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An Ode to Slugs and Snails

Today I found my first snail of the season. Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tracey and I (Tamara) were at Southsea Green, the community garden at Canoe Lake, where Pompey Green Party have a veg plot.  I was attempting to rescue some very sad-looking broad beans and enjoying pottering around in the sunshine contemplating my navel, while Tracey, infected with the spring season, cleared up winter detritus.

And there it was, slithering all over the broad beans, waving its tentacles in slimy delight…mocking me, daring me. I refuse to be intimidated by this threat that, quite literally, lacks a backbone. I did the only thing possible in the face of such defiance. I eyeballed it, plucked it from its unauthorised brunch and lobbed it over the fence. As it sailed majestically through the air, I could hear it calling, ‘I’ll be baaaaccckkkkkkk.’

https://www.instagram.com/p/Be01MfVDV8W/?taken-by=pompeygreens

 

Disclaimer: I am not a gardener or a scientist.  At least once a year, I desperately turn to the internet hive-mind for earth-friendly, chemical-free, organic solutions that ideally don’t involve snail murder. These are a handful of recommendations that stick in my mind which may or may not be urban (gardener) myths  – haha, did you see what I did there?!

So, here are my lazy-girl suggestions for eco-friendly slug and snail repellants that may or may not be effective!

Crushed Egg Shells:

I scatter crushed eggshells on the veg plot and in my garden and that my friends, is basically it! The idea is that it acts as a barrier deterrent and as a bonus, the eggshells add nutrients to the soil. Bonus – as I eat a lot of eggs, it is free!

Coffee Grounds:

When I am at Palmerston Road, I always collect a (free) bag of used coffee grounds from Coffee #1. My hubby also loves ‘proper’ coffee on weekends, so there is never a shortage in my household. As with the eggshells, I scatter the used coffee grounds around like environmental confetti and let it do its thing. It also doubles as a fertilizer and can also go in the compost.

Nematodes:

I invested in a 24 week-course of Nemaslug (nematodes) last summer. The application process is more involved than chucking coffee grounds onto the soil but apparently, it is more likely to actually work.  Nematodes are microscopic worms and a slugs worst nightmare and an organic gardeners dream. Lazy girl bonus – they post the nematodes to you. Lazy girl fail – I still have 2 of the four packs in my fridge from last summer.

Beer Traps:

I have tried laying out beer traps a few times and am just too grossed out by having to dispose of stinky slug corpses. Unrelated to the beer traps, last year I plucked a load of slugs and put them in a plastic bag to dispose of.  I promptly forgot about it and when I found it….it turns my stomach just thinking about it. If I were more on the ball, I think I could dispose of the dead slugs in my compost bin, but I don’t even like touching them. Sigh, I guess I just need to (wo)man up!

Copper Tape:

When I first started growing veg for my local slug and snails enjoyment, I tried copper tape around pots as a barrier deterrent. I was a complete beginner and I didn’t have much luck with gardening in general (some things never change!), so my lack of success was probably more to do with this than a failure of the copper tape.

Wool Pellets:

Around the same time as my foray into copper tape, I also tried using wool pellets. The fibres act as a deterrent as they are supposed to be uncomfortable for the snails and slugs to crawl over. The wool also doubles up as mulch and a weed suppressant. I dunno if it was effective, but I didn’t like the smell. Recently, I had some food delivered and it was insulated with wool liners. As my cat turned her nose up at her pure wool mat,  I’m gonna try using it in the garden instead.

Moonlit Hunt:

Forget going on a bear hunt, instead, why not grab your torch and head outside to hunt slugs and snails by moonlight. Ahhhh, how romantic!

 

Sling-Shot Sid:

And finally, just to be safe, I suggest you practice your sling-shot aim for the new Olympic sport ‘Snail Shot-Put’! The homing instinct is strong with this one, they need to travel at least 20 metres from their home patch, otherwise, they will be ‘baaaaccckkkkkkk.’

 

So dear reader, have you waged and won the war against these slimy soldiers? Let us know your hints and tips in the Comments section.

Please, I beg you….my sanity and summer depends on it!

 

 

Anna Against the Machine

In honour of International Women’s Day, we are thrilled to be celebrating the achievements of local community campaigner and Portsmouth Green Party activist, Anna Koor.

In this extended interview,  we discuss Anna’s involvement in the ongoing campaign to get the road around Camber Dock in Old Portsmouth registered as a Public Right of Way.  This is a longer blog post than usual, but I (Tamara) hope you will agree that it is worth the extra scrolling!

So to bring you up to speed, last week saw a significant win for the campaign; Portsmouth City Council was instructed by the Environment Secretary to raise an Order for a Restricted Byway.  

Thanks to the steadfast dedication and campaigning of Anna Koor, Ken Bailey and the Camber Action Group, and with the support of the Open Spaces Society; the quayside path around the Camber is now on the road to becoming a Public Right of Way – which is what the campaign is all about! This milestone step towards the protection of our public access to this pathway comes after a lengthy four-year campaign of rejected applications and appeals.

“This is wonderful news Tamara”, I hear you cry! “But what does that actually mean? Raising an order? Public right of way? What is this language you speak?”

Well, dear reader, basically this means that Anna and the campaign are moving closer to their aim to ensure that this historic route finally becomes fully protected by law. 

Headshot of community campaigner Anna Koor

 

But don’t just take my word for it, as to tell us more and to explain in plain English what this all means, Anna Koor is here with me.

campaign Chat Time with Anna

Tamara: Anna, welcome to Shades of Green and congratulations on the success of your appeal.

Let me start by saying  I am feeling rather sheepish as I know next to nothing about public rights of way and raising orders, and so will probably be asking you some rather obvious questions!

Anna: Hi Tamara, it’s great to catch up with you and even better to also explain more about what a milestone this news is for people in Portsmouth.

Tamara:  Before we get to the nitty-gritty of your recent triumph, please tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement in the community.

Anna: I’ve lived back in Pompey with my partner since 2005 – we both were here in our formative years as students at the Polytechnic in the 1980s. So in that respect, I do consider Portsmouth my spiritual as well as physical home. I’m self-employed as a book editor but also work locally as a barista and baker.

I am very involved in my local community and campaigns like Community Speedwatch. Speeding is something I could rant on about endlessly so a few years ago I signed up for Community SpeedWatch with some of my neighbours and we started doing education exercises on our 20mph streets.

I also joined the Green Party in March 2015 and ended up standing as a Green Party local council candidate. The Greens did really well across the whole city and from talking to voters I got the impression that they were fed-up with the three big parties and wanted an alternative.

The Camber dock

Boats on the Camber

Tamara: You seems to be very connected with your community. Where did the Camber Dock come in? I have to admit I don’t know much about it, apart from The Bridge Street Tavern pub!

Anna: The Camber Dock is just around the corner from us. One of our first discoveries, when we moved back to Pompey, was this little gem tucked away behind the Cathedral — the Camber Dock became our daily post-work ‘constitutional’.

The Camber Dock is part of the Old Portsmouth Conservation Area. It really is a hidden treasure – I think we must be the only seafront city with a fishing fleet right in the heart of the urban environment. The Camber is where Portsmouth was born – the city grew out of this little enclave centuries ago.

The land the Camber sits on is owned by Portsmouth City Council and is used by the Port– it, therefore, belongs to all of us and is a valuable heritage asset. The public – locals, visitors etc – have always used this quayside road along with users such as boat owners and fishermen.

Many of us would be unhappy to see this land sold and possibly lost to the public.  

THE CAMPAIGN FOR RIGHT OF WAY BEGINS

Tamara: Gosh, I had assumed that as it was public land, the council would have to honour that. How did you get involved in campaigning to protect the area? What brought it to your attention?

Anna: Ken Bailey and I are the applicants who originally applied to the Council in 2014 to register the Right of Way. Ken was born and brought up in and around the Camber and still lives a stone’s throw from it – he remembers using it as a playground back in his youth.

It was only when we heard about the redevelopment plans at the Camber in 2014, to make way for the Ben Ainslie Racing building, that we got together with fellow residents because we were worried that the right of way we had all been using might be under threat. It wasn’t the building we were concerned about but the possibility that the route around the water’s edge might no longer be accessible to the public.  

Tamara: I have no idea how to challenge the Council on public access other than complaining on Facebook, which as we all know isn’t always super effective! How did you and Ken go about it?

Anna: Well, when it became clear that the Camber quaysides were in danger of being blocked to the public, a group of us teamed up and joined the national Open Spaces Society in order to learn more about rights of way and what we could do to protect this route in law under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Like you, I knew very little about rights of way other than thinking perhaps this could be a way of legally protecting this established route that the public have used for decades. We applied to Portsmouth City Council to have the definitive map and register amended to add a Right of Way.

Tamara: Definitive map? Is this like Google Maps but more authoritative?

Anna: *chuckles politely at Tamara’s terrible joke* Not quite – Definitive Maps are a legal record of all Rights of Way in England. They are kept by Surveying Authorities who have a duty to keep them updated. Portsmouth City Council is a Surveying Authority.  

THE JOYS OF APPLYING TO THE COUNCIL

Tamara: Ahhh, I see. Thanks for explaining that. What did putting together the application involve? I can imagine it wasn’t simple and straightforward?

Anna: It has been a very long and drawn out process.  Along with other volunteer supporters, we spent an age going through historic records in the Portsmouth History Centre. We scoured the minutes of council committees going back to when records began.

The process we used essentially involved supplying witness statements demonstrating that the Camber route had enjoyed uninterrupted use by the public over a 20 year period. We provided witness statements to that effect, along with documentary and photographic evidence of historic use.  

Tamara: Anna, this sounds like SO much work! I feel overwhelmed just thinking about all the research and paperwork. With all this evidence behind you, why didn’t the Council approve the application?

THE FOUR-YEAR KNOCKBACK

Anna: Well, our first application in 2014 was refused, partly because the Council considered that a right of way around the quay edge would interfere with the duties of the Port, even though our evidence demonstrated that the public has always used this route in happy co-existence with port activities.

Tamara: I assume you took to Facebook in armchair rage at the futility of local politics?

Anna: Not exactly! Instead, we appealed to the Secretary of State. This was dismissed – not because of reasons to do with the port, but because of an amendment to government legislation. It is very convoluted, but to cut a long story short, we had no option but to make fresh applications in 2016 to the Council to record a different category of Right of Way – either a Restricted Byway or a Footpath.

Tamara: Please tell me this time the council agreed and they offered you the key to the city. (I have been watching a lot of ‘Parks and Recreation‘ lately.)

Anna: That would have been nice but no such luck. Again, the council refused.

Tamara: So far, it’s sounding like you were being knocked back at every turn. The Council rejected your application twice. How did you turn it around?

AN ORDER IS RAISED (THIS IS A GOOD THING)

Anna: Last year we appealed for the second time to the Secretary of State. This time, the Planning Inspector re-examined all the evidence and any fresh information we had unearthed and instructed Portsmouth City Council to raise an Order for a Restricted Byway. Ultimately, this will lead to getting the Right of Way registered on the definitive map.

View of the Camber

Tamara: Yes! Result! Anna and Ken against the Man!  Just to clarify…asking for a friend – what does it mean to raise an Order?

Anna: Basically, to amend the definitive map by adding an established Right of Way, the Surveying Authority (Portsmouth City Council) needs to publish an Order which anyone has the opportunity to comment on.

Tamara: Whew, what a process to get to this stage! You and Ken have my admiration as I don’t know many people with your tenacity and perseverance.  It must have been rather disheartening to do so much work and get numerous rejections. What kept you going?

*hums Tubthumping’s ‘Chumbawamba -I Get Knocked Down‘*

Anna: Really, it was the strength of feeling among the local community, the compelling evidence we found and the feeling that we had to see this through to some kind of just conclusion meant we felt compelled to Appeal. The only way we could feel that our case could be properly settled was by an independent Planning Inspector.

Tamara: Which is what has finally happened with the Planning Inspector instructing PCC to raise an Order for a Restricted Byway. I will definitely be commenting on this Order, in your favour obvs, when it is published. When is that going to be?

Anna: We hope this is now done without further delay and that this route finally becomes fully protected in law so that future generations can continue enjoying it.

Tamara: Thank you so much for speaking to me today. It has been a pleasure. Good luck with the rest of the campaign and please do come back and update us after the Order is published.

 

For more information or to get in contact with Anna Koor or Ken Bailey about the Camber Dock campaign,  email anna.koor@ntlworld.com.

You can also find out more about their appeal success here as reported in The Portsmouth News.

What are your thoughts on the Camber campaign? Have you ever gone up against the Council? Tell us in the comments below.

How I Eco-Hack My Kitchen – A Green Goddess Series

In my household eating is a much-beloved activity and cleaning is most definitely  not. In this series on eco-kitchen hacks, I (Tamara) will be focusing on my attempts at green kitchen living. I will share with you my tried and tested tips – from how to eat sustainably, to where I buy food for me and my husband, to food storage and food waste, and of course the ever-dreaded cleaning.

In this post, I will be focusing on five easy and sustainable changes I have made. So, as they sing in Oliver, let’s get started with Food, Glorious Food, magical Food, Wonderful Food!

Man eating strawberries and cream

  1. Buy Sustainable & Certified Foods

fair trade Madagascan cacao bag

My requirement of food is simple –  I want the food I eat to cause me transcendental bliss, to tickle my tastebuds into spasms of delight, to satisfy my stomach and my mind. Surely that’s not asking for much?

What I do not want to taste is worry and guilt in every bite about the unfair treatment of producers and farmers, horrific animal welfare, industrial-scale deforestation, overfishing, air miles, and pollution, and the overall negative ecological impact – ain’t nobody got time for that!

This is why, wherever possible, I buy certified and sustainable food that can relieve both my conscience and my hunger. Whatever your food preferences, whether you are a meat-lover, meat reducer, pescetarian, vegetarian, vegan or fruitarian (not an exhaustive list!) – my first nugget of green wisdom is to be on the lookout for food produced to certified and traceable standards, ideally that goes above and beyond the legal minimum.

Logos and marks I look out for include Fairtrade, the green frog of Rainforest Alliance, the bluefish of MSC (Marine Stewardship Council), RSPCA Assured, Free Range and Soil Association Organic.

Yes, some certified foods can be more expensive as there are higher welfare and environmental standards involved with the farmers and producers are being paid a fair living wage. Yes, I have to make choices and yes, compromises also have to be made. This is why I have my ‘non-negotiables’ and my  ‘if-money-allows’.

My non-negotiables include free range eggs, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance bananas and coffee, MSC fish and seafood, and free-range or RSPCA-assured meats.

If money allows, I have organic eggs, vegetables, meat and cheese, and Fairtrade flowers and wine for when I am feeling fancy.

And finally, I always buy local if that option is available to me – this Christmas I had family visiting from Trinidad and so as it was a special occasion, I splashed out on a local free-range goose for them from the family-run Ashford Farm near Petersfield. I won’t lie, it was expensive but (I am assured) delicious and so worth it!  I also regularly buy fresh produce from my local Milton Market greengrocers Portsmouth Fruit and Flowers who stock veg and flowers from Titchfield. My Titchfield-grown daffodils from them are nodding happily to me as I type!

Basket of Daffodils

So whether it is choosing Fairtrade bananas in your a weekly food shop, or making the choice to buy RSPCA ham from Lidl or MSC certified fish fingers from Tesco’s or buying locally grown sprouts and daffodils from Portsmouth Fruit and Flowers greengrocers; each ethical, sustainable and local choice you make means an unsustainable food item is being left on the shelf. And that my friends, is the power of consumer choice. Boom!

For more information on the various certifications I mentioned and many that I didn’t, I found this list on the Love British Food website useful.

 

  1. Make Your Own Bread

Bread Rolls

Keeping on the topic of food, mine is a bread-loving household as the Dutchman (my husband) would eat bread for every meal if he could. Bread with cheese, bread with peanut butter, bread with chocolate spread – I think I’m married to a man-child!

Last February 2017, he was gifted a bread machine from a kind friend and it has seriously changed our lives! He makes a bread every 2 days and as we no longer buy shop-bread, we no longer have to deal with the plastic bags they come in, thus reducing our plastic waste. I salute those who make bread by hand – we tried it a few times and failed miserably. I’m happy with the convenience of the bread machine, for us it’s revolutionary!

 

  1. Use cloth napkins

cloth napkin with flowers and cutlery

Another small change that has helped reduce the amount of waste we produce is using cloth napkins instead of paper kitchen roll.

I am a mucky pup and spillages are a common occurrence. Cloth napkins are reusable, can be chucked in with my laundry, and it looks fancy shmancy!

I sourced mine from charity shops and my Mum who had more cloth napkins than one person could ever need. I have greatly reduced my (FSC and recycled) paper towel usage as I just use tea towels or cloth napkins instead.

 

  1. (Re) Fill Your Own

refill spice jars

As a prolific user of herbs and spices (smoked paprika makes everything taste yum!), I was delighted to find I can refill my spice jars at Wild Thyme Wholefoods who offer an amazing self-service for herbs and spices as well as a refill service for laundry and washing up liquid.

I recently refilled my Ecover laundry and washing liquid at Southsea Health Shop and it was cheaper than Tescos! Trust me, I checked! This does require a tiny bit more planning, and I am aiming to have one bottle in use and one pre-filled under the sink so I don’t run out and have to do a supermarket dash.

 

  1. Composting

compost heap

I have been lucky that the majority of places I’ve lived in here in Pompey had outdoor space for a compost bin. I compost all uncooked fruit and veg peelings and for years had been also innocently including tea bags made from polypropyleneNow if I am unsure if the material of the tea bag is made from plastic, I just add the tea leaves to the compost and discard the bag. I am currently working my way through a back-supply of tea bags and will be moving onto loose tea to save myself those 5 seconds of extra work.

Other than that, I just throw in my veg scraps every few days with some newspaper and let the compost do its magic. I might aerate it once a year if it’s lucky, but the rest is up to the worms! So far, so good! Though eggshells and coffee grounds can also be added to the compost, I add these to my garden as snail and slug deterrents. Those little bastards eat everything except the bloody weeds!

For those of us in flats or with no outdoor space, you could experiment a wormery or bokashi bin. Years ago,  I used to have a bokashi bin, but was too lazy to look after it properly and so it went horribly wrong. I’ve been thinking I might give it another go as you can add almost all food waste in a bokashi bin including cooked food. I need to research it first as it needs to be convenient for my lazy ass!

Alternatively- or as well as- find a friend or neighbour with a compost bin who you can donate your organic waste to! Try signing up with ShareWaste, a free app that links together people with organic scraps with people who have compost bins, wormeries, or chickens. So far, there are only a few of us in the Pompey area on there, but the word is getting out there, so sign up! Coincidentally, the first request I received was from someone who has the fermented organic waste from her bokashi bin to donate to my compost.

In this post , have just scratched the surface on the many small changes that I have made to green-ify my kitchen. What green kitchen tips do you have? Do you compost and if so,  do you just chuck it all in and hope for the best like me? Have you signed up to ShareWaste or know of any other similar useful apps? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Recycle in Portsmouth 2: Recycling the Unrecyclable

In one of our very first posts back in August, we talked about what can be recycled in our lovely port city of Portsmouth, both at kerbside and at recycling banks scattered across the city.

 

To quickly recap, the council kerbside collection accepts metal cans, tins and aerosols, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard as well as small electrical equipment (WEEE). Easy peasy lemon squeezy as I (Tamara) don’t have to leave my house.

 

For those adventurous souls who like to venture into the great outdoors, there is a mix of council, charity, and supermarket recycling banks across the city that accept a variety of materials – mostly textiles, glass jars and bottles, and printer cartridges. But let’s not forget my piece de resistance – mixed plastics at Sainsbury’s.

 

Though I am pleased I can reduce my waste through recycling mixed plastics, it does require more effort than kerbside collection as I have to leave my house – you know how I feel about that!! I have rocked up to Sainsbury’s Farlington with a car full to the brim – and this is no exaggeration – with mixed plastics from my household, my next-door neighbour, and at least 5 other people from Portsmouth Green Party who don’t have cars. And then…prepare yourself for the horror….the recycling bank is overflowing and I have to take it all back home again. Bloody pain, I tell you! First world problems, I know – but incredibly frustrating nonetheless! So much so, I took it upon myself to contact Sainsbury’s to ask about their scheduled emptying of the banks and they notified me that they had ordered a second bin to the store to accommodate all the recyclable plastic. I’m rock ‘n roll like that!

 

 

Enough of my ranting. Let’s turn our green dial up and look at the other household bits and bobs that can also be recycled in Pompey at supermarket collection points and recycling banks. 

Household Batteries

batteries

Collection bins for domestic batteries can be found in most chain supermarkets – and not just the larger superstores but also, for example, your local Tesco Express. Check the supermarkets you frequent the most and I guarantee you will find a battery collection bin.  My nearest one is at my local Co-Op. You can also locate your nearest battery recycling online. A quick postcode search on Recycle More shows collection points at a variety of shops including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, One-Stop, Toys ‘R’ Us, Debenhams, Mothercare, and Maplin Electronics – but remember not all options are necessarily listed online or in one place.

 

Since 2010, a change in the law means that larger providers that sell batteries also need to provide in-store collection for used batteries. Tesco has battery-recycling points at all Express, Metro, Superstore, and Extra stores and also accepts batteries from mobile phones, laptops, hearing aids, watches, cameras, cordless power tools, electric toothbrushes, razors and hand-held vacuum cleaners. Sainsbury’s also offer a take back scheme for all portable waste batteries. Lots of other stores also have collection bins for batteries – just keep your eyes peeled.

 

It is so important to recycle batteries as if disposed of in landfill they can leach chemicals into the ground causing soil and water pollution. The majority of our waste in Pompey is incinerated and burning batteries can cause atmospheric pollution. A large proportion of batteries bought in the UK are not recycled and end up with household waste. Prevent these toxins from entering our environment and recycle your batteries!

 

You can also consider switching to rechargeable batteries which are a greener, more cost-effective option and can also be recycled at the end of their lifespan!

 

A final note, check the batteries of your smoke alarms and, unless it is a ten-year alarm, remember to change (and recycle!) the batteries once a year.

 

 

Plastic Carrier Bags

I have noticed collection points for recycling plastic carrier bags at some larger supermarkets such as the Commercial Road Sainsbury’s and the Palmerston Road Waitrose [and the Commercial Road and North Habour Tesco’s- Emma].

 

Some of these collection points also allow for other packaging films to be included such as plastic bread bags and the plastic wrappers from toilet roll and kitchen towel packs. I will write a follow-up post on this as I want to be sure of what exactly can be included before I send you off on a recycling pilgrimage!

 

Water Filters

 

Online search facilities have failed me on this one – however, luckily Emma, our Instagram Queen, spotted that the big Tescos at North Harbour has a recycling station for water filters cartridges. Other than Tescos, the only other option I am aware of is collection points for  BRITA branded water filters. These can be recycled locally at Boots, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Argos, where boxes are provided for the collection of used Brita cartridges.

 

Cartons

juice carton

Juice cartons, milk cartons, cartons for tomatoes and soup…I wish I could tell you these can be recycled locally. But sadly, they can’t. Don’t get me wrong, it is totally possible to recycle cartons and tetrapaks – Portsmouth City Council just doesn’t provide this facility.

Some of you have asked us if cartons can be recycled with kerbside recycling of paper and card or at Sainsbury’s mixed plastic banks. Good question but the answer is unfortunately no. This is because cartons are made of a mix of paper, plastic and aluminium foil and so would contaminate either the paper or plastics collection if included.

The nearest permanent carton recycling banks I have found through Recycle Now are in Bognor Regis and Chandlers Ford. Southampton City Council is currently trialling mixed plastics recycling banks which happily for our neighbouring city does include cartons (tetrapaks) as well as plastics like plastic meat and ready meal trays and plastic bottle tops. I am seriously jealous. This is my call to action – if Southampton can have cartons recycling, so can Pompey!!!

 

Energy Saving Light Bulbs

lightbulb

Let’s end on a bright note – haha, do you see what I did there? I am pleased to tell you that recycling light bulbs are pretty straightforward. Old style standard light bulbs cannot be recycled but energy saving light bulbs – which are a type of fluorescent lamp – can be recycled. Robert Dyas, Commercial Road Sainsbury’s and Curry’s PC World all have collection points/ recycling banks for energy saving light bulbs.

 

Have you spotted any recycling banks or collection points that I have missed? What other recycling facilities would you like to see in Portsmouth? Let us know in the comments below. And ’til next time, Happy Recycling!

 

LET POMPEY BREATHE

 

As we welcome in the new year with all its possibilities, we also warmly welcome our first guest post written by Portsmouth Green Party Coordinator Mike Wines. As the Green candidate for Fratton ward in this year’s upcoming local council elections, Mike is spearheading the #LetPompeyBreathe joint initiative which addresses the city’s poor air quality and brings together local groups: Portsmouth Friends of the Earth, Milton Neighbourhood Forum and  Portsmouth Green Party.

 

Mike puts this global and national issue of air quality and outside air pollution firmly in local perspective as he discusses the effect of outside air pollution on Pompey residents health, the council’s 10-year Air Quality Strategy which was published last summer  and the follow-up Draft Air Quality Action Plan which is currently in the ‘scoping phase’ and is still not published and consulted on.

So without further ado, Mike, please take us back, waaaaay back to the summer of ‘17 and tell us – what’s the deal with air quality in Portsmouth?

 

Image of Portsmouth Green Party Coordinator and local council candidate Mike Wines campaigning for clean air.

Mike writes…

On 17 July 2017, Councillor Simon Bosher, Portsmouth City Council Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transportation, ‘stressed that he was approving the Air Quality Strategy report and he was awaiting the action plan which should be brought back in a timely way; he would expect a report back before Christmas.’  It’s in the minutes so it must be true.  Sadly he omitted to state which Christmas.  As we welcome in 2018 it would appear, despite the natural assumption, he didn’t mean 2017.

On 28 October 2017, I joined many others on a Clean Air Walk organised by our friends at Portsmouth Friends of The Earth.  The route took us along Fratton Road, Kingston Road and London Road Corridor, an area that breaches national targets with its high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The walk was aimed at highlighting the direct impact of traffic on local communities and our city’s air quality.  I found it sadly ironic that I was personally unable to complete the walk thanks to the actual lack of air quality in the city.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

On 2 November 2017, SE Green MEP Keith Taylor and I met with representatives from Portsmouth City Council, Dr. Jason Horsley, Director of Public Health, and Richard Lee, Regulatory Service Manager and Air Quality Specialist to discuss the city’s poor air quality.  After the meeting, Keith stated that he welcomed the news that the upcoming Air Quality Action Plan will be put out for consultation. He went on to say “However, it is worrying that there is no timeline to do this. Every day that passes, is one too many for those vulnerable to dirty air. We need to urgently ensure the city is brought within legal pollution limits and made a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists, and children walking to school.”

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

I don’t know about you but, personally speaking, I am fed up with having streaming eyes and getting out of breath walking 10 minutes out of my front door.  I’d love to enjoy the markets on Palmerston Road and in the past I’d have happily taken the 20 minutes to walk down there.  My only option now is to drive down there and add to the problem. It would be nice also not to be an added burden on our overstretched NHS. (On a side note, click here to see Mike talking about his personal experience on how the lack of funding for the NHS and Care in the Community has impacted on his father’s deteriorating health. Ok, back to Mike’s post!)

To quote myself after the November meeting with MEP Keith Taylor and the Council representatives: “The city council’s Air Quality Action Strategy is wholly inadequate for the task as it stands. Unless the strategy is accompanied by a detailed plan to bring air pollution within safe levels, we are left with poor a prospect of Portsmouth being rid of its air pollution scourge. We need to see urgent solutions to address the traffic problem in the city. Not just to and from the tourist areas such as Gunwharf Quays, but the traffic problem across all areas of the city such as Fratton Road, Kingston Road, and London Road where residents live, work and learn.”

Councillor Bosher appeared to neglect to ask Father Christmas last year for the Action Plan.  Let’s hope he’s asked the 2018 Easter Bunny.

 

Thanks, Mike!

To find out more about the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign, visit:

 

But wait, there’s more! Why not go offline and learn more about Portsmouth’s air quality from an informed local resident whilst having a chat and a pint with like-minded individuals?  Check out Portsmouth Green Drinks upcoming  event this January 10th at The Kings Pub, 39 Albert Road, Portsmouth, PO5 2SE at 7.30pm.

From 8pm, Mike Dobson from Friends of Old Portsmouth Association will be speaking on ‘A Community Perspective on Air Quality’. He will talk about some of his findings in relation to Air Quality in the city.  

He will briefly explore:

  • the misreporting of estimated mortality from air pollution,
  • the limitations of the analysis of air pollution and flawed assessment of trends,
  • the lack of response to inputs on consultation,
  • the strange decision not to publicise that unnecessary engine idling is illegal, and
  • question if increasing active travel (walking and cycling) is a tool to improve air quality or a hoped-for outcome when/if air quality has improved.

Portsmouth Green Drinks is a great way of meeting others working in the environmental sector, or who are simply interested in environmental & sustainability issues and want to enjoy a relaxed evening in good company.

Portsmouth Green Drinks is part of the Green Drinks network, an international informal networking group on an environmental theme.

Volunteering in Portsmouth this holiday season

It is December in Pompey. The days are crisp, mornings are frosty, the heating is on and I bought my Secret Santa gift at the Love Southsea Christmas Market on Palmerston Road. So for me (Tamara), the festive season is here!

 

I generally enjoy the activities and hubbub around Christmas but I definitely struggle with the consumerism that surrounds it. A gremlin who lives in my brain is awakened around mid-November who really wants me to buy the things, buy all the beautiful things!  Over the last few years, my husband and I have tried to create our own traditions that isn’t about ‘stuff’. We make homemade cranberry vodka, Guyanese-style black rum cake and he makes a very alcoholic knock-your-socks-off Dutch-style advocat. But our traditions don’t revolve solely around booze: we get a real, sustainable Forestry Commision Christmas tree from Queen Elizabeth’s Country Park which thrills my Trinidadian heart and we also go to the truly magical Cathedral Christmas Carol Service which soothes my soul.

As the years have passed and we have celebrated more Christmases as fully-fledged real-life adults, I started to become more socially aware and wanted to do something at Christmas that didn’t focus primarily on gift giving and stuff. There is very little I need and with my friends and family scattered across the country, I would rather see them and spend time together drinking some of that home-made cranberry vodka and advocat (but not mixed together…I tried that one year…and just – no!).

 

So for the last few years, my hubby and I have spent Christmas Day in Fareham, volunteering as a Christmas Day Lunch Helper. It is a wonderful initiative which hosts 100 guests who would otherwise find themselves alone at Christmas. I absolutely love helping out – the best thing is being able to chat, chat and chat a bit more with the guests. A traditional Christmas lunch is served, carols are sung and raffles are won. For me, this makes it a day that fills me with hope and joy and all the smushy stuff. Last year, fellow Pompey Green Party members Tracey and Mac also volunteered closer to home on Christmas Day at a joint event with Portsmouth Cathedral and FoodCycle. Tracey enjoyed it so much she is on the look-out for any Christmas Day volunteering opportunities this year.

 

I also participate in the the Rucksack Event which every November collects rucksacks full of useful everyday items for homeless people in the city. I have fun scouring the charity shops all year round collecting socks, sleeping bags etc. This year I wasn’t organised enough to get my rucksack together for their collection date in November but luckily I can still take the stuff I gathered to Hope House Hostel direct.

 

Of course, not everyone wants or is able to volunteer on Christmas Day or during the festive season. If you can, donate your time, money, food or skills to one of the many fantastic local projects and charities that help vulnerable, homeless and isolated people both in the winter and all year round. The projects I mention are ones that I have directly been involved in but there are many more that you can find through good ‘ol google or Facebook or however you find stuff out!

 

Have you volunteered on Christmas Day or during the festive season? Do you know of any Christmas Day volunteering events in or around Portsmouth that Tracey can get involved in? Tell us about it in the Comments section below.

How to recycle your mobile phone and donate to Portsmouth Green Party

Hallo, it’s Tamara here, home recycling and zero waste enthusiast, with some more tips on how to recycle in Pompey. I’m all about doing what is easy and manageable and today’s post enables you to help save the environment, recycle your old phones and ink cartridges as well as support your local Portsmouth Green Party, all at the same time and with minimum effort. Bonus!

The Portsmouth Green Party has recently joined two schemes which facilitate the recycling of printer ink cartridges and mobile phones. You can recycle your inkjet cartridges and mobile phones with Recycle4Charity and your laser/toner cartridges and all other printer consumables through Zero Waste Recycling. Of course, there are other recycling schemes and charities that you can donate to – but I’m all about the Green Party and so is this blog!

Each item you recycle will raise money to support our local campaigns, i.e. the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign, we are raising awareness on the unsafe air quality in Portsmouth.  

Every penny donated to us makes a difference as we campaign to make real and lasting changes in Portsmouth by electing Portsmouth’s first green councillor in Fratton. To give you an idea, it costs £20 to print 100 posters, so every £1 raised through recycled printer cartridges buys us five posters! That’s five more potential votes!

 

So how exactly does one recycle these printer cartridges and archaic brick-like mobile phones that have been in a plastic bag so long the bag has started to disintegrate? (Please say it’s not just me that does that!). Well, the lovely Alexa, a local Pompey Green Party campaigner and all round lovely person, has done the research for us! Thanks Alexa! (not sponsored by Amazon!)

Recycle Inkjet Printer Cartridges & Mobile Phones

 

 

Through the Recycle4Charity’s free service, the Portsmouth Green Party will receive £1 for every empty, reusable inkjet printer cartridge that you send them and that is on their ‘wanted list’ and up to £70 for every mobile phone. All mobile phones- even those that are broken and faulty- and 188 inkjet cartridges brands that fulfil their criteria are accepted.  

 

Click here to order envelopes or a box to fill with your recyclable items. You will need to register your details, choose your beneficiary (Portsmouth Green Party – C85428) and the recycling envelopes/ box will be sent to you free of charge.  Each envelope can hold up to 5 inkjet cartridges. Mobile phones must be returned via a box and this can only be collected once it is filled with 25 items (can be a mixture of mobile phones and inkjet cartridges). Envelopes are sent via freepost and box collection is also free!

 

We are also happy to take inkjet cartridges or mobile phones from you at local Green Party meetings or events.  Our regular local party meeting now takes place on the second Monday of the month at the Havelock Centre, Fawcett Road.

 

With Recycle4Charity, there is a criteria on what they accept. The inkjet cartridges must be in a suitable condition to be recycled. They must not have  been refilled before and carry only the original equipment manufacturers branding.

 

Please note that you cannot put Epson or Kodak cartridges in the recycling envelopes as their value will not cover postage costs, but do not despair, these can be included in a box.

 

And keep reading, as you can also recycle your printer cartridges that have been refilled or are not manufacturers branding etc. with their sister scheme Zero Waste Recycling! So happily nothing need go to landfill.

 

Recycling ALL Printer Consumables

 

 

To enable you to recycle even more, we’ve also joined Zero Waste Recycling, which offers a facility for all printer consumables in which they will recycle or reuse all materials. Zero Waste Recycling is the scheme for you if you use cartridges that can’t be recycled with Recycle4Charity such as compatible printer cartridges rather than market brands, laser toner cartridges or use inktanks rather than inkjets (yes, there is a difference and no, I didn’t know that before writing!), as they accept basically all printer consumables you want to dispose of, whether original, damaged, remanufactured or compatible, no matter what brand or model.

 

This includes:

 

  • Inkjet Cartridges
  • Inktank Cartridges
  • Laser Cartridges
  • Toner Bottles
  • Imaging Units
  • Drum Units
  • Fuser Units
  • Transfer Belts
  • Waste Toner Bottles

 

You can order a box to return your items for a fee, or use your own box, so long as it fits their size and weight criteria. There is a fee involved for the collection of the box.  For reusable cartridges that have a high market value, you will receive a rebate which you can choose to put towards future collections or donate to us.

 

Click here to register and to book a collection of all types of printer consumables, including laser toner cartridges.

 

What I really like about the Zero Waste Recycling scheme is that they provide a Zero Waste Certificate which is your proof that none of your printer consumable waste went into incineration or landfill. Do you remember the myths and misreporting that recycling just ends up in landfill? No such worries here!  It doesn’t by the way and here’s a 2016 Huffington Post article that addresses that.

 

Why not start up a collection at work or among your housemates to fill the boxes more quickly?

 

Remember, each and every item you recycle or reuse means that one less item is being sent to landfill or incinerator – and it really does make a difference, no matter the size. And to paraphrase the advice of Dory, the loveable forgetful royal blue tang fish, just keep recycling!

 

What’s in Tamara’s Magic Green Backpack?

This is a short one from me (Tamara) this week. With the autumn drawing in and my depression coming out to play, I’m focusing on the small wins. So let’s play, what’s in my backpack?

Inspired by my zero-waste experiment earlier this year, I made myself a zero-waste pack that lives in my backpack. The aim is to actively reduce my use of single-use plastic and as I mentioned in a previous post, it started with a straw!

 

 

 

Reusable Bamboo Straw

Luckily the lovely people in my life are used to my green ways and do not bat an eyelid when I decline a straw and triumphantly pull out my huge bamboo straw from my backpack. I am slowly getting used to the texture of it and have found that chocolate milkshakes are the way to go!

 

Bag in a Bag

I first discovered these on a visit to my in-laws in Holland for 1 euro! Needless to say, I bought way more than I could use in a lifetime and felt very smug when they started making an appearance in the UK following the 5p charge on plastic bags. I keep one in my backpack, my car, and my husband’s motorbike and I heart them! Zero waste win!

 

Spork

This had been languishing in the back of my kitchen drawer for millennia and has found a new lease of life simply by being rehomed to my backpack. Is it a fork? Is it a spoon? No, it a super spork! I also had a disposable plastic knife but they kept breaking as they are so flimsy and also didn’t fit my lovely little dedicated purse – so when I saw a plastic take-apart-able knife, fork and spoon set in the sales I added the knife my pack. The fork and spoon live in my car and are great for unplanned chip shop visits!

 

Reusable Water Bottle

Finding this bottle was a labour of love and I will tell you all about it in a future post. But its key points are it’s a stainless steel, BPA-free bottle that keeps my water chilled to perfection without condensation! I never leave home without it!

 

Collapsible Coffee Cup

This is my pièce de résistance! A reusable, collapsible silicone coffee cup, I use it whenever I am tempted by the free coffee at Waitrose. This together with the fact that Costa Coffee offer in-store recycling of ANY brand of paper cup means that my coffee cup waste is practically zero! Huzzah!

 

Hankybook

This is probably the most controversial item in my backpack! Those lovely people I mentioned earlier who are so accepting of my plastic straw war baulk at my hankybook. Beats me why! It is a reusable and washable cotton cloth ‘book’ that I use instead of… ok, honestly – as well as- disposable paper tissues. It has a protective cover but to be doubly sure I store it in a cute little pineapple purse a friend gave me for my birthday.

 

Disclaimer: The links to the particular items that live in my backpack are not sponsored or affiliated or anything like that – just my personal choices purchased either after lots of research or after no research whatsoever! They all have their pros and cons and some are quite pricey, so please do your research! Or don’t – it’s up to you! 🙂

War on Straws

Earlier this year, for the month of May, my hubby and I  (Tamara) tracked and tried to reduce our non-recyclable waste  I did my best to avoid single-use plastic and to be more mindful of this when I shopped and ate out.

Plastic cutlery and straws have always been a sore spot in our house because I will always bring them home with me and reuse them till they fall apart or my hubby chucks them. My hoarding tendencies drive him mad and soon there was more plastic cutlery in our house than real cutlery!

Straws are such a small thing – but they can’t be recycled easily and straws find their way into our seas and oceans, causing havoc to the sea life. Many moons ago, I bought a metal straw from a Green Fair at Victoria Park for the grand total of £1! I love it and it has pride of place in my kitchen and it even came with a teeny little brush cleaner thingy to stop it going manky. So, refusing straws for one month would be easy…right? Uh…not quite!

 

 

First, most of the time it didn’t even occur to me that I would be given a straw with my drink. So I would be surprised when I received one and then would sheepishly use it anyway. Then, I would remember about the straw after I ordered a drink. And finally, towards the end, I would remember while ordering to state ‘No Straw thanks’ and then would be enraged when 75% of the time, my drink would arrive with a straw in it anyway!

 

Once, I was out for lunch with a friend at Koh Thai Tapas on Elm Grove and was super chuffed with myself for remembering to say no straw at the point of ordering. My delicious ice-filled cocktail arrived without a straw. Yess! I am saving the world one straw at a time! I looked at my drink. It was a very tall glass. My friend looked at it. She took her straw out of her drink and gave it to me. I shook my head defiantly. Never! I shall not yield! I will not be defeated in my mission. I tried to sip my cocktail. My nose bumped into the ice. I sighed and took her straw! I then took her straw home with me and added it to the ‘Bag of Shame’ – what we called the bag that contained all of May’s non-recyclable waste (apart from food waste…cause, Ewww!).

 

 

Though I lost that small battle, my straw vendetta continues. While I love my metal straw, I find it bangs and clanks in my glass at night whenever I sip my water. I was determined to solve this niche first world problem. I turned to my mate Google and bought myself some bamboo straws. Four for £5. Not as cheap as my original metal straw but not too expensive. My friend christened them with a number of gin and tonics – she said they made her feel like she was on holiday! I used one the next day with water and I hated the texture of the bamboo straw in my mouth and it made my water taste weird. Sigh! Maybe I will have to only drink gin and then I’ll be fine with them! So my war on straws continues…

How to Recycle in Portsmouth

Greetings all.

 

If you found your way here, you’re probably looking for some tips on going green in our port city. Don’t worry; I (Tamara) have got all the info you need.

 

I am so pleased to live in a city that has a kerbside recycling collection for most items. Portsmouth City Council’s fortnightly kerbside collection helps me to save the planet while staying in bed! Win win! So, for those of you who may be new to the recycling malarkey – dudes, it couldn’t be easier!

 

Warning – useful information below! 🙂

 

Kerbside Collection
All items must be clean, dry and loose:

Metal:
Drink Cans
Food tins
Aerosols (No lids- Take these to mixed plastic banks)

Plastic: Bottles:
Plastic bottles (No lids- Take these to mixed plastic banks)
Cleaner and detergent bottles
Milk bottles (No lids- Take these to Lush)
Drinks bottles
Toiletries and shampoo bottles

Paper
Newspapers
Envelopes
Junk mail
Magazines
Telephone directories
Window envelopes
Yellow Pages
Greeting cards
Other paper (No shredded paper- Take this to Asda Bridge Centre and Tesco City Centre Crasswell)

EDIT: OCTOBER 2018 – Unfortunately, Asda Bridge Centre no longer accepts shredded paper. Tamara is investigating if Tesco Crasswell Street still accepts it. In the meantime, chuck shredded paper into your compost!

Cardboard:
Cardboard egg boxes
Cardboard fruit and veg punnets (please break down larger boxes)
Cardboard sleeves
Cereal boxes
Corrugated cardboard
Toilet roll tubes

Small electrical items
Small electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in standard sized supermarket carrier bag which must be placed beside or on top of your recycling bin.

 

 

Recycling Banks

 

But wait! There’s more! There are council, charity, and even supermarket recycling banks dotted across our lovely city.  Here, you can recycle other things like glass (of any colour), mixed plastics, batteries, printer ink cartridges and textiles etc.

 

This example is from Tesco North Harbour:

 

 

Mixed Plastics: Recycling Bank at Sainsbury’s

 

I was so chuffed when I realised that the two big Sainsbury’s supermarkets in the city (Commercial Road and Farlington) have banks for mixed plastics because I haven’t seen any other recycling points for mixed plastics in the city. If you have, please do let me know!

 

So once a week, I take my mixed plastics (as well as my housemates’, my next-door neighbour’s and also some lovely Portsmouth Green Party members’ who are car-free) to one of the big Sainsbury’s stores.

 

They accept:

  •         Margarine and ice cream tubs
  •         Confectionary tubs
  •         Rigid plastic food packets
  •         Yogurt pots
  •         Plastic lids from aerosols, bottles, cartons

They do not accept:

  •         Polystyrene
  •         Plastic food wrapping
  •         Plastic bags (but these can be recycled at most big supermarkets)
  •         Cling film
  •         Meat trays
  •         Toys

 

But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t wait till my plastics bin is overflowing before I take a trip to the recycling bank! And I also treat myself to a veggie sausage sandwich at the Sainsbury’s cafe while I’m there. Delish!

 

Useful Websites

Here are the websites that I use most frequently to check recycling locations:

Recycle Now: https://www.recyclenow.com/local-recycling

Recycle More: https://www.recycle-more.co.uk/bank-locator

Portsmouth City Council: https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/bins-rubbish-and-recycling/recycling.aspx

Hampshire County Council: https://www.hants.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling

 

Final thoughts

 

When I go to throw things away, I try to remember that there is no place called ‘away’. Everything I put in my waste rubbish bin goes somewhere. Usually to an incinerator or a landfill. The less I send to landfill the better.

 

That’s why my household recycling centre looks like this:

Portsmouth has one of the lowest recycling rates in the country, coming in at 338 out of 352 authorities in 2015/16 with the percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting at 23.4%.

 

To give you an idea, the top ranking authority, South Oxfordshire District Council, has a percentage of 66.6%. So, as a city, Portsmouth has a way to go. I hope my efforts will have a ripple effect – one neighbour at a time!

 

Do you have any other recycling hacks for Portsmouth? Let me know in the comments section below.

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