One of our top volunteers, Fran Romberg, talks to Melanie Rees of the Green Centre.
Since you last spoke with BPEC, how have your projects developed and do you have any new ones?
Our Reduce / Re-Use / Recycle Drop in on Tuesdays and Thursdays continues to be our core work; it is very well supported and the amount of donations we receive has increased year on year. We continue to process donations into 3 categories; re-use, charity and recycling. Our 2nd hand market goes from strength to strength and we have introduced special deals on every Thursday of the month to encourage people to buy 2nd hand. We now support 13 charities through our re-use scheme and this is one of the projects we are most proud of. We are constantly looking for new opportunities to recycle and now recycle a wider range of items than ever. We have just been voted in the top 50 Recycling websites in the UK. Our monthly Rag N’ Bone continues to be as popular as ever and Mary and Buddy the horse are in their 4th season with us. It is AMAZING to see a horse trekking around East Brighton and even more AMAZING to see the children’s faces when they meet Buddy and hear the stories of residents who remember back in the day when the Rag N Bone was a weekly occurrence.
The Mile of Potatoes food growing project grows each year and while we have not managed to grow a mile of potatoes in any one year we will continue to nurture this project every year. The La Colosa Gold Mine Campaign has been a work in progress since 2011, slowly unfolding and our decision, 2 years ago, to develop the on-line photo petition into an exhibition culminated in the opening of our permanent exhibition, on site, at our Open Day this year, on July 25th. It has been a long and emotional journey and so many wonderful people have helped make it happen. We are delighted that we have such a strong connection with our friends in Colombia and in turn that they feel supported by us.
The BIG new project we have begun is the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth. Following in the footsteps of the Bolivian Government who passed a Law in 2012 giving Rights to Mother Earth, we are campaigning for a similar law in this country. Unlike Bolivia who’s approach is a top down movement, we decided after a year attempting to engage with the UK Government that we are pursuing a bottom up approach. We have chosen one of the Laws and are encouraging people to adopt that on a personal level. Law number 3 is the Right to clean water and we are about to launch this campaign in Brighton & Hove through our Facebook page and a yarn bombing exercise.
Do you think that there is progress being made in terms of waste and recycling in Brighton and Hove?
Yes I do think there is progress being made in terms of waste & recycling in Brighton & Hove. I know from our point of view, the sheer quantities of waste and recycling we process. I know from my relationship with Cat of Freegle that the sheer volume of stuff being diverted from landfill is increasing year on year. I met with Jan Jonker from the Council 2 weeks ago to discuss the latest developments in the Council and I am very encouraged by their plans. I think it is unfortunate that the Green Council inherited a problem related to inequalities in the pay scheme for female workers and particular positions and that their efforts to sort this out, with a deadline imposed, led to strikes in the waste and recycling teams. This unfortunately gave an inaccurate view of what is actually happening with waste & recycling. The data from the Green Centre, Magpie, Shabitat and Freegle are not included in the Council figures and I believe this would also paint a very different picture of how well the city is doing.
How can others get involved to support the work at the Green Centre?
People can get involved in many ways;
visiting the centre and re-using / recycling with us
visiting the centre to find out what we do