Ruthin Friends of the Earth started as a group of four of us who came together in 2018 to mitigate against climate change and create ‘Plastic Free Ruthin’, with the goal of securing a plastic free community. Since then, our small group has grown considerably to having hundreds of local followers on social media, many of whom are actively involved in several eco initiatives locally, attending monthly Ruthin Friends of the Earth meetings, Repair Café events and supporting awareness and planting days throughout the year.
The group continually works towards a plastic-free community status. With our plastic free campaigns and assistance from the wider network of Friends of the Earth, we have been able to encourage local businesses and schools to use less single-use plastics.
We run the local Terracycle scheme which covers around half the county. On average, I collect 10 kilos of hard to recycle waste per month which I then send to Terracycle who pay me for the waste. This payment funds most of our Ruthin Friends of the Earth activities.
Some of our current collaborative projects include a ‘bws benthig’ with ReSource CIC, which enables members of the community to borrow useful items they don’t own, and where they can donate things that they no longer need for others to borrow. This also acts as a community hub for people to share knowledge and skills, and we also enjoy many activities together, such as litter picking and tree planting.
We are also proud to support the Incredible Edible network – which connects communities through the power of food. At the Incredible Edible Ruthin allotment, members also support regular plant and seed swaps.
We also promote Refill Ruthin, part of the Welsh National Refill Cymru. Any shop showing the refill sticker welcomes people to refill their reusable bottles with water. In July, we held a ‘plastic free challenge’, where we encouraged the community to cut down on their plastic use by carrying reusable drinks containers and shopping bags and avoiding single use plastics such as straws and unnecessary food packaging.
Prior to setting up this group, I’d been reading IPCC reports about climate change and the likely outcomes. I could see that political action wasn’t really happening at pace and I understood that there had to be more grassroots activity and for individuals to think more about their own impact on the environment and try to minimise the damage they do to the planet. I wanted to take control and show others that their actions, no matter how big or small, could influence climate change.
Ruthin Friends of the Earth encourages people to get involved in a variety of ways and we try to make the group as social and welcoming as possible so that more people will want to get involved. We have one rule - which is that people shouldn’t come to us expecting us to fix things for them – if they are passionate about something and want something done, we will support them, but those who are passionate enough must also help to move these projects forward. We are strong through the energies and efforts made by the volunteers and wider community.
As a volunteer-led group, it can sometimes be tough, but we work with fantastic people who share a common passion and goal. We divide jobs and responsibilities between us and that’s how we get things done and how we manage to run with relatively limited resources. There are also helpful organisations that support our work or provide a framework for our activity – for example Repair Café Wales and Incredible Edible.
This success is evidently clear in the huge growth of our group, which started out with just four of us and now includes hundreds of local people who are keen to engage the local initiatives we’re involved in.