Knitting & nattering at Healthy Planet’s Books for Free centre in Upminster

We are pleased to launch a new series of blogs about each of our 38 Books for Free centres across England and Wales.  We want to highlight the amazing work done by the volunteers that run the centres and showcase their unique Our first interview is with Lead Volunteer, Daphne.

Daphne tells us all

Daphne tells us all

Tell us about this Books for Free centre…

Books for Free Upminster (in the London Borough of Havering) opened in premises previously occupied by a Woolwich building society branch, in September 2010. We have a large collection of books, vinyl, audio & video tapes, CDs, we can find something for everyone that visits young and old.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for Healthy Planet and what do you get out of it?

I’ve been at the centre from the beginning – my husband and I had both retired a couple of years beforehand (Daphne worked in the health service) but I was never as keen as he was to retire – They [husbands] just want you to wait on them all the time hand and foot! My husband was passing by one day and noticed in the window the advert for a volunteer to start up the centre here. We initially opened the doors with just a single table near the door. We even asked a local Indian restaurant who were having a refurbishment if we could have their old tables. Otherwise they would just have been thrown away.

I live close the centre and I’ve lived in the town for 30 years – I knew very few people in the town other than my close neighbours before Books for Free. Now I know so many faces to say hello to, it’s great.

Browsers in the Upminster centre

Browsers in the Upminster centre

Male Visitor: “It’s friendly at Upminster Books for Free and adds to my bedside table book collection. They have a great selection and we often donate books and always return books we pick up from the centre. No one likes to see books go to waste so this is a great way to save and reuse them.”

Female Visitor: “When it first opened I was wary about coming in but when I did it was so friendly and I love that I never know what I am going to find, I always bring the books back when I am finished with them.”

Dave & Daphne Volunteers

Dave & Daphne Volunteers

Your centre is now fully sustainable – book donations from visitors keep stock levels up. Visitors often donate a carrier bag of books – and the bag then gets reused as well.

Where else do the book donations you receive come from?

We have a good relationship now with charity shops in the area. They donate books to us that they can’t sell. Local fetes do the same.  All the unsold or unwanted books that had no where to go except landfill can now come here to continue their life. There’s also someone who does house clearances and often brings us books from those. And there was a lady who came to us who had just had a bring & buy sale at her WI (Women’s Institute). She told us she knew instantly where to bring the books they couldn’t sell. We have a ‘Look for me, keep for me’ book, where we write down their requests so that when the type of book is donated to us we know immediately if someone is interested in it, and then we give them a call to let them know.

Knitting circle Upminster

Knitting circle Upminster

Does your BFF centre have any group’s meetings or special events? Could the general public get any more involved?

We have a weekly knitting circle (this afternoon, every Wednesday). Visitors sometimes come in to ask the regular ladies for a bit of help with their knitting. The rest of the time they spend knitting – with wool donated to the centre – making blankets for the premature baby units of the local hospitals, and hats and scarves for the local clothing guild, which distribute garments to people in need and The Mission to Seafarers charity. Only two of the four ladies here today knew each other before they started coming here. They enjoy the natter just as much as the knitting. They also hold the occasional coffee morning. Daphne would like to be able to start up a storytelling event for the children.

Books and browsers at Books for Free Upminster

Books and browsers at Books for Free Upminster

Volunteers at Upminster Books for Free

Volunteers at Upminster Books for Free

Tell us about your team of volunteers…

Some are what I call our converted customers, basically people who I recognise as book nuts, like myself, because I will have noticed them browsing for periods of an hour or more at a time. They might as well help us by doing a three hour shift – they’re here that long anyway! And we have one volunteer who simply comes to the centre to take away our rubbish for us.

How do they work well together? Do you have any stories?

Two of our team are recently widowed ladies who now volunteer together on Sundays – They live on the same street but before they volunteered at Books for Free they didn’t know each other!

Books donated to the centre

Books donated to the centre

It’s very laidback here, and I don’t like ever having to throw visitors out because it’s time to close [The door does indeed finally close on the day we visit around twenty minutes or so after three o’clock, only once the final visitor of the day has chosen what they want to take] Last week we [Daphne, and recently retired engineer Dave} helped pass the time by reading up about world history and geography – discovering the names of new countries in the world and how they came into existence.

We have a retired solicitor among our team. He looks after any law books we get in and offers free legal advice to any visitors who ask.

Dave tells us he likes Books for Free because he felt bored at home since retiring in February, and volunteering is social – he enjoys meeting different people, listening to their stories, and making new friends.

Stories shared with all generations

Stories shared with all generations

Does your centre work alongside any particular organisation, and what does the relationship do for your centre?

Local authorities have asked us to place a couple of people with learning difficulties – they’re a part of our team of volunteers.  We have a community noticeboard by the door, and as an example of some of the help that visitors provide to the centre, there’s one who regularly brings us dog food which we then pass on to a local charity which cares for retired greyhounds. If there are any magazines for older people that the visitors don’t take, we send them to homes for the elderly rather than recycle them because they have difficulty holding weighty books but still enjoy having something to read. Any books we think won’t be of any interest to our visitors we tear out the pages and donate to schools for the children to make papier mache.

Do you have a favourite type of book yourself?

I like science fiction (Julian May, Iain Banks), thrillers and murder mysteries. We get to know what types of books our regular visitors enjoy.

Interested in Books for Free? Want to get involved?

You can volunteer, visit or donate books at any of our 38 centres across the U.K

If you would like to find a centre near you please visit our website: www.healthyplanet.org/booksforfree

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Be the start – campaign for May 2013

May 2013 be the start of more vibrant communities

May 2013 be the start of more vibrant communities

We’re proud to be part of a nationwide campaign by Start UK called #bethestart which is featuring us on the 13th of May around our #Booksforfree project encouraging sustainability in the community.

If you would like to find out more please visit http://www.bethestart.org/

Be the Start of rescuing books from going to waste.  As part of their goal to rescue books from going to waste, Healthy Planet is asking for pledges from the public to rescue books. This may be by donating books, organising a book swap at your school or office, or share books amongst friends. Conversation is taking place on twitter, #bethestart and @healthy_planet

We're part of start

We’re part of start

Advertisements

Stallholders at Healthy Planet’s Stuff for Free event

We’re are proud to be working in partnership with several organisations to create a small fair at our Leytonstone event on Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of November 2012. www.healthyplanet.org/stuffforfree

Stuff for free stallholders


(Sat & Sun)

Community RePaint

Stored in homes and garages across the UK, there is approximately 50 million litres of unused, reusable paint – enough to fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools! The Community Repaint scheme collects this leftover paint from homes and businesses. The paint is then redistributed to individuals, families and communities to improve the wellbeing of people and the appearance of communities across the UK. http://www.frponline.org.uk/

(Sat only)

Petit Miracles

Petit miracles are a registered charity who works with people who have experienced homelessness and long term unemployment, and with vulnerable women. The charity is a provider of accredited interior design training, DIY workshops and upcycling courses, to help participants improve their living environment, build confidence and provide opportunities for further training and employment. www.petitmiracles.org.uk

(Sat only) Green Peas

Green Peas provides classes for children aged 15 months – 4 years, where children can get involved in messy and creative play with natural objects. The classes are a unique opportunity for children to actively engage with nature in an urban environment, allowing them to create art out of ordinary objects like leaves and acorns which can boost children’s creativity and problem solving skills. www.greenpeasevents.co.uk

(Sat only)

Juliet Landau-Pope

Juliet Landau-Pope is a certified coach and professional de-clutterer who aims to ‘liberate your space, your schedule and your story’, through decluttering your home. The service empowers you to decide what to reduce, reuse, recycle, donate or discard, and find positive ways to part from items you no longer need. www.jlpcoach.com | Twitter: @jlpcoach

 

(Sat & Sun)

Love Food Hate Waste

Love Food Hate Waste is an NFP organisation which works with community organisations, UK businesses, trade bodies and local authorities to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and help us take action. Love Food Hate Waste also provides practical information to homeowners on how to reduce the amount of household waste through food shopping and recipe ideas, portion size planning and how to maximise the shelf life of your shopping. http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

 (Sun only)

DHL Envirosolutions

DHL Envirosolutions is one of the largest collectors of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), and helps to promote recycling within the local community. http://www.dhl.co.uk/en/logistics/supply_chain_solutions/

(Sun only)

 

EcoACTIVE

EcoACTIVE is an environmental education charity who, through eye-opening experiences, helps explore the complex issues of sustainability and develop the knowledge of both children and adults in schools and the wide community. Projects include: waste and recycling, composting, energy and climate change, and water conservation.  http://ecoactive.org.uk/

Are we nearly there yet?

Reading the recent news about the Arctic ice, waves of fear swept through many an eco-conscious person. Each year we get told the situation is urgent and as campaigners there is a concern that people will suffer from crisis fatigue. We are repeatedly told of the urgency of the problem you can feel numb, and further stick your head into the sand.

For campaigners this is a disaster as we need to keep people taking those little steps to get to those big changes we need.

So what can be done? Well obviously there are a number of simple things that people can do. A quick web search will give you no end of options. Change your lightbulbs, drive less and eat less meet.

What interests me is the formation of habits and the promotion of our ideal world. Making environmental choices a habit will certainly be one of those tools needed to affect positive change. Connected with that is the focus needed on the positive. Talking about disaster and XXX and may move someone to action but for many it will shock them into inaction. What is important is to talk about all the benefits that can be gained if we make the change. Cleaner, better public transport, more jobs, better quality, able to heat your home in the winter and much more.

There are great examples of where this is already working, recycling is one. We have been conditioned to put separate waste outside our homes for collection. Over the years this action has become so normalised that even the most ardent climate change skeptic gas guzzling drives are starting to wash out their plastic bottles each week. Saying you don’t recycle gains the same expression as someone who doesn’t wear a seat belt. If people in the green movement could utilise this sort of habit forming then it will make the job a whole lot easier.

A better world is possible. We have small pockets of society which have got it right but much more is needed from the citizens of the world.

Meat Free Monday

Meat Free Monday

We need to make things easier and more attractive. It’s a simple message that has been said before but we forget it at our peril.

Top 5 things you can do:

  1. Eat less meat – try meat free Mondays
    http://www.meatfreemondays.co.uk/
  2. Change your lightbulbs to energy saving bulbs
    http://www.ecogiggle.com/information/energy-saving-light-bulbs.html
  3. Drive less and bike / walk more
    http://www.sustrans.org.uk/what-we-do/national-cycle-network http://www.walk4life.info/
  4. Repair, reuse & recycle things as much as possible
    http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/rrr.html
  5. When you do need to buy something new – choose locally sourced foods & eco versions – particularly appliances
    http://www.redtractor.org.uk/Behind-the-Logo
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_energy_lab

You can also get involved in Books for Free http://www.healthyplanet.org/booksforfree & Stuff for Free http://www.healthyplanet.org/stuffforfree

More ideas here: http://lilmyssdoodlez.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/simple-eco-tips.html

About our guest blogger: Adam Roxby

Adam is a student nurse, environmental campaigner, Karate Black belt and blogger. Adam’s blog can be found here: http://optical-minefield.co.uk/

Top 5 discussions at the Friends of the Earth 2012 Conference

Caroline Lucas

This weekend I attended the FoE 2012 Conference to learn more about the campaigns and actions FoE are undertaking, as well as to listen to some interesting discussions on environmental issues. Here at Healthy Planet we work hard to help grassroots conservation projects achieve their aims through the support of the Healthy Planet Conservation Community. It was interesting to see how a much larger and long running environmental Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) works out its priorities!

Polly Higgins

Polly Higgins

Businesses and Ecological Systems

1.)  @PollyHiggins, Campaigning Lawyer, discussed innovative approaches to social change. There is currently a push towards the evaluation of nature to encourage businesses to appreciate ecological systems. Referred to as ecosystem services, these are provided for free by nature including water, air purification, timber and nutrient cycling. Polly argued that if you evaluate nature then it creates an ownership and will only encourage the current problems. She believes we need a radical shift in our attitude towards ecosystems and wildlife and the only way to change the relationship between business and the environment is through a legal and moral responsibility.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

Unbalanced society and Government

2.) @CarolineLucas , the first Green party leader, gave a very passionate response to the question ‘Do government or people bring about change?’ Lucas made it clear that the current relationship between government and the citizens is unbalanced.  The governments frustrating and slow response to environmental policy is weak due to the lack of pressure from the citizens, while the citizens expect the government to take action on urgent environmental issues for them. A vicious circle indeed!

Group Cooperation

3.)  @Andy2Atkins , Exec. Director of FoE, joined in on the ‘Who brings about change?’ discussions. Atkins believed it is vital that all groups cooperate including large and small NGO’s, grassroot activists and local groups to focus their strategies allowing for less mixed messaging and more impact.

vivienne westwood

vivienne westwood

Environmental Ceiling

4.) @KateRaworth , Senior Researcher at Oxfam, gave a fantastically engaging talk on the partnerships that social and environmental organisations must make.  As she described there are planetary and social boundaries, living beneath the environmental ceiling where we no longer put excessive stresses on the environment but also providing a social foundation for every human on the planet. So how can this be done? It would take a lot of change but little resources, for example:

  • To meet the calorie needs of the 13% of the world’s population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply
  •  Bringing electricity to the 19% of people who currently lack it could be achieved with less than a 1% increase in global CO2 emissions
  • Ending income poverty for the 21% of people who live on less than $1.25 a day would require just 0.2% of global income.

Geo-engineering

5.)    Professor Richard Owen, University of Exeter, discussed the much debated topic, geo-engineering. Described as ‘the deliberate intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order to moderate global warming’. There was a lot of interest from the audience and as much support as concerns for the concept of climate engineering. Owen talked of the methods available including releasing sulphate particles 20km into the atmosphere to reflect the solar glare that increases the warming of the planet. As bizarre and alien sounded, this does happen naturally near volcanos, researchers have found after an eruption the atmospheric temperature lowers by half a degree. Owen hopes the public awareness and interest in geo-engineering grows and is developed to have positive results for the conservation of our planet.

To read more about Raworths ‘Why we need planetary and social boundaries’

Log on to: http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/blog/2012/02/can-we-live-inside-the-doughnut-planetary-and-social-boundaries

Friends of the Earth conference webpage:  http://www.foe.co.uk/conference

Twitter hashtag: #foeconf

All photos from http://www.facebook.com/wwwfoecouk

Healthy Planet is launching the Conservation Community

We will be bringing together people who care about the planet in our new social network which will take over our former product “Adopt a plot” and  allow you to help conservation parks & activities across the planet in very practical and tangible ways. Launch date set for November 1st 2012! Download the PDF for details: Conservation community launch

To receive information about this and other news please sign up to our quarterly newsletter

Written by Olivia Couchman, Conservation Coordinator at Healthy Planet

Upcycling

Lamps made of wine bottlesThere is a revolution going on in my dustbin. My waste does not wish to be waste and protests when I try to insist that the end of its life has come and it’s time to head for burial in landfill.

‘See reason’, I say to the empty wine bottles I have after the weekend. ‘What could I use you for I’m never going to fit a vineyard on my balcony?’

The bottles insist they are multi-skilled artists; more than one string to their bow. I acknowledge this but point out that I already have more bistro style candle holders than I have window sills to have wax melt over.

Hangers made from bicycle wheelsThe bottles start wondering how much more I need to drink before my mind opens and how many more empty bottles there would be to save from landfill at the end of this process.

The bottles wish me to see their potential so take me to a trendy bar where all the lamp shades are made of empty wine bottles.

‘It’s called upcycling’, the bottles tell me. ‘We can be reincarnated in a manner which recognises our good karma, for we are bottles whose wine has eased your sorrows and we deserve to be something more in our next life’.

Handbag made of Wellington boots‘All of you?’ I only need so much lighting and had not planned to live in a wine bar themed flat. Wishing for an atmosphere of sobriety for at least some of the hours of each day. ‘Besides’, I point out, ‘I have no ability to use a craft knife?’

‘You’re looking at this issue back to front’, the bottles tell me. ‘What you need to do is create demand for upcyled products’.

Bird feeder made from a tea cupBut I spend too much time hungover to wish to live in a home where I might ever be tempted to pour myself a glass of light bulb.

Where will it end? Riding to work on a coat hanger, fishing for a credit card in a wellington boot as I pay for groceries? Someone save me from my waste.

Luckily for people who can use a craft knife Healthy Planet has a host of fun ways to upcycle with step by step picture guides on how to turn your waste into things you want. See Pinterest

Here are a couple of my favourites. I quite see why it makes sense to be able to find one’s hairdryer without the flex being caught around something else and enjoy a moderate amount of Hairdryer stored in a magazine stand screwed to the inside of a cupboard door.nature on the balcony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben and Jerry’s loves Ruby Jenny

No, Ruby Jenny is not a new flavour of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream but a fellow food producer that the ice-cream entrepreneurs have taken to their hearts.

Jenny Dawson with trays of fruit and vegetablesJenny Dawson’s business Rubies in the Rubble, which turns discarded fruit and vegetables into delicious chutneys and jams, has just won Ben and Jerry’s Europe-wide social enterprise competition.

Jenny will receive £10,000 and six months mentoring from the social enterprise network Ashoka.

Waste

Jenny Dawson set up Rubies in the Rubble when she heard about the freegan movement, which encourages people to rescue food from skips.

Over seven tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK costing the economy £12bn.

Jenny intervenes higher up the food chain saving food before it is thrown away.

She opened her kitchen in New Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market; so she is on hand to buy the food wholesalers cannot sell to consumer outlets.  This unsold food would otherwise be discarded.

Rescued Rubies

Food saving schemes have a reputation for poor quality – scavenging in skips is hardly glamorous.

Jenny’s brand is about quality.  She uses the word ‘rubble’ to draw attention to food wastage.

Jenny buys good food which can be turned into jams and chutneys destined for high end outlets.

Jenny’s jams and chutneys are currently sold at Borough Market.  Ben and Jerry’s are approaching Waitrose.

Glittering in the Darkness

Jenny believes that social enterprises are best placed to offer sustainable social change.

She says her business model could be replicated in other countries.

Ben and Jerry’s have already taken her to Uganda, where competition finalists mentored locals.

Jenny mentored Maureen, who started a business making fuel from wasted food.

Back at home Jenny employs two people, both disadvantaged women.  As Jenny expands she wants to hire more disadvantaged women.

Jenny plans to expand:

  • Firstly into soups,
  • but also by opening branches in – Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow.

Healthy Planet host Rubies in the Rubble at our offices in London so they have a rent-free space while they grow.

More

rubiesintherubble.com

www.benjerry.co.uk

Buy Jenny’s Jam at Borough Market – www.boroughmarket.org.uk

Read Waste by Tristram Stuart, the book that inspired Jenny –  www.tristramstuart.co.uk 

Jenny is being mentored by Ashoka – www.ashoka.org

A labyrinth of a library

Books waiting to be added to the maze

Books waiting to be added to the maze

If you were to stop by Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall this past weekend, you would have observed quite a strange sight—over 250,000 books in boxes, eclectic piles, orderly stacks, or even just strewn across the floor. Over the next 4 days, though, the books were arranged into something much more recognizable (though perhaps not at all less bewildering)—walls.

The project is called aMAZEme, and indeed, the art display is essentially a giant maze made out of second hand books, as part of a larger poetic celebration of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The maze (or, more accurately, labyrinth) is to be formed in the shape of Borges’ fingerprint and is intended to confront the audience with “new textures, images, and emotions… [to] stimulate their curiosity, knowledge, and creativity.” The books used are all secondhand donations from charities and publishing houses throughout the UK, which is why Healthy Planet got involved in the project and became a supporting partner.

Go team!

Go team! My badge

All of the above was enough to interest me in volunteering for aMAZEme, so last Friday I found myself at the Royal Festival Hall ready to help the cause. Along with the other volunteers, I helped sort books into hardcover piles and paperback piles, and then began stacking these books strategically in order to form the walls of the maze. Although progress seemed slow that early on in the project, these thousands of books now tower up to 3 meters high.

What I find most moving about this project is how differently each member of the audience will perceive or experience it. Children and adults alike will enjoy meandering through the maze of books, whether or not they actually have a particular love of reading (but hopefully they do!). The celebration of Jorge Borges delivers a more profound implication for those who have an affinity for this famous writer or for Argentine literature in general.

Leaf found in book from 1908!

Leaf found in book from 1908!

Environmentalists might, like Healthy Planet, appreciate the fun and unique way books have been reused in the construction. Art lovers will surely comprehend some deeper meaning behind it than I was able to pick up, and lovers of mythology will have a field day if the Minotaur head that I saw on the sidelines makes any appearance. Personally, as a lover of reading, I was constantly distracted by the books themselves. I even came across a small hymnal gifted to someone in 1908, which had a remarkably preserved pressed leaf inside. See the rest of my photos on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/healthyplanetorg/sets/72157630819923620/

Who knows what else is hiding within those walls? If you get the chance, check out the display at the Royal Festival Hall in Southbank Centre!

To learn more about the aMAZEme project, visit their event website at http://festival.london2012.com/events/9000965121.

Ps: Here’s what the maze looked like when it was finished!

Completed maze

Completed maze

Happy Earth Day!

Dear Healthy Planeteers,

The day we have been waiting for since 23 April 2009 is finally here and Healthy Planet wants to be the first to wish you a Happy Earth Day!

Being a conservation charity means more than just counting down to Earth Day and writing celebratory blogs. It means encouraging people to make greener decisions, whether that is giving a plot of land instead of a tradition present or turning off the water when brushing you teeth. It also means ensuring a healthy future, which we are doing by distributing Free Earth Day teaching resources to UK primary schools.

The lessons are not only for Earth Day or Earth Week. We hope that teachers will continue to use these year round because our lesson plans meet national curriculum guidelines while still being fun, interactive and teaching a perennial lesson.

Celebrating by saving our world,

Healthy Planet

What are you doing tomorrow?

Tomorrow, 22nd April, is Earth Day! On this day individuals and businesses all over the world will be especially inspired to make a global difference through a few small changes to their daily plans. Below is a list of small changes we can all make in our daily regime. With a little effort from everyone these small actions will give the health and environment of our future planet better chance.

  • Turn it off: switching off lights and plug sockets at home before leaving for work will reduce unnecessary carbon emissions (and electricity bills!).
  • Leave the car keys at home: if and when possible, cycling or taking public transport into work will lessen congestion and traffic pollution.
  • Cut down on cups of tea: we know it’s difficult but reducing the amount of times the kettle is boiled throughout the day and making sure that no more water is boiled than is actually needed will guarantee a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Think before you print! Where a printout is absolutely needed, print on both sides of the paper and use recycled paper to reduce the amount of deforestation.
  • Recycle old ink cartridges: set up a collection box by the printer and claim £3 per cartridge by recycling them with an organisation like JetTec, www.jettec.com/recycling.asp 
  • Buy a veggie lunch: abstain from a meat included lunch and refill yesterday’s water bottle with tap water. The most serious environmental problems of our time are all directly linked to eating meat. According to goveg.com eating 1 lb. Of meat emits the same amount of green house gasses as driving an SUV 40miles!
  • And finally! After a hard day’s work plant a tree in the garden and enjoy the rest of the year’s sun under its growing canopy.

And here are some things you can do with Healthy Planet to make an impact:

  • Visit www.healthyplanet.valuerecycling.com to find out how to recycle your old phone and claim back money.
  • If you’re planning to spring clean your home get together with some friends and organise a group car boot sale. Email us on property@healthyplanet.org to find a free venue.
  • With the extra cash you’ve made on your car boot sale and from recycling your phone and used cartridges why not celebrate by buying a plot of land anywhere in the world. Log on to www.healthyplanet.org/Adopt/ to find out how.
  • Sign the Earth Day 2010 Climate Declaration and find Earth Day events and activities in your area where ever you are in the world on http://www.earthday.org/
  • Whether you’re an individual, a business, a school, a landlord or a shopper you’ll find many tips and information on Green Grants and Environmental Education on www.healthyplanet.org/Work/, which will help both you and the future of our planet.