Éire was the first country to introduce a plastic bag fee – ‘PlasTax’ – in 2002. Its primary purpose was to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bags by influencing consumer behaviour and its effect was immediate, their use plummeting by 90% overnight! The average Irish person used an estimated 328 bags each year, but now they are down to 21.
It took a decade to catch up in the North, where the carrier bag levy was first introduced in April 2013. At first, the levy applied to single use carrier bags, but since January 2015, the 5p levy now applies to all new carrier bags with a retail price below 20p, whether they are single use or reusable and regardless of the material they are made from.
Wales introduced a 5p charge in 2011 and Scotland followed suit just one year ago, in October 2014. Now, finally, England is making the big supermarkets charge 5p for carrier bags. However, unlike the straightforward schemes in Wales and the Irish Republic, small businesses are exempt, so some of us will no doubt continue to accumulate those utilitarian blue ones and the dinky black ones that carry the beers home from the nearest ‘convenience’ store.
Still, to extrapolate the results from N.Ireland and Scotland, where plastic bag usage dropped by 80%, we are going to be seeing a lot less ‘London bunting,’ as Danny Baker used to refer to bags blown into trees. In some parts of Wales, allegedly, the number of bags being used has been reduced by 96% and so – according to some – has the number of shopping baskets available at larger supermarkets!
What this means for Fareshares is that people may be less willing to donate carrier bags; indeed, they will have fewer of the bloomin’ things lying around. This is a Good Thing, but it may be too much to hope that those Fareshares users who persist in giving us useless bits of old food packaging, or doing their recycling by proxy, might desist. Seriously. We regularly complain about people dumping their rubbish on us, yet on it goes…
Never mind the PlasTax, Fareshares is proud to announce two radical initiatives:
Branded tote bags & a DIY bag-making workshop!
Fareshares fine & sturdy tote bags, crafted from canvas and emblazoned with our logo, shall be available soon, very soon. Look, it’s in the newsletter now, so before Cristmas, anyway. Their cost to you, dear shopper, shall be £3.50 and funds raised used to plug our trading deficit, repair the building and, perhaps, supply paper bags for folks to weigh stuff into…
What’s more, three Faresharees volunteers are pledged to organisize an exciting bag-making workshop, one Saturday lunch time early in December. See our Facebook page for details, as they develop. There are also plans for a pickling workshop, watch this space.
#howedoit – Nākd Bars, 75p each
Standing behind Fareshares’ counter, one does hear some dark rumours, but the one about the people behind Nākd having sold out and incorporated GMOs into their hitherto organic, gluten-free wholefood bars never had the ring of truth. If you have, virtually single-handedly, created a new category within the retail snack market – as Californian-born, Oxfordshire-based brothers, Jamie and Greg Combs, have since they started Natural Balance Foods in 2005 – why would you compromise your USP?
In fact, what happened was that they got Nākd Bars into supermarkets and sales grew by over 70%, from £7.5m to £13.2m, in the year ending 31.03.14. Having made it so far in 10 years, some early Natural Balance Foods shareholders chose to retire and, therefore, the company hired specialist advisers to seek new investors to take its brands to the next level. They attracted interest from bidders including Burtons Biscuits (maker of Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels), Kelloggs, and Hain Celestial (owner of New Covent Garden & Linda McCartney).
In the end, though, Natural Balance sold 67% of its stock for £60 million to Lotus Bakeries, the Belgian company that makes those frightfully more-ish caramelised biscuits. A statement said both parties see the transaction as long term and “there is a clear agreement that the DNA of the brands will be kept unchanged… The Natural Balance Foods mission steadfastly remains to pioneer and champion the Wholefood Revolution around the globe and the team continues to be passionately committed to the business.” Fat Gay Vegan, for one, was chuffed.
At Fareshares, we stock a changing selection of Nākd Bars that we sell for 75p each, but we tend to stay with the classic varieties: Cashew Cookie; Berry Delight; Ginger Bread Bar. Some folks, however, order their Nākd Bars by the box of 18, paying only a 10% surcharge over the wholesale price, which means they can try the more unusual flavours, like Cocoa & Orange; Coffee Mocha or the new Bakewell Tart.
Don’t forget about new Nākd Nibbles, either! Made from raw fruits and nuts lovingly ‘smooshed’ together in sweet shop favourite flavours, with no added sugars or syrups, these nibbles are also wheat, dairy and gluten free. With a soft, chewy texture they fill you up till your next meal and most count towards 1 of your 5 a day too. With trick or treat season approaching, you might want to lay in a supply.
Fareshares is entirely run by volunteers, who are always welcome and needed.
Shiftworkers work two hour shifts; three of those on Thursdays, when we most need help on the closing shift, 6-8pm. If you’ve turned up to Fareshares after 7pm one Thursday recently and found the shop shut, it’s because we really need you to volunteer as a shiftworker! If not on Thursdays, then perhaps you can join the Wednesday afternoon crew who unpack and display our weekly deliveries?
If you can’t commit to a regular shift in the shop, perhaps there’s another way in which you can help Fareshares, by contributing a more specialised skill? For example, we have put out a call in the past and are still waiting to hear from a Refrigeration Engineer who is qualified to service our Graf commercial ‘fridge.
Now, there are several carpentry jobs that we need someone with the skills and tools to do for the Collective:
1. Remake the disabled access ramp so it’s not so steep.
2. Construct shelving under the window, behind the counter, for customer orders.
3. Construct a shelving unit to display Zaytoun products.
If you think you might be able to take on any one of these tasks, please contact us by e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org – or come into the shop and have a word with the shiftworker. Why not join us for a late Sunday lunch (see below) where you can meet some of us?
November 15 Meeting – Sunday Lunch @ Pullens Centre
When the Pullens Centre is free on the 15th, Fareshares has held it monthly meetings there, preceded by a vegan potluck meal, to which all who might want to be and those who used to be as well, as those who are actively involved with running Fareshares are warmly invited.
Sunday the 15th November is our final get together of 2015 and you are welcome to join us, upstairs at 184 Crampton Street, where a fabulous nut roast shall be served in all its glory, accompanied by lashings of with onion gravy & roasties at 3pm. Please bring salads & puddings.
The door will be open from midday, if you’d care to peel spuds or help get set up. Please let us know if you’re coming, if possible, so we have an idea of numbers, but come anyway. Join the event via Facebook, or by e-mail to email@example.com. Or just turn up.
Fareshares’ monthly meeting will start at 4pm. All prospective and past members of Fareshares are welcome to eat with us, but only current members of the collective may participate in its business meeting.
Bio-D: return your empties!
One of the least popular chores among Fareshares volunteers is refilling the recycled washing up and laundry liquid bottles – we lack one of these – but that isn’t currently an issue, because we haven’t got any empty laundry liquid bottles to refill! By retuning your empty bottles, you save the environment (see plastic bags, above) AND money, because we buy 15L drums, which works out cheaper (currently, £3.80/L).
As you probably do not need to be reminded, domestic pollution causes more damage to the environment than industrial pollution. At least, that was the state of play back in 1980, when A.M.Gower produced ‘Water Quality in Catchment Ecosystems’, which The Bio-D Company continues to quote on its web site page devoted to ‘Our Philosophy‘. Over the intervening 35 years, British industry has shut up shop and environmental awareness has increased exponentially, but still.
Michael Barwell, the man who started Bio-D in 1988, knows all about the social trends of the past decades. From Hull, he used to clean ships before realising that household cleaning products contained the same petrochemicals, phosphates, preservatives, enzymes and synthetic perfumes as the stuff he wore industrial protective clothing and a respirator to use in his job. ‘We’re proud of our funky (recycled and recyclable) packaging,’ say Bio-D, ‘but overall it’s about what’s NOT on the inside that counts!’
Fareshares on Facebook
Fareshares Facebook page is the place to keep up with the day-to-day goings on within our collective and key suppliers, such as Suma and Infinity, and smaller suppliers such as Zaytoun and BioD. We don’t (often) post mawkish animal-related stuff, give or take the odd skipping rhino, but we do seasonally appropriate recipes. Fareshares currently boasts 14 reviews and a perfect score of five stars on Facebook, but we could score more, maybe, if you were to like and rate us too.