A village with no rubbish

February 27, 2008 at 10:56 am

More and more of us are finding it hard to imagine what life was like before we recycled our rubbish. However, one staggering little village nestled in the beautiful valleys of South Wales is going one better than everyone else and has recently told the world that they plan to be the first "zero waste" community in Wales.

St Arvans is a few miles down the road from Chepstow in Gwent and has been boasting very impressive recycling initiatives and targets over the years. Its residents already recycle around 77% of all of their household waste. There are weekly kerbside collections for all, which take paper, cans, glass, foil, plastics, textiles, tetrapak cartons, green waste and food. On top of this, the local recycling site also pops around again during the week to see if anything else needs to be picked up. In one week, roughly half of the 261 homes in the village didn’t produce any rubbish whatsoever. They are a pioneering community, but hold on, they haven’t stopped there.

They wanted to do better and wanted to become the benchmark for the rest of Wales and the UK. Local residents turned out in force last year to regular meetings and 95% of the village signed a new "Zero Waste Pledge". Officially launched in June 2007, the principle idea comes more from what the buyer does before they even buy something as opposed to what they will do with it once they are finished. Although they will still recycle as much as ever, the new "zero scheme" will make all residents buy only products that can be either reused, repaired or recycled after use.

A mother of five, Lou Summers, has been positive and vocal about the scheme. At the moment supporters have signed a participation pledge for a minimum of three years. Mrs Summers said, "It’s something I believe in. It is going to teach the children that they need to recycle and reuse. The benefit is your peace of mind. There is not a lot left in our bin, we don’t even fill one black bag a week."

We might all think we have heard the facts and figures a hundred times about why we should make recycling our top priority in all of our homes. The Local Government Association has told us time and time again that over 26.8 million tonnes of rubbish is dumped on a landfill every year. If you do the sums then you’ll find out that’s half a tonne per year each. We’re being embarrassed by the rest of Europe and now we’re being embarrassed by the likes of the people at St Arvans. It’s a good job they are showing the rest of us how it’s done.

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