FOUNDERS of a green-thinking new social enterprise are calling for help in spreading some much-needed new year goodwill.
Sarah Brown has launched The Wish Tree with friend Annika Clifton, with the aim of bringing people together to make wishes — and play “genie” by granting them for others.
Seen as Rotherham’s first “gift economy” — with time and expertise to be traded for free — The Wish Tree is the first project of the pair’s Eco Garden social enterprise, which will see Rotherham’s first zero-waste shop opened this summer.
Shoppers would be able to bring their own containers for refills of essentials like cereal, shampoo, herbs and spices.
Explaining the concept, Sarah (36) said: “We want people to be able to express their wishes and if someone can make them happen they can come forward and we can provide materials if needed.”
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For example, someone might wish to be able to play the piano, only for another member of the “tree” to offer piano lessons.
In return, the trainee musician would be prepared to step up when a wish is made that they may be able to grant.
Sarah, of Waverley, said: “Our goal is for the people of Rotherham to make wishes and have them granted by members of their community.
“We’ve set The Wish Tree going now because we want 2021 to be a lot better than last year has been.
“The idea is to access as many people in Rotherham as possible by having it online but there will be a computer station in the shop so people can access it and a small physical tree so children can take part, too, maybe by exchanging unwanted toys.
“You get a nice sense of doing something for someone else and it’s a nice boost for everyone. If someone does something small for you it boosts your day and improves your entire outlook.”
Sarah and Annika hope to launch the Eco Garden shop by summer, with all profits going into providing materials to help wishes be granted.
“People will be able to bring their own containers and buy cereals, herbs, spices and so on and we will also be selling eco-friendly items like shampoo bars,” Sarah said.
“Reducing waste and packing is something we’ve both been interested in for some time.
“Annika has made her own safe wipes and we use beeswax wraps and shampoo bars.
“We are both learning as we go along and we have a weekly chat live on our Facebook page every week.
“We’ve both decided we are going to reduce our waste as much as possible and reduce our waste for the month down to the size of a jam jar.”
Sarah said supermarkets often made it hard to shop without buying large amounts of plastic, adding: “We are doing a lot of shopping online at the moment and with supermarkets the amount of plastic they send is insane.
“But a lot of greengrocers for example will have fruit and vegetables loose or let you remove the packaging.
“Annika and I both have quiet a science-y background so we are trying to bring that to everything we post.
“Just because something has a ‘bio’ label doesn’t mean it’s a good product.”
Visit www.the-eco-garden.co.uk or search Facebook for The Eco Garden to find out more and sign up to The Wish Tree.
TOP TIPS FOR GOING GREEN:
THE team behind Rotherham’s huge BDR processing plant — which deals with waste from 340,000 households — and eco-minded group Waste Less South Yorkshire have drawn up a list of top tips on cutting down on rubbish and going greener in 2021:
Don’t throw in the towel
Opt for reusable nappies instead of the disposable sort, of which three billion are junked in the UK every year.
From birth to potty training, the average baby will go through 4,000 to 6,000 disposable nappies, which cost hundreds of pounds and take hundreds of years to decompose.
The Environment Agency have found that re-usable nappies can be 40 per cent better for the environment and save parents cash.
Anyone interested but unsure where to start can sign up to hire a selection to try at home. The South Yorkshire Nappy Library can be found on Facebook.
Make your brew a “green one”
Every day we drink around 100 million cups of tea and 70 million cups of coffee — but our favourite drinks are damaging the environment.
Switching to loose tea rather than teabags not only cuts waste but also produces fuel for your compost heap, as used tea leaves are biodegradable (tea bags made from bio-plastic are not).
A third of all UK households now own an espresso pod coffee machine but millions of pods are thrown away.
Using an aluminium pod that can be returned for recycling, or re-usable pods that can be filled with just the right amount of coffee, the grinds composted and the pod re-used, is another planet-aiding step.
Ditch the cling film
Storing food in plastic — of which 1.2 billion metres is used annually in Britain — is a no-no environmentally.
Clingfilm is hard to recycle and due to the way we use it, a lot ends up in our environment as litter.
Instead, opt for re-usable food tubs, bowl covers and beeswax wraps.
Old takeaway containers and sauce jars can be re-used — or you can just pop a plate over the top of a dish to cover it in the fridge.
Re-usable lunchboxes and food containers (dig out that Tupperware from the back of the cupboard) are another great way to transport meals and snacks and they save money.
Don’t chuck out your Christmas treats!
Piles of chocolates and slabs of cheese always go down well at Christmas — but you can have too much of a good thing.
Waste Less South Yorkshire has drawn up a host of recipes for ways to use up the surplus, including mac ‘n’ cheese and chocolate brownies.
Head to www.wasteless-sy.co.uk for some tasty food hacks.
Think twice before buying new clothes
The value of unused clothing in UK wardrobes is estimated at around a staggering £30 billion, and it is estimated that £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill every year.
The fashion industry is ranked fourth in terms of its negative environmental impact — just below housing, transport and food — with washing machines sending millions of synthetic fibres into the ocean annually.
Buying second hand clothes, digging out some of the items at the back of your wardrobe and ensuring any you want to see the back of go to charity shops or textile banks is a good start.
School uniform is a particular problem, with clothes often discarded after being grown out of, so try to buy second hand or pass on to other parents and carers.
Visit https://www.wasteless-sy.co.uk/ or follow Waste Less South Yorkshire on social media for more tips.