News: November 2020

This month: Climate change, dark skies, food and gardening, greening Christmas, planning, plastic straws, reading groups and wild flowers.

Here are a few quick updates on what we’re up to…if you’re on Facebook, please join our group and get involved in the conversations.

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Climate change

According to Richmondshire Today, the Richmondshire District Council’s climate change working group have agreed to use a proposal by Green and Independent Group Councillor Leslie Rowe as the basis for its climate change plans.

'Dark sky reserve' bid

Local communities have backed an application to make the Yorkshire Dales National Park an International Dark Sky Reserve according to a YDNPA press release. A total of 71 Parish Councils and Parish Meetings in the National Park endorsed the National Park Authority’s bid, although sadly the  Reeth, Fremington and Healaugh Parish Council were unable to back the initiative.  The support of parishes representing 84% of the population of the National Park and 81% of its area was sufficient to enable the bid to go forward. 

Lit billboards are not a problem for Reeth but according to a BBC article a recent experiment in Tucson, Arizona showed that when the city reduced its 14,000 streetlights at 1:30am over 10 days, it hardly made a difference as most of the light pollution originated from other sources such as illuminated billboards, flood light and façade lighting. 

Food & gardening

Nights are drawing in and it is getting colder but there are still tasks that can be done in the vegetable garden.  Check out this month’s blog: November in the vegetable garden. You might still find enough sloes, hips and haws to make some hedgerow jelly or start some sloe gin for next year. Some say that sloes are best picked after a frost although putting them in a freezer also works.

Greening Christmas

There are a number of ways of making your Christmas more environmentally friendly:

  • Eschewing glitter: consider avoiding glitter as the tiny pieces of plastic can wash into the environment, harm wildlife, and get into the food chain. Many of the major retailers have pledged to reduce or entirely remove glitter from their own label Christmas stationery ranges including cards, giftwrap, gift bags  and crackers.  Tescos have swapped to biodegradable glitter but some academic studies show that this is just as environmentally problematic as the plastic glitter.  Choosing Christmas cards which are glitter free  means that the recipients can more easily recycle them  as many Councils can’t recycle items with glitter on them.
  • Some major retailers are also offering plastic free crackers this year or crackers which are made of recycled card and paper. A BBC article summarises a number of  green retailing  initiatives this Christmas.
  • Reduce single use plastics by choosing items with recyclable packaging. 
  • Save on card and paper completely by sending an e-card.  There are a number of companies which offer the chance for you to select a charity to which you make a donation and then send cards. Examples of such companies include Dontsendmeacard or Making a difference.

Recycle as much as you can

Christmas festivities always generate additional waste so try to recycle as much as you can.  A comprehensive guide to what you can recycle has been drawn up with the assistance of  Richmondshire District Council  staff  and is available on the Sustainable Swaledale website under Local Living: Christmas Recycling.

Richmondshire District Council have issued the following advice:

  • Place wrapping paper in the blue/ white bag on  collection day to keep it dry. Tissue paper goes into the grey bin.
  • Put excess recycling in open carrier bags on the day. Keep glass separate.  
  • Use a  local recycling centre but if the bins are too full, please take it back with you.
  • A special collection of Christmas trees/garden waste will take place w/c 13 January for residents with green bins who have booked a collection.
  • Check the Council website for collection dates and updates if inclement weather prevents collections. Or phone 01748 829100 for information.


The group followed up on its submission last month in response to the Government’s Planning White Paper: Planning for the Future, by sending a summary of the main points to our MP: the Rt. Hon. Rishi Sunak MP.  Mr Sunak believes that the reforms will bring benefits but has sent the letter on to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government so that they can make a formal response. 

The debate around planning reform is gaining momentum according to a BBC report.

Plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds banned

A reminder that single use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds were banned in England on  1st October 2020. Friends of the Earth estimate this will save an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds each year.

Reading group

We are starting a book/podcast discussion group, to share our thoughts and recommendations on sustainability-themed publications. We plan to ‘meet’ (Zoom!) monthly, and probably to discuss a book one month, and a podcast/article/film other recommendation on the alternate months.

Suggestions for the first book include:

Wilding, by Isabella Tree  

Braiding Sweetgrass : Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer  

English Pastoral : An Inheritance – The Sunday Times bestseller from the author of The Shepherd’s Life, by  James Rebanks [this one’s not yet available in paperback] 

If you’d like to be included, please email Catherine Weetman ( and we’ll try and sort out suitable regular ‘meeting’.

Wild flowers

Researchers at the Open University reckons that a large proportion of the population have plant blindness which means that they fail to appreciate or notice plants.

The group is working on a number of ideas to increase people’s awareness of wild flowers.  The areas of grass which Reeth, Fremington and Healaugh Parish Council have agreed to cut later allowing wild flowers to seed are currently being confirmed.  

Core Group Meeting

Our meetings (first Thursday of the month) are online for the time being – please get in touch if you’d like to join us on Zoom.

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