Sunday, 13 January 2013

We've caught the swapping bug! Sustainable Bury launches its first Swap Shop

L-R: Pippa, Fiona & me: Some of the founding members of Sustainable Bury, at our very first Swap Shop. Photo credit: Sandy Jackson. 

I've been to several 'Swap shops' or 'Give & Take' days organised by Transition Town groups around Suffolk. the last one being being held by Sustainable Bungay in September.  I must confess that when I left that event, I was both quite jealous that Bury St Edmunds didn't have such an occasion to get the good town-folk out swapping, but also very much inspired to do something about it.

After all, in Bungay, what I witnessed was not just a great way of motivating people to declutter their unwanted items and let someone else take them home for free, but there was also a fantastic vibrant community spirit.  

Now left to my own devices, that inspiration might have remained a pipe dream due to competing priorities.  However, my visit to Bungay coincided with the gathering of like-minded folk in Bury St Edmunds - mainly in a pub - to organise a new Transition Town community group called Sustainable Bury.  As we were planning our events, I mentioned how much I'd love to bring the Swap Shop idea under our umbrella.  All it took was someone to suggest enthusiastically that we should run one just after Christmas and Bob's your uncle, the first community event for Sustainable Bury was born!  Such is the power of team-work.

The posters went up, leaflets were distributed and we received some great mentions on Radio Suffolk and excellent coverage in the Bury Free Press, but it was still quite nerve-wracking yesterday morning as we got ready for our 'big event'.  Would the good folk of Bury St Edmunds turn up?

Setting out the tables at the St John's Centre.

Thankfully, yes they did!

Including Kim, one of Bury St Edmunds' entertainment organisers.  I never did find out whether she took those funky specs home, but I really hope she did!

The idea was that people could drop off items that they no longer wanted and take anything away that they wished, for free!  If they didn't have anything to bring, they could simply leave a donation at their discretion.  Any items that were left, we simply pledged to donate them to the charity shops, dotted along St John's Street.

As with any Reuse event, the swap shop featured a real eclectic range of stuff.  I loved these little Saki cups.

And this unopened Body Shop gift pack was certainly a great find for its new owner.

As was this Past Times tea cosy. proclaiming "Where there's tea there's hope"!  That might become my new mantra.

I'm really pleased that for our first event we had around 30 people, perhaps even more.  To be honest, we were so busy listening to all the great feedback from the visitors who dropped by that it was really tricky to keep count.   In fact, the feedback that we received was so encouraging, we have decided to bring forward plans for our next Swap Shop, which we will now run in April.

I'm now looking forward to the Swap Shop becoming a regular event that supports the Reuse infrastructure in Suffolk, in a way that is truly fun and brings the community together.   For those who struggle to get stuff into town, it would also be wonderful for satellite events to be hosted by community centres and schools in the the surrounding estates and villages and I would certainly be happy to help get those rolling.

However, Sustainable Bury is not just about encouraging reuse and reducing waste, there are other great plans on the cards too.  There is a real wealth of ideas coming through, so if you have time, do check out this great piece by the Bury Free Press from yesterday's event, which also features a video of our members, sharing some thoughts about what they'd love the group to achieve.


Sustainable Bury really is in its infancy, so while we wait for its website/blog to be created, more information can be found at the Facebook page or by following @SustainableBury on Twitter.   If you are local to Bury St Edmunds and would like to get involved,  please do get in touch via Facebook/Twitter, email me or alternatively leave a note below and I will be pleased to pass on your details to the team.  The next planning meeting is this Tuesday, 15 January, 7.30pm at the Fox Inn, in Eastgate Street.  All are welcome.

More information about Transition Towns can be found at


My Little Lasik said...

Awesome cosy! Do you, by any chance, know of a place where I could order one online?

Easy Diet Plans said...

Nice post for all.

Eco Thrifty Living said...

What a great idea - looks like it was a lot of fun and a great alternative to shopping!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Thanks everyone. The event was great and even people who weren't able to come have since been asking when we're holding the next one.

@MylittleLasik - I don't know if you can still get hold of that cosy, but it's from Past Times, which has a website at:

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin