthusiastic to get involved in the local Recycle Week project and have been busy putting their own plans into place to collect cartons to fill the temporary recycling bins.

Finally, there was the issue of communications. However, being a regular contributor to a local magazine called the MHD, I was able to work with the editor to announce the project to residents of Moreton Hall in a double-page splash. Here's the front cover promoting the news.

The fact that it goes to 2500 households means that hopefully it's a positive start. Here's the article in its full glory (click on it to enlarge it).

So who's getting involved next week?

Well it certainly seems a case of all hands on deck.

As well as residents being invited to drop off their cartons at the communal bin, the two primary schools, Abbots Green and Sebert Wood are organising carton collections, which will help support their eco-school plans. The Moreton Hall Prep School is also organising a collection as are the local church and the youth club. One of the Beaver clubs outside the local catchment is getting involved too and the community centre and post office will also be promoting the event by displaying posters and leaflets. It's great that everyone is enthusiastic about this project and I'd like to thank them for being a part it.

But it doesn't stop there, although the major preparations are now in place for next week, I've got my eye on a few candidates who I've not yet approached, but plan to very soon. And I've got some other ideas up my sleeve too. Of course there is also time for anyone else in the community to get involved and I would be delighted to welcome them on board.

In the meantime, I'm off to a WRAP waste industry conference tomorrow to find out the latest news in mixed plastics recycling. Shhh, don't tell them that a blogger has been let loose amongst the professionals will you? They might wonder what I'm up to.

So I guess that leaves me with just one last question to ask...yay you know I'm cheeky don't you!



mrs green said...

Wowee, Mrs A - you're doing some amazing things over there. It must have been so much work to organise and co-ordinate. My garage is looking a positively simple pledge when I think of all the time and energy you have put behind yours.

Really well done; you are doing amazing work.

Shopaholic said...

My unwanted clothes will be winging their way to charity during recycling week!

Margaret's Ramblings said...

Well done you for your commitment. I wish I could spare more time to spread the message but at the moment all I can do is make sure my own little patch is recycling properly.

Have fun


cartside said...

Very impressive. I've only come across your blog and I'm intrigued at how you managed not to produce waste for a week. Will read more to see how this can be possible. I'm made my pledge too, and will tag some other bloggers.

Half Mum Half Biscuit said...

Deep respect! You are so inspiring! I have plugged you and recycle week on my blog and am about to take tentative steps myself (in the direction of actually making the world a better place) which hopefully as I find out more will become bigger strides...

John costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

Best of luck with the comunity effort. It does take nerve to promote better recycling with locals, not necessarily in tune with Zero Waste.

I will certainly follow your progress and look for ideas to try elsewhere. You might also find a new approach, eg to promote even better recycling. 60%+ has been achieved, can it be even higher?

jonathan said...

Hello, great thing you and the community are trying to do. I agree with you. We should start making actions in order to influence the others. Good luck!

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin