The carrier bag law: what happens next?

Plastic bagsIt won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that a levy on plastic carrier bags has finally been introduced in England (way behind Scotland and Wales), requiring customers to pay 5p if they don’t bring their own bag (except in mildly obscure circumstances – flowers or prescription medicines, anyone?).

As a sandal-wearing, Guardian-reading leftie I’m very pleased – long overdue and it won’t take long for it to totally change our daily mindset.

However, I’ve had a couple of additional thoughts about what happens next…

Will supermarkets replace plastic bags with anything?

Anyone who has watched US TV will know that across the Atlantic, paper grocery bags have long been used for shopping. Obviously, many Americans drive to out-of-town stores and dump their bags in the boot of the car, but I wonder if any British supermarkets might consider this.
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Has Freecycle UK run out of puff?

freecycleIt sounds as if the wonderful freecycle could be reaching the end of the road in the UK.

For the last umpteen years, it has been a model of green thinking, keeping things out of landfill, allowing people to offload surplus stuff while finding a new home at the same time.

Equally, it’s been a boon for people looking to start a new home, find something obscure or simply those who want to cut costs.

But it seems as if the American owners of Freecycle haven’t been particularly receptive to the way things are done in the UK.

This morning, I received a message from my local group moderators announcing their departure from the local group and the set-up of a new green recycling group that no longer trades under the auspices of Freecycle.

These people are volunteers, running the group without pay 24 hours a day, all out of the goodness of their own hearts, so it’s not an issue of pay.

Part of their message read as follows:
Leaders of Freecycle in the UK have spent more than two years talking with the main Freecycle Network (in the USA) trying to get the freedom to run things in a way more suited to how Freecycle works in the UK. So we can make it better for all of us.

Nothing has been changed.

Earlier this summer four leading members of the National UK Freecycle team resigned including the Director, in protest at the lack of change . Moderators around the country then formed an Independent Association of Moderators and AGAIN tried talking with The Freecycle Network. Hoping to negotiate and find a positive way to continue under the banner of Freecycle.

This has not been possible. We acknowledge that what Freecycle does in the community is great. We just don’t agree that we should be dictated to from across the Atlantic and adopt inappropriate policies. We think the members and moderators make Freecycle great.

There has now been multiple summary expulsions of moderators who have asked for change from Freecycle. All UK moderators have lost their freedom of speech within the organisation. So here in Xxxxxxx we have decided to go our own way along with the majority of other Freecycle UK groups.

From my experiences at AOL, I know that, while moderation is vital and guidelines and policies need to be in place, it is foolhardy to dictate to people who give up their own freetime for the good of others.

Their philanthropism will only stretch so far and eventually, as it seems with Freecycle UK, will vote with their feet.

This will be a shame, but hopefully these similar groups will continue to be as successful.

I’ve enjoyed using the services of Freecycle in the past and hope to make use of any new group who operates under the same principles. Good luck!

Definitely not down in the dump

Freecycled chairI did something for the first time yesterday – I freecycled something!

For those of who you haven’t heard of it, it’s a way of getting rid of unwanted items that aren’t worth selling, but are too good to go to the dump!

Our local Habitat is closing down and by chance we went on Saturday to discover that the 4 dining chairs we’ve been toying with buying for almost a year were in the clearance sale at 50% off – bargain!

So what to do with the old, slightly creaky and wobbly set of 4 that aren’t actually that old? C was all for loading them into the car and taking them to the dump, but I’ve always wanted to use freecycle and now seemed an opportunity too good to miss.

So I posted my chairs on my local group and within 10 minutes of the post being approved, I had 4 takers.

I democratically chose the first person who replied (although that’s not necessary, according to freecycle guidelines) and at 9.30 last night, I proudly said goodbye to our old dining chairs and watched them driven away in the back of a van.

I feel good knowing they’ve gone to a good home and also feel environmentally satisfied that they were saved from landfill. Now, what else can I give away?