WH&T to Read

I receive a lot of useful information in my email inbox as a subscriber to the various green sites & organisations. Unfortunately some ‘green’ retailers are so keen to sell their products that I have to unsubscribe before I’m tempted into buying something I’ve previously done without.

If their product & processes are green, I add those to favourites on my search engine (Ecosia) and unsubscribe.

I am keen to use reliable sources and I consider what benefit the giver of information is getting.

A surprising new resource I’ve discovered is a monthly email from Nottingham CC Waste and Recycling

This email reminded me that June 16th is National Refill Day organised by Refill. Check out their website for reasons to refill. It’s an easy to read site with well worded explanations of why we need to cut back on resources.

With the holiday season approaching and increased drives to see our loved ones, I will be needing to use motorway services. I have to be very insistent to ensure I don’t get a huge handful of napkins, condiments in throw away packets and plastic cutlery. I carry my own knives, forks and cloth napkins, but at busy times the people serving seem to be in a loop that caters for convenient travelling food in single-use packaging with no time to pay attention to different requests.

We try to use Farm Shops or National Trust sites that have a cafe as it is better to stop and have a proper sit down in a cafe using proper plates etc.

Refill have an App that links you to your nearest place to either fill up your water bottle or find places to eat that are doing it with less waste. I can log each time I use a refill station for water or food which will illustrate to me my saving and add to their grand total. I can ensure the places that are making a green statement get my business. Hopefully this will add to the feel good factor of thinking green at all times instead of the sadness and guilt around tradition pit stops. It will also send a message to the companies that aren’t doing what they can to change in order to keep their customers.

The other highlight of June is Father’s Day, Sunday 20 June. Gifts are another area where I find myself stepping outside my green comfort zone. They’re a minefield, so I really enjoyed the Notts CC Waste and Recycling email thought:

Why not opt for an eco-friendly gift for dad, uncle, grandad or the special man in your life?!

Here’s some ideas for sustainable gifts instead of the usual socks or chocolates:

• Subscription to a local Wildlife Trust

• Garden Centre vouchers

• Solar powered torch or radio

• Reusable travel mug

• Adoption of an endangered animal

• Organic indoor herb growing kit

Other football teams are available 🙂

Some good ideas there. The email also gives details of where to find information on make do and mend.

Just before covid hit I bought a pair of lounge trousers for my Dad in his favourite Tottenham strip. They were far too long for him so my creative and talented niece used the bottoms to make his own special face mask.

Smiles all round – albeit hidden by the masks 🙂

Have a look at the WH&T Going Green Facebook Page for lots of ideas to be more green – whatever your skill level. I think you may need to answer a couple of questions to join but it’ll be worth it.

We need to keep asking ourselves questions to find ways to change to a more sustainable lifestyle to avoid a climate disaster.

What a load of rubbish

This weekend Mark & I helped on a river clear up with Lincoln Canoe Club as part of the Clear Water Access Paddle Cleanup Campaign. On Sunday we took part in the WH&T Going Green the Big Community Clear Up. Two great initiatives to encourage more of us to take action to improve our surroundings.

When we litter pick we often find evidence of how the litter has caused problems to wildlife, including sadly, decaying bodies of small birds and mammals. Understanding how the inconsiderate actions of people adversely affects wildlife, motivates me to take care of this planet.

We talk about changing habits and doing what we can, when we can. Keep an eye on WH&T Going Green Face book page for regular going green ideas to see what appeals to you.

To combat the amount of rubbish we found brought to my thoughts two extreme measures: Zero Waste and Refuse.

Zero waste followers try to minimise their impact by ensuring anything they buy does not result in them having any rubbish e.g. using their own containers to buy food or using refill stations, always using their own bags, composting & repurposing.

A quick win is taking your own bags/containers to the local farm shop. They embrace you doing it as it saves them money on bags (even a paper bag becomes rubbish & uses resources to make) and you have nothing to throw away.

I don’t expect to change every habit, but I keep chipping away at it because even putting things in recycling doesn’t have the same big impact on the climate as not using them in the first place.

Which leads us onto Refuse in the way of refusing to be a consumer, refusing to be caught up in the spin of great marketing, refusing to buy things that you really don’t need.

Even if we’re buying products that can be: recycled; are packaged in cardboard; are compostable; are better for the planet than another item you already have that’s not worn out and still does what it was bought for but is made of plastic instead of glass/bamboo etc etc… we are still using up resources. The largest contributor to the worlds carbon emissions (31%), are caused by making things…yes surprisingly even higher than producing electricity (27%)*.

Next time you go to buy – ask why?

Why do I need this? Why can’t I repurpose something I already have? Why can’t I do things a bit differently to avoid needing it? 

If you do need to buy something then consider the source. I like to check if I can buy from a B Corporation company or refer to The Ethical Consumer before I purchase anything.

Sometimes I have to get things through Amazon but on at least three occasions I have ended up not buying what I thought I needed as there was nowhere ethical to get it from.

The less I buy the less chance there is of rubbish being produced along the supply chain. Which brings me neatly back to the local clear ups – rubbish mostly thrown out of cars/delivery vehicles, people on their way to make something to buy or on their way back from buying something.

Whilst we are proactively improving our local environment we should also consider how we can be motivated to change our purchasing habits to improve the worlds environment.

My own journey has led me down a path of not just better recycling, less plastic use etc., but towards campaigning through Greenpeace & Friends of the Earth. Mainly just signing petitions but as I say – do what is right for you. I’m not really a soapbox on Hyde Corner activist.

Please watch this video from Greenpeace.

Yes, a soapbox moment, but please indulge me and take some time to look at the work Greenpeace do. It may be something you wish to support if you can.

*How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates.

It doesn’t have to cost the Earth

We hope you had a lovely Easter break. Everyone who completed the Nature Hunt found it an enjoyable, relaxing and rewarding exercise. In fact, one of our members saw something special.

Although it was aimed at Easter, the form is still accessible and we’re happy to have more results sent in.

A representative of Notts Wildlife Trust is coming for a look around the villages to help us learn where and what to plant and/or care for to ensure we maintain biodiversity in our endeavours to keep WH&T green.

Earlier this week I was delighted to see that the ‘Money Expert’ listed going green under his money saving choices. It’s a common misconception and often a deterrent, that being green is expensive.

Sainsburys in Lincoln is going to be one of the stores nationally to trial giving a 5p voucher for returning plastic bottle(s), (up to 500 bottles). Sainsburys is not the only supermarket to trial this idea, other initiatives are also cropping up. While this doesn’t seem much, it is a way of incentivising recycling and possibly a step towards creating better habits.

Meanwhile, our local glass recycling centre at the Bottle & Glass is still in place. With the refurbishments it appears harder to find, but it’s where it always was at the top of the car park on the right. It’s also nice to know that eating or drinking in our local can be better for the environment than a throw away picnic or drive through. That’ll be our excuse if you happen to see us there (it’s in walking distance too).

The UK is now moving through the steps to get back to ‘normal’ after Covid and much is being done to get the economy moving again. It is easy to want to relax and get back to our good old lives, but it’s important to know that the world is still facing a global crisis – climate change.

There are more occasions that draw attention to the climate crisis and this week there is Earth Day on 22 April.

I was sent an email pointing me in the direction of an article originally posted by The Ethical Consumer in 2019. There is still a lot of pertinent actions available and you will see a theme from the money saving list too.

It is worth having a look – some ideas are not for everyone, but there are enough there that hopefully you will feel that there at least one change you can make towards being green(er).

It is as important as ever to ensure the people in power feel supported in any actions they do to prevent continual abuse of this planet. Possibly they also need to know what we don’t want them to continue on the road that is leading us to disaster. If you’re interested in understanding how lobbying or connecting with the right organisations can help please contact us. Future blogs will also have more information too.

Wigsley Village Noticeboard displaying the daffodils planted last year

Thank you for reading and we’re happy to hear from you about anything mentioned in our blogs especially of any way you thing we can add to WH&T going green.

The next major project to watch out for is the big villages clear up on Sunday 23 May – volunteers needed.

Happy Easter

Easter is traditionally a time to think of renewal or rebirth and in our group that encourages us to think about the connection to recycling and nature. 

The group are finding out a lot about recycling. There are many items that currently go in waste bins that could be recycled if separated from general waste; an example is empty tablet blister packs. Superdrug are recycling these and supporting Marie Curie under “Little Packs, Big Impact” scheme. Clare Welfare in Thorney is the groups representative for dropping these off.

Please let us know if you have an item that you currently put in general rubbish that you think would be better to recycle separately or even know of a charity that would benefit and are happy to collect them.

Meanwhile back to Easter. Other than the religious aspect of Easter we tend to think of Easter in the form of eggs and bunnies…eggs and chicken production will surely be the subject of another blog one day! (And I am definitely not covering any chocolate issues for a while.)

Let’s turn to bunnies, I wonder why there is this connection. In the country wild rabbits are often treated as vermin due to the damage they do to crops, young trees and plants etc. It now seems totally incredible that a disease to curtail the rabbit population (Myxomatosis) and therefore limit the damage to food production was introduced to Europe so effectively. 

It’s illegal to spread Myxomatosis now due to lobbying by animal rights groups. However, there are still controversial programs to cull various animals in order to preserve our food chain. Apparently sometimes there is no choice???

For many environmental issues there are choices we can now make. Sometimes, we just need to change our habits to make better choices for the sake of the environment. 

Changing habits is a complicated, many tiered process, but ultimately if the result of performing the habit isn’t immediate or certain, humans are unlikely to change. Take smoking for example, the government taxes cigarettes to ensure they are costly, lungs that had cancer are paraded round school (well they were at our school), packets even have a government health warnings on them,  and yet many people still smoke. There is no immediate impact and it’s not certain that this habit will kill you and so smokers continue to smoke…until…

Buying a plastic carrier bag because you forgot one of your 100 bags-for-life you have at home is not a huge immediate problem. Photos of whales that have died as a result of plastic in their blow hole is upsetting but not enough to create the immediate need for a change and it’s not certain that all Whales will suffer the same death. There is not a strong enough connection for many to want to change their habits.

I do not confess to know the answers, I just want to try to find them while we do still have a choice.

Meanwhile, here is a clip shared by WWF for Earth Hour – interesting connection to Covid-19 and humans over running the planet…any similarity to the rabbit problem?…

Don’t forget our Nature Hunt over the Easter Weekend. We are hoping to follow a lead from another greening group and ask North Notts Wildlife to visit to give tips on what we can do for our local wildlife. Having details of what we currently see will be a great opener. Thank you.

We are not alone

I’m unashamedly directing you to another blog in advance of Earth Hour:

Saturday, March 27 at 8:30 pm

I confess we haven’t planned our hour yet but I can guarantee Mark won’t be in favour of the board games option.

Socially distanced Scrabble in the dark anyone??

As usual we would love to hear about how you’ve chosen to participate or let us know after how it went.

Dogs amongst the daffodils in Mill Lane

Keep an eye open for our Easter Hunt – think bird watch but its all about the abundance of nature we can see around Wigsley, Thorney and Harby.

The event is now listed on our website. To download the pdf checklist go to  https://whtgoinggreen.org/projects/ 

To be honest dogs aren’t on the list but daffodils are 🙂

WH&T is going on?

Thanks to all who have joined us. Whilst we want to pass on as much information that we can about going green we appreciate that you may not have time to read all we pass on to you.

The two current issues that may be of interest to you are:

New WRAP Food Waste Acton Week Monday 1 to Sunday 7 March 2021

Greenpeace release supermarket plastic league table

Please click on the link to read more about them.

Personally I have a just slimmed down my subscription emails as my brain can not take in all the information. I still don’t actually read many fully but just by seeing the titles and introduction gives me a heads up on the most pressing.

I think part of why humans are in danger of destroying the planet is because we are so successful. One of the elements of that success is marketing. Sadly the marketing habit now creates headlines about products to buy to help the environment. In fact it is the opposite – the greatest thing we can do it nothing (or rather buy nothing).

Buying from ‘green’ companies goes a long way to create a more sustainable world but my inbox is too full of them suggesting the things I need, hence the slim down.

Without some of the articles or blogs these companies produce I may not have become so focussed on changing. This group is hoping to save you some of that as part of your own green journey.

Please help us by commenting on what you’ve liked, what was not for you, if you want us to give more or less information.

If you have no time for reading every blog, don’t worry a lot of the topics will come up again and you’ll find your own way of being green. Please do keep following and passing the word on.

The next thing to keep an eye open for is Earth Hour Saturday 27 March https://www.earthhour.org/take-part

Myth Busters: Fairtrade Products

By Katerina Pickup

Welcome to our new Myth Busters blog series! There are often misconceptions around sustainability issues and I find it eye-opening to keep learning new facts which help me understand our environment and what we can do to live in a more sustainable way.

The Fairtrade Festival is coming to an end today and I have been reading a lot about Fairtrade products. I wanted to share a few facts that you might find interesting! Enjoy the read and please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about what your experience or opinion on using Fairtrade products is!

Myth 1: Only a small fraction of the price you pay for a Fairtrade product goes back to the farmer

This myth comes from the assumption that Fairtrade traders are paid a percentage of the price that a consumer pays for their Fairtrade product. However, this is not correct. The retail price of a Fairtrade product is set by the shop owner and is not related to how much goes to the farmer.

The way Fairtrade works is that the company trader who makes the product for the the supply chain receives the Fairtrade price which is a set price called Fairtrade Minimum Price. This is to ensure that traders will receive the same amount every time and are protected from fluctuations in the market. That way they are able to plan better and cover their costs even if the market price of their commodity falls. And that’s a fair arrangement, don’t you think?

Myth 2: Fairtrade products are more expensive

This is perhaps the biggest myth of all when it comes to Fairtrade. Consumers often assume that businesses respecting human rights, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world, will end up offering more expensive products. This is not always the case.

To explain, let’s start from the basics. The price of a product is normally made up of several parts. If you look at a bag of coffee, for example. Assuming that you bought your (not Fairtrade) coffee for £3, how much do you think ends up in the coffee producers’ pocket? Around 20p. So where does the remaining £2.80 go? It’s the production company, the retailer, several intermediaries in the supply chain and also the transport company that gets the product to the retailer.

The difference is that Fairtade organisations work directly with producers, cutting out intermediaries. This means that Fairtrade products can be competitively priced. And the trader is always guaranteed the Minimum Price.

Myth 3: Fairtrade results in poorer quality products for the consumer

Fairtrade products are often hand-made and not mass-produced like high street goods. This is why some people make an assumption that Fairtrade product quality can fluctuate.

In reality, Fairtrade organisations continuously work to improve quality and consistency. Through direct and long-term relationships, producers and Fairtrade organisations communicate market demand and monitor quality. Fair traders’ products have received accolades for their quality over the years including awards at the international Cup of Excellence and Roaster of the Year competitions, SustainAbility in Design, the New York Home Textile Show, and other venues.

Myth 4: Fairtrade agreements lock farmers into a fixed price

Let’s go back to the Fairtrade Minimum Price which is where this myth often originates. The Fairtrade Minimum Price is a safety net or a floor price, not a fixed price that a farmer will receive for their product. It’s carefully calculated to cover the costs of production and only comes into play in a worst case scenario. It is a price the farmer is guaranteed to receive.

If the market price of their product is above the Minimum Price, then the buyer must pay the higher price. The farmer may also negotiate higher prices at any time on the basis of quality and other factors.

Any amount the farmer receives above the Minimum Price is known as the Frairtrade premium. This extra money can be spent on improving training, improving farming techniques and building schools and medical clinics to support the local community. Fairtrade doesn’t dictate what it’s spent on but the Premium spend is audited in the interests of transparency.

Myth 5. Fairtrade means coffee and chocolate

Coffee was indeed the first agricultural product to be certified Fairtrade in 1988. However, Fairtrade has gone a long way in recent years to certify new product categories. These include bananas, cocoa, coffee, dried fruit, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, honey, juices, nuts/oil seeds/oil, quinoa, rice, spices, sugar, tea, wine and non-food products such as clothing, beauty products, cotton, cut flowers, ornamental plants, sport balls, gold, platinum and silver!

Fairtrade in the UK:

The Fairtrade Foundation is a charity based in the United Kingdom that works to empower disadvantaged producers in developing countries by tackling injustice in conventional trade. The Foundation promotes and licenses the Fairtrade Mark, a guarantee that Fairtrade products retailed in the United Kingdom have been produced in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards.

The Foundation is the British member of FLO International which unites 25 national Fairtrade organisations (FLO-CERT) and three producer networks in Europe, Asia, North, Central and South America, and Australia.

Find out more at https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/.

Thank you for staying with me all the way here! I hope you have enjoyed the read and have learnt one or two interesting things about Fairtrade and how it fits in with sustainable living.

The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for

The writer Ernest Hemingway is known for his economical and understated style. Taken out of context he echoes what we are feeling in wanting to be green. However, in fact, his emphasis is about fighting

I researched fighting in the dictionary and the majority of the definitions sounded aggressive or us versus them; A battle of opposing sides.

The crux of the matter is that we – every single person, company, government and country need to be united in order to keep ‘this earth as a fine place.’

Maybe the fight is within ourselves, as we have many habits and traditions that need to be changed to make the changes the world needs.

An example is Amazon. This company provides an amazing service giving us the things we think we need the very next day. No questions about if we really need it, there’s no need to plan ahead for things we might need and there is no understanding of the environmental impact it may have.

At a company level Amazon falls short on many ethical policies but specifically  it has been criticised for “helping fossil fuel companies accelerate and expand oil and gas extraction” in 2019, after it was revealed to have been offering special technology services to fossil fuel companies including Shell and BP.

(Source Ethical Consumer https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/).

The conflict is between living, growing and surviving day-to-day and finding other ways or companies who can provide what we need.

No matter how we fight against the huge conglomerates, they will keep doing what they do while they are making a profit.

We need to find a way for them to listen, to believe that their actions will affect their base line profits. My limited pocket probably won’t make a difference, but hopefully the knowledge that people are looking for other ways because of the global impact they make may, help them change their ways.

Meanwhile, in our house we will continue to ‘fight’ for this fine Earth by shopping with the Ethical companies we have found.

We have subscribed to the Ethical Consumer which provides ethical information. It is the first point of call if we are going to buy anything. They use the subscription monies to investigate and ask the questions that can be hard to find answers to and ask questions we didn’t know we needed to consider.

Introducing WH&T Going Green

By Karen Laker

Planning for the future is difficult in this current climate, we just don’t know when the world (as we knew it) will open up again.

Our planet is in crisis. Many environmentalists were calling for changes to how we live before COVID. Climate change is a major problem.

The pandemic has put a halt to many eco friendly projects, but there has also been a huge reduction on the amount fossil fuel burned as a result of working at home. There are reports of the immediate impact including better air and water quality.

Recent government changes also give hope of renewed focus on Climate Change e.g COP26.

We all have a part to play in looking after the environment. It may feel that one person/community/country cannot make the huge difference needed – we can’t believe that. We’re looking for ways to change what we do on a day-to-day basis. We are choosing to group together (albeit a small group initially) to do what we can in our villages.

It may be doing something as simple as collecting litter, showing respect to our countryside and hopefully creating more of an appreciation for nature. This appreciation leads to understanding the diversity in nature and wildlife and how important it is to protect it.

Yes we are dreaming big and are not afraid to start small. We just want to start.

Please get in touch whether it’s to share ideas of community projects we could do, asking how you could be more green, what it means to be carbon neutral or contemplating zero waste, or even if you’re unsure about what you can put in your green bin.

No question or thought too big or too small we are interested in all our community and hope you’ll join us.

Thank you for reading.

The Eco Worrier

By Karen Laker

The Eco Worrier – Yes  you read it correctly – I couldn’t quite class myself a warrior – my approach is more gentle.

I believe change one thing (at a time) and tell one person (who can listen), rather than shouting from the rooftops with words that may fall on deaf ears. We started being more green before Covid. With the spare time we had in lockdown, I was able to gain more knowledge which helped us up our game…we still have a way to go. I believe it’s important for our children’s future that we do what we can today.

As a society we have developed many convenience and money saving habits. Habits aren’t easy to change overnight, so by expecting to be perfectly green is a road to failure. It’s easy to say that one person can’t make a difference, and then give up.

We believe one household can make a difference to our own path through this world albeit it one or two habits at a time. We know goal setting needs to be realistic and you need to be kind to yourself.

Where to start?

Despite the wise words above my first thought was to look at having a day where we used no single-use plastic the house.

Here I came across one of the first golden rules:


There was no point using my newly researched shampoo soap and soap bars until I had used up the shampoo, conditioner and body wash I already had.

I had to be patient before I needed to find if soap bars and shampoo soap would work for me because of other habit changes.

  • Use half as much, it’ll last twice as long.
  • The realisation that I didn’t work in a dirty environment so daily showers weren’t needed.

I use https://beautykitchen.co.uk for other products – they take back their containers and reuse them which is better than recycling.

Someone else in the village makes their own washable face wipes (you can also buy them).

Once you make the decision to change, it is amazing how inventive you can be.

Back to no single-use plastic day – did it happen at The Old Potting Shed? – NO partly because I was diverted by ZEROWASTE and partly because some alternatives to single-use plastic can cause other environmental issues.

A common one to consider is that we are shown the awful effects of plastic water bottles and its fashionable to buy aluminium flasks e.g. Chilly Bottle’s.  Aluminium manufacturing has its own problems and a finite resource.

Obviously, if you already have one don’t panic and throw it away in disgust. Just maybe don’t buy another prettier one or be drawn into getting one as a Christmas present for someone who has no need for them. Reusable glass bottles are a much better option.

Finding a good source of environmental facts and learning to see advertising for what it is can go a long way. It can help you make good habit changes towards a more green existence.

Meanwhile questions such as:

Do I need it? Do I really need it and do I really, really need it are useful.

I hope you enjoyed reading my first weekly blog as I revisit some of my choices (good and bad – yes you’ve guessed it, we have flasks!!) towards being more planet friendly and update you with any other news.

Please feel free to add helpful comments and/or ask me questions bearing in mind this is a huge subject and I’ll be dealing with just a couple of topics each time.