Let’s talk about waste …

Those of us who watched the screening of ‘Trashed’ before the TT planning meeting in April were left in no doubt that waste is a massive problem. Excessive consumption, excessive packaging, and a culture of disposability – it’s easy to feel despondent. But there are positive things we can do as individuals and as communities to reduce the amount of waste that we throw away. The ‘5 Rs’ hierarchy provides a framework for thinking about how to reduce our waste – the higher the option the better the environmental benefit. So, in order of decreasing importance, the 5 Rs are:

Refuse (that’s the verb, not the noun!)

The challenge for all of us is to change our attitudes and behaviours so that as much as possible of our waste is dealt with at the top of the hierarcy. Of course, putting these steps into practice is helped enormously if there is a strong supporting community waste infrastructure in place. Council waste collection services, recycling bins, etc. are a minimum. For those who are interested in what services Northumberland County Council (NCC) can provide, the waste pages of their web-site are a mine of useful information (http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=7547). Here you’ll find details of the NCC waste strategy for Northumberland, and information on how much progress has been made over the last 10 years in diverting waste away from disposal by landfill. It’s a positive story, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done.

NCC also offers to arrange tours of its West Sleekburn recycling facility for interested groups. I’ve been in touch and they have confirmed that they would be happy to host a group from TT. This facility is over by Ashington. Tours usually take about 2 hours, including introduction, coffee and questions and answers. The plant will be in operation during office hours so tours beginning at 10am or 1.30pm are best. The maximum group size is 12, but they ask for a minimum number of 8. The minimum age is 14, there is no maximum age but reasonable mobility is needed, and sensible walking shoes are advised (also, they advise that people with pacemakers need to ask their Doctor’s advice as there are some strong magnets in use).

This is a great opportunity to find out more about how our waste is managed, and maybe identify opportunities to strive for further improvement either as individuals or collectively as TT. For those who are interested in visiting, please let me know at hexham.stuart@gmail.com and include some idea of when over the next 3 months you’d be available. Once we have enough takers I’ll make the arrangements.

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