Reflections on COP 26

Whether you’re frustrated at the lack of progress on the climate crisis, or heartened by the amount of focus the summit has received, you may be wondering “What can I do to help?”

Climate change is real and we are one of the local groups here doing practical stuff to both prevent waste and reuse / repurpose anything we get – how can you help and be part of it ?

∘ Rethink ∘ Refuse ∘ Reduce ∘ Reuse ∘ Refurbish ∘ Repair ∘ Repurpose ∘ Recycle ∘

Here are our top suggestions for how you can tread just a little lighter on our wonderful planet:

Rethink – Can we alter our behaviour to consume less?

Many of the criticisms levelled at the discussions at COP26 are that people are busy squabbling over the small details, and ignoring the bigger picture. To make the big changes necessary to protect our planet, we need to rethink entirely whether journeys need to be made at all, does that product even need to be purchased? Maybe think twice about that cheap gadget you were considering. Do you really need it? Can you grow some of your own produce rather than buying it all, or volunteer to help us grow produce that feeds our communities? Buying less, buying better, and travelling/transporting things less is a key but simple change we can all commit to make.

Refuse – Don’t accept the obvious option when there are better alternatives

Sometimes it’s easier to stick with doing what we’ve always done. But changes can be made with minimal impact to our budgets and our lifestyles that help the planet – we can refuse to buy the produce encased in plastic, if the same is available elsewhere with less/no packaging. We can choose not to eat food that is out of season in the UK and instead opt for foods grown locally. If you do still want to enjoy exotic fruits and vegetables, at least if you wait and only get them when you can pick them up from Incredible Surplus, you know you’re not contributing to demand, and you’re actually saving the effort involved in growing and transporting them from going to waste!

Reduce – Even if you don’t completely stop consuming an item – you can cut down!

We know the meat industry is one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and methane. But reducing our consumption of meat doesn’t mean we have to cut it out of our diets completely if we don’t want to. Cutting the amount of meat you consume will still have an impact. And again, if you source your meat from Incredible Surplus, you’re not contributing to the demand, we only give out food that has been deemed ‘surplus’ and would otherwise go to waste.

Reuse – again and again and again

The most eco-friendly item isn’t made of cotton, wood or hemp – it’s the thing you already have! We’ve given out hundreds and hundreds of Morsbags and other reusable bags and love to see it when people bring them back when they next visit!

Volunteers turn waste fabric into handy and sturdy Morsbags!

Refurbish & Repair – keep things working as long as possible

Not everyone has the skills to repair and refurbish broken items, but we’re seeing repair cafés popping up all over the place, where you can get help to fix your broken items and keep them in use – or donate them so they can be fixed and loaned out to others. Maybe your neighbour knows how to sew and could fix some things for you in return for you doing errands for them?

Repurpose – give a new life to things you have no use for

Just because an item can’t be used for its original purpose, doesn’t mean it has to go to waste!

Volunteers at the Sharehouse getting creative with old containers

Containers of all sorts can be reused as planters – old curtains and bedspreads can be turned into Morsbags… and if you have a lot of something and really can’t think what to do with it, Birmingham Scrapstore are experts in turning clean business waste into craft materials!

Recycle – everything else!

We really strive to be a zero waste operation at Incredible Surplus. Everything we are given, we’re helping to save from landfill/incineration. What we can’t save is composted, sent for animal feed, or recycled wherever possible. Thank you for supporting us in every way you can!

Feeding the Composter


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