‘It will show our failure’: Green councillor’s campaign to re-use items council refuses to recycle

PUBLISHED: 14:57 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:02 12 September 2019

Green Party councillors and a

Green Party councillors and a "merry band of volunteers" collecting waste and unwanted items. Photo: Contributed


A Green Party councillor is pushing for innovative ways to rethink our relationship with plastic by recycling items normally thrown to waste.

The new methods include clothes swaps to cut down on fast fashion, eco-bricks to make furniture from plastic waste and a 'Terracycle' campaign which sees items normally turned down for recycling given a new use.

In November last year, Caroline Stopping, a Green councillor from Beccles on East Suffolk Council, quit the Conservative Party after saying she more closely aligned with the Green Party's politics.

Since then, Mrs Topping has been working with councillors Graham Elliott and Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw and "a band of merry volunteers" to increase the amount of waste we recycle.

She said: "We have successfully increased our Terracycle event to take more streams of packaging for recycling, those items that our local council can not take in our blue bins.

"The greatest packaging stream we receive are crisp packets - we collect one wheelie bin of these every month. Others include toothpaste tubes and beauty packaging.

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"We're not about having a witch hunt on plastic, as reusable plastic is good. But it's about refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle."

At the same time as launching the Terracycle campaign, Mrs Topping began creating 'Ecobricks', made from plastic bottles and single use packaging such as polystyrene in order to make bricks that can be used to build seats.

She will be building a bench with the recycled waste in the centre of Beccles.

She said: "The bench will be a sign of failure. The whole point is we should never complete an eco-brick, we should refine our shopping habits.

"We will have a sign to say we have failed if this bench is made."

Mrs Topping is also focusing on reducing the trend towards new clothes and fast fashion and is encouraging people to leave and swap any pre-loved items they have on Saturday, September 14 at Blyburgate Hall from 10am to 2pm.

She said: "You literally just swap your clothes. If you're as old as I am you'll remember the Noel Edmond's multicoloured swap shop on TV, its just like that."

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