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Everyone’s talking about it – whether you’re sick, self-isolating as a precaution or just practising social distancing, the chances are you’re feeling the impact of the Coronavirus Covid 19.
So where does Packshare fit in?
Firstly, you’re probably going to get more stuff delivered than usual over the next few weeks and months. We’re lucky to have the infrastructure around us for this, so if you’re stuck at home just hold on to any packaging that can be reused and when you’re able to get out again you can pop it round to local businesses who can reuse it.
Secondly, we’re advising businesses to add a drop off place where people can leave packaging for them without needing to do it face to face. Small businesses are likely to struggle over the coming weeks and months, whether it’s from staff sickness or disrupted supply, so it’s more important than ever to do what we can to support them. Packsharing is a great way to do this, saving them money on packaging whilst reducing the environmental impact of our shopping.
You may well be asking yourself whether your packaging is infected, which is a major concern whether you’re receiving a delivery, mailing out goods or Packsharing your used packaging.
Research is being done into how long the virus can live on surfaces outside the body, we read this article on LiveScience.com which suggests the virus can live for about 24 hours on cardboard and up to 3 days on plastic.
The best advice is still to wash your hands after handling packaging (and at all other times), but this is a useful bit of info if you’re concerned about passing the virus on. If you’ve constructed an elaborate cardboard box fort to pass your self-isolation, maybe wait a day or so before Packsharing!
Need the materials to build a cardboard box fort? Why not head over to www.packshare.org and sign up to receive packaging.
Cambridge Junction was one of the first businesses outside of Cornwall to get in touch with us about using Packshare to donate their waste. We were delighted to get their email, and anxious to help with their issue of raising awareness of Packshare in their local area to make sure they could connect with businesses to donate to.
In Cornwall we’ve started to take it for granted that there will be a nearby business signed up to receive packaging. But as Packshare grows, more and more businesses and individuals around the UK are seeing the benefits of donating their packaging and getting in touch to say that they need to find more businesses in their towns to donate it to!
Cambridge Junction is a multi-venue arts centre with an extremely varied range of performances, workshops and events happening every day. Located in the South West of Cambridge, the centre is housed in stylish modern architecture built in 1990 and expanded in 2005. Between their three venues – Junction 1, 2, and 3 – they host live music, comedy, theatre, dance , club nights, and a variety of other community-focussed activities.
They are a social enterprise, and reinvest over 50% of their profits back into the business and its social mission to promote:
- Arts development and presentation (contemporary theatre and dance)
- Popular culture (live music, comedy and clubs)
- Creative Learning (skills development through the arts)
The venue is many things to many people, incorporating art, community and technology to provide a space which is safe and welcoming for everybody.
“You could come here for a drum & bass club night, to watch a piece of modern circus, or attend computer coding workshop. Cambridge Junction is the venue where art and technology meets life.”
Unsurprisingly they also take their responsibility to the environment seriously, joining 100s of other arts and cultural organisations in April 2019 to officially declare a Climate Emergency, with an ultimate goal of reducing their emissions to net zero by 2025. They’re undergoing large-scale projects to make their practise and buildings more sustainable, but they also see the importance of smaller, faster, more community-focused solutions.
Aiming to reduce the 127,000 disposable glasses they used in their gig venue last year, they bought 5000 re-usable pint cups to replace them going into the future. Their new scheme asks customers to pay £1 deposit for the cup which they can reuse throughout the night and claim back when returned to the bar, or drop the cup in a special reuse bin when they leave to automatically donate the money to charity.
This has the potential for a massive reduction in plastic waste going forward, especially as they’ve coupled it with replacing all plastic water bottles at their bars for cardboard box ‘bottles’.
Additionally all staff have been issued re-usable water bottles while on shift, and the centre held a ‘mug amnesty’ amongst the staff to replace all mugs used in the building (which used to be primarily single use disposable ones) for real ones.
Cambridge Junction also holds a huge variety of community events, recently hosting A Toys Life’s toy-swap initiative Re-play. October’s event was a free to attend toy-swap augmented with debate, conversation and activities for all, and an opportunity to discuss the environmental impact of plastics and other materials used for toys. Re-play will be returning to Cambridge Junction in May.
To find out more about Cambridge Junction’s community events check here for their full schedule: https://www.junction.co.uk/events/our-community
A Toys Life toy swap initiative Re-play returns to Cambridge Junction in May 2020
These links between community and environment are where Packshare fits in. As a large venue, Cambridge Junction receive a wide range of deliveries, from bar and cleaning supplies, publicity materials, through to interesting pieces of theatre sets or specific items for band riders. All of this arrives wrapped in packaging materials which are surplus to requirements as soon as they’re unwrapped.
Cambridge Junction recognise the potential of working with Packshare to donate this perfectly good packaging to businesses in their community, saving everybody money and keeping that packaging from being needlessly recycled or thrown away.
All that stands in their way is that they can’t find enough local businesses to donate it to. They’re so keen to donate it that one member of staff has been posting packaging to a company in the South West!
We want to get more businesses in Cambridge signed up to Packshare to receive free packaging:
- Do you run (or know someone who runs) a small business who buys in mail-order packaging?
- Do you want to save money and integrate your business more in your local community?
- Do you want to build up mutually beneficial business relationships?
- Do you want to do something to significantly reduce the amount of waste packaging in your area?
You can sign up your businesses to receive packaging (wherever you are in the UK) at http://packshare.org
Find out more about the amazing work that Cambridge Junction are doing at: https://www.junction.co.uk/
You can also sign up to the Packshare mailing list to be the first to hear our news.
How much do you really think about other people’s waste? At Packshare, we’ve found once you start thinking about it, it can become all-consuming! Anything you’re buying, someone else is probably trying to figure out how to get rid of.
As a society, we’re starting to realise that there is no ‘away’ to throw something – all that waste ends up somewhere, and something has to be done with is when it gets there. So perhaps the time is right to rethink what we mean by waste.
I recently decided I wanted to mosaic the top of my garden table (I’m really fussy about homewares, and couldn’t find a pre-made table I liked the look of). I started looking in craft stores for packs of mosaic tiles, but the only ones I could find were more like pebbles, which wasn’t the style I was going for – I wanted something that would look at home at Fishbourne Roman Palace. Ok – so I might have had big dreams, but I knew the sort of thing I wanted. Also, the craft store packs were pretty expensive and I knew I’d have to buy multiple packs to cover the whole table.
A number of friends told me to keep an eye on a few local Facebook groups where people list items they no longer want (much like Packshare but for anything and everything). I love these sorts of groups but am pretty impatient so just wanted to get the tiles and get going.
Walking between two large craft stores on an out of town industrial estate, I passed a tile shop. I wondered initially whether they would sell the sort of mosaic tiles I was looking for. When I went in I was shown to the pre-made mosaic tiles. I told the guy in the shop that what I was really after was some broken tiles so that I could make my own mosaic.
He very kindly showed me out the back where they put all the broken and ex-display tiles to be taken away – these items can’t generally be put out with the normal business waste collection so they company pay a great deal to have it taken away.
I raided the broken tile bin and ended up with almost all the tiles I needed. I then bought some sample tiles for the few colours I was missing and hey presto I was ready to go.
I had to smash up the tiles further to make them appropriately mosaic sized, then I sketched and drew out the picture I wanted to make.
Once this was done it was time to start putting the mosaic together. It was much like doing a puzzle, but without knowing whether the piece you’re looking for is even in the box… which was quite therapeutic – if you’re looking for some mindful activities I would highly recommend mosaicing!
Once the tiles were all in place I left it overnight to dry, and the next day started grouting.
Once the grout was mostly dry I cleaned the whole thing up, revealing a mosaic I am absolutely thrilled with, and I know is totally original.
I was left with several boxes of broken tiles, so listed these on a Facebook group and someone came to collect the next day – a lovely lady who had much the same goal as I had had. Again, I think these groups are amazing and help keep items in circulation which a few years ago would have ended up at the dump (and yet people always bemoan the evils of social media!)
Before Packshare I might have felt awkward about asking a business if I could take something that they considered waste. The last year has shown me that there are so many businesses out there who want to do something better with their waste, but don’t know who to pass it on to and don’t have the time to find those people. Packshare aims to help close those loops and other apps like Olio (a food-sharing app) and the various local Facebook groups, we can see lots of people looking to repurpose waste.
We know that curbside collections are more convenient, and finding someone to reuse your waste can be more tricky, but we also know that what happens to our waste is our responsibility. If you haven’t already used Packshare, give it a go! If there are no businesses signed up near you, why not chat to them about whether they’re buying in packaging that could be sourced from their community instead?
Co-founder Roo Pescod talks Packshare, business support from Tevi, and shares their vision for the future of packaging in the UK. Sarah from Falmouth’s wonderful Blink demonstrates exactly what Packshare is about.
We’re extremely excited and proud to share this video and our latest big news with you!
Tevi are an awesome EU Funded organisation in Cornwall, working to elevate Cornish businesses and simultaneously enhance the natural environment. We can’t recommend them enough to any Cornish business, and they’re doing incredible work in Cornwall at the moment. We’ve been working with them for almost a year now and they’re been really helpful introducing us to like-minded businesses, running interesting events, and providing a huge amount of encouragement and support.
As well as funding this video (created by Tom Turner at Paramore Productions) they are kindly funding a massive redevelopment of Packshare which will be released later this year!
We can’t thank everybody involved in this video enough.
If you’d like to keep up to date with what’s going on at Packshare, sign up to our mailing list.
For more information about Tevi and the work that they do, visit https://tevi.co.uk/
I spend so much time explaining to people why we think Packshare is a no-brainer solution for small businesses that sometimes I even bore myself. I have had to apologise to my family and friends over and over for telling them the same information again and again.
Louisa and I talk about it all of the time but I realised that we haven’t actually written it down anywhere public. So as well as being a place to lay down our manifesto, this is a page that I can direct people to when I get a little too boringly passionate about Packshare.
Packshare helps you find local businesses to reuse your mailorder packaging. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for small businesses, and it’s good for our communities.
We started Packshare because Louisa used to work for a great shop called Willow and Stone in Falmouth, Cornwall. They sell iron mongery and other beautiful homewares, they’re independent, and they’re one of the shops that help to give Falmouth it’s unique character. They also have a great website, and they make a lot of their sales online.
Louisa spent a lot of time packing delicate, beautiful, awkwardly shaped things to make sure they would survive the journey through the postal service to their new owners. Willow and Stone get through a lot of packaging, and – because they’re awesome – they’ve always reused as much packaging as they can. They get plenty of well-wrapped deliveries, and all of the bubble wrap and cardboard that they come wrapped in can easily be reused to wrap up out-going deliveries.
Over time Louisa got into the habit of taking any personal packaging into work. Because she knew how useful it was to have different sized boxes, or a few extra packing peanuts, it made her working day easier. Before long all of the staff at Willow and Stone were doing the same.
So why do we need Packshare?
The problems are twofold:
1. Not every business has the capacity or business model to reuse all of the packaging it receives, or receives as much as it needs.
Many shops don’t sell online, or pack outgoing items, so all of the packaging their stock arrives in gets dumped out on the curb for recycling or refuse. All of that packaging gets thrown away because that one business can’t reuse it. You can tell these businesses by walking down your high street in the morning and seeing who’s putting out heaps of cardboard boxes, or bin liners full of bubble wrap.
I’m not judging those businesses, that’s the world we live in, and up until now there hasn’t been a better alternative. But the insanity of it is that there are often businesses on the same street who are buying in exactly the same packaging.
2. Most people don’t know a business they can take their old packaging to.
Because Louisa worked for Willow and Stone she knew exactly what was useful and what wasn’t. No business wants the wrong packaging, but most people in Falmouth probably don’t know the ins and outs of what happens in the Willow and Stone packaging room.
So how are we supposed to know if the packaging that we have would be useful to a business?
Those are the problems that Packshare solves.
If you run a business that buys in packaging, all you need to do is create a profile at www.packshare.org and tell us what packaging you can reuse. You buy bubble wrap? Tick the box that says bubble wrap. That’s all you have to do.
Now when the business next door to you gets a delivery, or the eco-conscious guy who lives upstairs buys some shoes off e-bay, they can search Packshare by their postcode and the type of packaging that they have. Your business will pop up saying that you can use bubble wrap, and they can bring it to you.
The business next door saves money having to have it taken away, and they don’t have it sitting around waiting for collection. They can just walk it around to you. The guy upstairs doesn’t need to fill up his kitchen bin, or stuff it in with his plastic bottles assuming it’ll be recycled.
Everybody gets a warm fuzzy feeling of doing good for the environment, supporting a small local business, and from having the positive social interaction of giving something useful to someone who can use it.
Everybody wins. It’s a no-brainer.
Now imagine that happening in your town. Better still, imagine it happening in every town around the UK. Our towns are full of small businesses buying in packaging and other businesses paying to have the same packaging taken away.
If those businesses could work together we could vastly reduce the amount of packaging being created, recycled and incinerated. Councils would reduce the amount of recycling they needed to handle.
Small businesses, who give our towns their unique characters, could save money buying in packaging and having it taken away. This would make them more competitive and resilient, and more likely to survive against the tide of chain stores and big businesses.
It also means that local businesses can get some benefit from the huge consumer swing towards buying online.
It puts a little human interaction and community engagement into buying online. It means that you – the consumer – can buy a pair of shoes online and still contribute towards your local economy.
It empowers us all to do something small for our environment, our local businesses, and our communities.
Our long term aims
I’ve facetiously said that we want to be bigger than Twitter in 5 years, and I know it sounds crazy but it contains a little bit of truth. I don’t see any reason that packsharing packaging shouldn’t become the norm extremely quickly, particularly with renewed focus on our current climate emergency, and a surge of people actively searching for better ways to live more sustainably.
The truth is we want every small business in the UK to sign up to Packshare.
We want every shop, every restaurant, every ebayer, every artist, craftsperson and market seller.
All it takes is for businesses to sign up and tell people what they can reuse.
So sign up now at www.packshare.org
Or join our mailing list at https://tinyurl.com/PackshareMailingList
Or follow us on social media at: www.twitter.com/packshare
I was so excited when I heard about the Penryn Raft Race.
When I was growing up my family had a rowing boat moored at Forder Creek in Saltash, so I spent a lot of evenings and weekends slowly and methodically exploring the beaches along the river Lynher. It seems doubly strange to me, after 15 years of living in Falmouth, how little time I’ve actually spent in the Harbour.
I swim, snorkel and surf in the ocean pretty regularly, but I’ve always thought of boating in the harbour as something that other people do. The raft race seemed like a great way to remedy that, but it also ticked some of my other excitement boxes.
Firstly I love a good craft challenge, and building a raft out of reused materials would be high up on my bucket list if I was the kind of person who had a bucket list. In fact I’d been kicking around an idea of hosting a Packshare Birdman competition for a few months – grabbing a load of business packaging and seeing what kinds of flying devices we could build, and how far we could fly them into the harbour – and this tickled the same part of my brain. We decided to go one further than the official brief of reused materials and build our raft entirely out of mail-order packaging available through Packshare.
Secondly I love that the event was jointly hosted by the FXU – Falmouth and Exeter Students Union – and the Penryn Town Council. Everyone knows the relationship between the universities and the local community is not always plain sailing, and this is exactly the sort of event I think we need to highlight the best of both sides. I’ve worked for the Universities for most of the past decade and I’m just as despairing at how unloveably they portray themselves as I am with the – tiny minority – of locals who dismiss the worth that students bring to our community.
Thirdly we shamelessly wanted the press, and the raft race is local press gold.
So we started by setting our Packshare profile to ask for bubblewrap. This meant that we would be flagged up to anyone in our area who was trying to get rid of bubblewrap through Packshare.
Next I went on a trawl of the town for a decent pallet. Falmouth has always had an amazing culture for scrounging free stuff, and I always start any search by just walking through town and wandering around the back streets. The serendipity of it can be truly amazing, and I’ve found at least two sofas when I needed them most. Currently we’ve got an office chair and wicker shelving unit which were street finds, and pallets are never in short supply.
I quickly found my dream pallet outside of Trago Mills and they kindly said I could take it. It was massive and relatively lightweight, ideal for raft building. You might rightly complain that pallets aren’t listed on Packshare, and while that is currently true, we’re currently overhauling the site and they will be available in the version 2.0 so I gave us a break.
We cleverly decided to build it up at Falmouth’s own vegan eatery Satellite Café on Tregoniggie Industrial Estate partly because I wanted to scrounge some boxes from their neighbours Falmouth Cycles – who were wonderful and supplied most of the cardboard for the hulls – but also because the Satellite sausage rolls are out of this world.
So a few hours later we had four triangular prisms – Toblerone shaped – hulls made of cardboard which supported the weight of the pallet, and we’d had a very social afternoon being laughed at by friends and family about how stupid it was to build a raft out of cardboard.
We just about managed to fit all of this in the car, and lash the pallet back on the roof so we could drive it back to our garage.
The following day we got a knock on the door and a lovely guy from WeSUP – Gylly Beach based paddleboard/adventure company – had seen our request on Packshare and brought us a huge box of super-strong bubblewrap!
This takes us up to race day. We had no way to transport the fully constructed raft to the start-point of the race so we had to wait until that afternoon to fix it together. We spent the morning making seats out of the WeSUP bubblewrap and reinforcing the hulls with gaffer tape, and then we packed up the cars.
It was really exciting to drive down to the race and pass another team walking their raft down. They carried it like a coffin between the four of them and the whole thing looked extremely solemn. I guess they were as worried about their raft as we were about ours.
Seeing the other rafts for the first time was actually really reassuring. No shade, but seeing a team screwing a wooden frame and plastic milk bottles around an inflatable double mattress made me instantly realise were in the right of company for our cardboard and bubblewrap construction.
So an hour or so of frantic gaffer taping later we finally had a fully realised raft, and with more than a little apprehension we carried it down the steps and cautiously placed it in the water.
We placed first in our heat, successfully going through to the finals, but it was fairly evident that the Packshare Cantamaran – nicknamed by my brother – was ironically more of a single use vessel.
When we got back on the raft at the start line for the final race, It was so waterlogged that all four of us were already waist deep and once the crowd had finished counting us down to the starting whistle and we dug in our paddles we found it impossible to reach the dazzling speeds of the first heat. Added to that a ladybird landed on Louisa mid-race who felt the need to stop paddling and save it from drowning.
We placed 4th overall – last in the final – and felt like it was a fair result. We had a good frolic in the harbour and jumped off the Penryn bridge a few times to console ourselves.
All in all the day had a great vibe, the weather was perfect, and it was extremely gratifying to be paddling a raft that we’d made out of things that would otherwise just have been thrown away.
I think we managed to prove our point – that most mailorder packaging doesn’t need to be thrown away or needlessly recycled. There are loads of people who can reuse it just the way it is. It turns out that making a raft out of cardboard is a pretty stupid way to reuse it, but luckily Packshare can help you find businesses local to you who can put your old packaging to much better use.
Endless thanks to Abigail Simeoli and Amy James for being an amazing media team. All photos of the event are by them – http://www.amsimeoli.wordpress.com
Thankyou Sam Bradbury and Amy Norris for joining us on our raft building/floating adventure.
Thanks to everyone who donated us packaging, and all the businesses who received it when we packshared it on.
If you’d like to stay up to date with Packshare, join our mailing list at https://t.co/wQ2jD5VTby