Newsletter June 2018

At our AGM in April we reported on all the wonderful projects Transition supporters had made happen in 2017/18, and heard how we could re-engage with local food producers from New Mills Food Assembly and The Old Cowshed.
Now’s the time to start to do even better this year, and there’s lots of opportunities to get involved. Please contact us on if you’d like to know more, or want to start your own project.

Incredible Edible 
Now Spring is well and truly here, attention is turning to Incredible Edible again:

  • Come down to our event in Torr Top Car Park 11am-1pm, Saturday 2nd June for some homemade produce and a chat, when we will also be doing some weeding and planting, and raising awareness of the Incredible Edible projects and opportunities. Come and find out what it’s all about first hand!
  • We now have a brand new Incredible Edible Facebook page! Join the group to keep up to date with activities here.
  • New Mills Community Orchard and Forest Garden will be having maintenance sessions in the orchard starting at 7:30 pm on the 1st Thursday of each month in the summer, weather permitting. No gardening skill required necessarily, and you can help yourself to whatever is in season! Keep an eye on their Facebook page for any further details, and just turn up, with gardening gloves if you have some.
  • New Mills Primary School have started on their new Edible Garden project, with the help of a Lottery grant that has allowed them to employ an additional member of staff for it.
  • Inspired by this, Thornsett Primary School PTA approached us for help in setting up their Edible Garden project. They are after donations of edible plants, and possibly gardening equipment, so if you have any surplus seedlings or spare serviceable equipment they’d love to know. You can either drop them off at the school office from 4th June, or contact to make an arrangement for collection. Also, they could use the help of any handy DIYers out there who can assist them make some simple wooden planters like those at New Mills Primary. Let us know if you can volunteer!
  • New Mills Beavers and their parents had a great time working to help create an Incredible Edible garden at Watford House.
  • We hope to expand the planting up and ownership of the Planters for Peace this year – if you are interested in looking after one, please let us know!

These are great practical projects; if you want to get involved, come along to an event, or donate plants to Thornsett School,email us at

Rethink Plastic!
Lots to report here as well:

  • we’ve been involved in the One World Festival, with its plastics theme, and will have a stall there
  • Liz has been working with the pupils at St Georges School, and raised awareness amongst the other High Peak primary schools
  • We’re also working with the festival and councils to try to reduce single use plastics at street events
  • look out for an Eco-bricks project, which uses discarded plastic in the construction of useful items
  • meanwhile, don’t forget to use the Refill app when refilling your water bottle this summer!

Summer Events
New Mills is all about summer events, and Transition New Mills will be there at each. Apart from the Torr Top Incredible Edible event on June 2nd, you can come and see the stall at New Mills Carnival on June 9th at Newtown Rec, then at the One World Festival on July 7th, when we’ll be focussing on the festival’s plastics theme.
If you can help out on our stalls, even for just an hour or so, this would be really appreciated – please let us know if you can, as it’s a big commitment for the admin committee on our own!
We’ve also got a surprise event in development for the September Festival – watch this space!

Map Jam!
Our Transition New Mills map jam has been updated, and is now embedded on our website.
This maps all transition and related projects in the town that are helping create a more sustainable and resilient future, and includes local producers (including local farms, people selling eggs, and breweries), Incredible Edible sites, local renewable energy producers and balsam bashing areas.
Let us know what you want to see on the map by emailing us at

Balsam Bashing
The balsam is growing, and we are planning a further series of balsam bashing sessions to complement all the informal bashing going on. It is amazing the impact that a group can have in a concentrated area. Look out on the Transition New Mills Facebook page for details of the events.

Discussion Group Next Meeting

Next meeting is on the evening of Monday 18th June, discussing the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling.
Please contact us on for venue details if you want to go.

Local Giving

The Local Giving website is up and running making it easy to donate money online, and offering the opportunity to gift aid it.
We don’t charge for membership any more, so rely and grants and donations. Donations are especially valuable to us as they help us get projects off the ground, and worked up to a position where we can apply for grant funding. Please donate as much or as little as you want at Transition New Mills | Localgiving

The eagerly awaited Food Hub, that we heard about from Esther Morrison at the AGM, is due for launch in June. It will allow you to place bespoke orders direct from local producers for collection from the Torrs Butterfly House on Thursday evenings. Keep an eye on the Food Hub Facebook page for details.

Clean Air Day
Thursday 21st June is Clean Air Day, with various events around the region. It’s a chance to find out more about air pollution, share information with friends and colleagues, and help make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.

No current newsletter is complete at the moment without mention of GDPR. We have taken advice from the Information Commissioner, and were advised that as everyone on our contact list has already given consent to be contacted for updates and newsletters, it is not necessary to have everyone reconfirm this. We have, however, updated our privacy notice: Transition New Mills holds the contact details of those people who have asked to be kept in touch with news, events and opportunities about projects they support. The Administration Team only have access to it, and will not share it with any other third parties.   You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking unsubscribe at the bottom of this newsletter, or emailing us at with the word ‘Remove’ in the title line.

Just Do It!

The 7th in our series of blogs by Liz Longden.

Well into 2018, and plastic pollution is being talked about in mainstream media more and more. Even the BBC have recently featured a family who agreed to try to go completely plastic free for ten days. It’s possible now that most families have at least been giving some thought to the way they shop. It’s all very encouraging, isn’t it? But from the start of our campaign we have never thought most people or families can live a plastic free life, because we have to stay in our ordinary lives at the same time. We use computers with plastic housing, we fill our plastic rubbish bins, we are constrained by our incomes to buy the food we can afford, in the time we have, in the shops that are available to us.
At the same time, we have become accustomed to comfort, convenience, and a huge range of choice in products, in drinks, shampoos, conditioners, and laundry products. Huge range of fresh fruit and veg all year round. It’s hard to do without these things. It’s very easy to persuade yourself that what was a luxury has become a necessity.
So, this is a blog about not needing to beat ourselves up. About recognising that it is impossible to be absolutist, and that we can all only do what we can do. My friend Lorrie is writing a blog about how she has changed her shopping habits, which is full of information and ideas about replacing plastic with alternatives. Lots of information in there for those that are able.
However, this is also a blog saying: ‘no more excuses’! I am coming to think that it’s time that EVERYBODY should be thinking about this and taking what action they can. No matter how busy and stressed your lives, there will be some changes you can easily make that will make a difference. I understand that all we have been talking about, for some people, is very difficult. For instance, a few people really need straws to be able to drink safely and independently, or without pain. But most of us don’t. That’s what lips are for, and for most of us they work really well. So, ditch the straws, and replace them with nothing.
Yes, nothing.
Go back to powdered washing powder. It’s cheaper, lasts longer, and for most people, will cause no problems for your skin.
Go for the unpacked fruit and veg whenever you can. You don’t need to bag it.
Put your leftovers in a bowl in the fridge, and put a plate on top. No expense, zero waste , zero carbon, zero consumption.
DON’T BUY BOTTLED WATER! You know that plastic contamination has been found in your bottled water now? I have to admit that that kind of made me laugh, but not in a good way.
These changes would require no extra time, effort or money. They may lead you to make more changes, maybe not; either way they will make a difference, and they will start you thinking.

So, I am no longer asking will you, can you, could you? I’m asking, why aren’t you? And I’m saying, I think you can, and I think you have to.

Rewilding Derbyshire’s Uplands

Carrifran 2015

Yesterday a group of Transition New Mills members went to a well-attended Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s talk by Tim Birch on rewilding Derbyshire’s uplands.

Tim began by outlining his vision for 40 years hence, where parts of the National park had been allowed to rewild, allowing some iconic species such as goshawks, peregrine falcons, red squirrels and even golden eagles to prosper in a fully functioning ecosystem at a landscape scale. This was based on success stories from elsewhere, including Dovestones RSPB reserve near Greenfield, Knepp in West Sussex, and Oostvaarderplassen only 30 minutes from Amsterdam.

The potential benefits of rewilding are many. Apart from helping a great number of species in decline, bringing natural wonder to people, the practice can address flooding problems (where vegetation can help the soil retain water, and beaver dam construction can slow river flow) and help revitalise rural economies through eco-tourism.

There are some barriers to overcome before this can be realised. Tim focussed in particular on incompatible grouse moor management practices which focus on burning heather to keep it low, removing any trees on which predators could perch, and often trapping and persecuting wildlife such as mountain hares, foxes and birds of prey. Local wildlife reserves often have limited effect because the surrounding land is often hostile to wildlife which has no regard for boundaries. Tim questioned why such practices were so widespread in the National Park which is supposed to be an area whose purpose is to connect people with wildlife and nature, and made a call to arms that the aims of the Mass Trespass needed a further push to be finally achieved.

There are some promising signs and opportunities. Michael Gove, the current Environment Secretary is said to be interested; Brexit offers opportunities through changes to a farming subsidy mechanism which pays farmers to keep land bare; the Moors for the Future programme is making progress (although the next stage was questioned – what wildlife will be allowed back when the moorland is regenerated?); projects in Derbyshire had been identified (most in the south and east, although Ladybower and the Upper Goyt Valley was highlighted as having great potential)  and hill farming is in crisis and eco-tourism offers a good way of diversifying rural economies. There is growing public awareness and support, although it was stressed that there needs to be much more public debate of the issue. There will inevitably be compromises necessary, and one solution may be to follow the New Zealand model of  ‘Spare and Share’ where some areas are identified for rewilding and some where retaining cultural assets are given priority.

Overall, the mood was very positive, and it was noted that some improvements are capable of being seen in 10 years or so, which made the prospect all the more tantalising.

If you are interested in finding out more about rewilding, check out Rewilding Britain, or read George Monbiot’s book ‘Feral’.

More Questions than Answers

The sixth in the series of blogs by Liz Longden.

I’ve been feeling more and more hopeful about the plastics campaign in the past few weeks. I see my friends talking on social media, even starting campaigns of their own. Bollington, a very similar town to New Mills and about six miles away, is starting to do the same and asked Transition New Mills to go and talk at their inaugural meeting.
Although it still feels like wading through treacle sometimes, increasingly it feels like plastic pollution is being taken seriously. So far, so marvellous. However, the more I know, the more I realise I know almost nothing.
When I first started to think and talk about these issues, I had what I suppose was a fairly simplistic view. Just replace single use plastic with something else and all will be well. Now I know that it is all a lot more complicated than that.
For instance, our councils have to decide how to organise their waste collection to maximise effectiveness within the constraints of their budgets, and although it’s easy to see them as simply obstructive, I am sure they are coping with issues we know nothing about, and they have to stay within a legal framework I am just now beginning to get a handle on.
Then you have to start thinking about consumption of resources. If you stop using one polluting consumable, but just replace it with another, what have you actually achieved?
Suppose we all start using huge amounts of PLA, plant based plastic, (compostable if you have the right composting system,) what will be the consequences in terms of the land needed to produce the plants to make the plastic? I don’t know. How do I find out? I don’t know.
We are asking people to stop using plastic shopping bags and start using bags made from other things, for instance, cotton. The cotton has to be grown, (water, land, fertilisers) and processed, (water, energy, probably pollution) and it has been estimated that a cotton bag would need to be used 143 times before it is environmentally ‘cheaper’ than a plastic bag. Are we doing that? As above.
Suppose enough of us realise we can’t sustain the mindless consumption of ‘stuff’. Well, people are making that ‘stuff’, and it’s how they make their living. Who decides whose job or business survives? What is available for the less well off in our society if the cheap clothes and toys disappear from the marketplace? As above, I don’t know.

So often, human society seems to create a problem when they were trying to solve a problem. So that when plastic bottles were first routinely available, they were hailed as a real benefit in cutting down transport costs for bottled drinks. Twenty years on, we now have a huge proliferation in the sales of bottled water, soft drinks, energy drinks, cheap alcohol, and I would dearly love to know how much we spend transporting them. Now we have the problems of obesity, dental decay, and what to do with those seven billion plastic drinks bottles used every year in this country alone.
These are huge problems. I can talk about them, research the issues, try to influence people but in the end the only persons behaviour I control is my own. But I have come to the realisation that there is no such thing as an action (large or small) that has no consequences. Some of the consequences will perhaps be the ones that you intended, but there may be others that are less desirable, even if your intentions were of the very best. I am learning to develop the mindset of ‘what will happen if….’ and to take that thinking a lot further into the future than I have previously. Scary stuff.
So lots more thinking and research needed. But some things at least are perfectly clear to me. Plastic industries are huge and powerful, and have every intention of continuing to grow. We cannot continue in our dependence on single use plastic in the way we are. I will keep on asking questions, talking, blogging, asking, talking, blogging. And in the meantime, we have some simple and straightforward guiding principles: Refuse. Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Every day. I don’t think we can go far wrong with these. Cheers.

On the Nature of New Year Resolutions

Latest blog from Liz Longden:

Time honoured traditions, the chance for new beginnings, remaking yourself, it’s seductive stuff.
Having said that, I don’t think I have ever actually made a serious New Year resolution. Not sat down and thought it through; not done some proper reflection about what I want to do and be in the coming year, and the year after that and so on. Perhaps it’s time though to change that. As I get older I am becoming more active politically. I am thinking more actively about how I impact the world about me. At the same time I remain stymied by my limitations. You know: not very fit, tired too much of the time. Too much of my mental and physical energies spent worrying about things that almost certainly won’t happen, about making a mess of something, just being anxious. Sometimes this makes it nearly impossible to do the things I want to, namely, help drive forward an effective campaign against single use plastic in the High Peak – this beautiful place where we live and that I love a great deal. I get scared of negative reaction. I get discouraged by apathetic reaction. I get too anxious to move something forward in case I get it ‘wrong’. And the American oil industries have just announced a $180 billion investment in the plastics industries, so we need to keep trying, keep shouting, and I want my voice to be in there, and heard, so I need to have energy, and real commitment. Something must change.
I am not ashamed of having problems with my mental health. People are talking about their mental health with more freedom and openness than ever before, and this can only be a good thing. But I am ashamed that I have let it blight my life for so long. Don’t think I will find it easy, and it might take me some time, but NO MORE. I have to get on.
Fellow campaigners, you can help me if you will. I can be helped by ‘having’ to do things. If I have said I will do something, give me deadlines. Harass me. Bring me to the sticking point. Ask me directly to do something. I will nearly always say yes, then as above.
I guess the rest is up to me.


My Present Dilemma

It’s barely more than three weeks to Christmas. Now I have in my time, like a lot of folk, gone out and bought tat, cheap rubbishy nonsense, for the sake of having bought something, for the sake of having the shopping done when you are exhausted, and you just want to go home. But I think most things I have ever bought have been an expression of love, of friendship, of appreciation.  I have bought what I could afford, and had immense pleasure in the giving.  Conversely, I have received gifts, made or bought, and have felt loved and appreciated in the receiving.

This year I feel I need a different approach to the whole shooting match. In terms of the buying, I will be doing my utmost to avoid plastic packaging and containers. So: no nice smellies, unless it’s a bar of soap. No delicious biscuits, unless they’re in a cardboard box or a tin.  No foolish Christmas singing animals or cheap plastic toys that give but a few minutes of mild amusement. But just how rigorous, how absolutist to be, is taxing my brain. For instance, I saw a lovely sweater the other day. It would look great on my youngest daughter. But it was made of acrylic fibre, one of the worst offenders for shedding fibres into the water when washed. I didn’t buy it, but I regret not seeing her the sweater in it, if you see what I mean. 

And what do you say to the folks who usually buy presents for me? Do I ask that nobody buys me plastic wrapped items? Or would that be unreasonably forcing my views on my friends and family? After all, you wouldn’t buy one of those lovely wrapped Spanish hams for a vegetarian. Is it okay for me to ask that nobody gets one for me, because I don’t want to be responsible for its packaging? I don’t want to be rude, and I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of giving. Second hand books are a marvellous thing, and I can always find room for them. Ditto second hand clothes, but I think my best idea so far is that my cash strapped daughters gift me some of their time and energy, by painting the hall and landing. It badly needs doing and every time I see it I will be reminded of them. Genius eh?  

What do readers think?  Anybody else struggling with these issues? Would really like to hear your views.

 Liz Longden.

October Newsletter

Here’s an update after a very busy summer, and a look forward to exciting new projects kicking off now to keep us busy over winter!
Transition is all about local action, and there are lots of opportunities below. Please contact us on if you’d like to get involved!

Rethink Plastic!
Those of you who have been following Liz Longden’s plastics blog series will know we have a new campaign: Rethink Plastic New Mills. This is in response to the growing problem of plastic use (and especially single use plastics), which is building up in oceans and on land, and which is largely unnecessary as alternatives to single use plastics exist in most cases. There are plans to share what we have found out about how to reduce use with people and schools, and also encourage businesses to offer alternatives. The first element of the campaign is Refill (see below and our new Facebook site).
Transition New Mills will be out on the Prom on Market Street on Saturday morning (14th October), so come along and find out more about it!

Refill New Mills
This offers an alternative to single use bottled water by publicising locations where people can refill their bottles free of charge. Using the Refill app, users can locate participating outlets, which could be cafes, restaurants, or even farms. Look out for the poster in participating businesses. At the moment, the following businesses are part of the scheme, so why not pop in and tell them what a good idea it is!
Pulse cafe
Revive cafe
Goia Mia cafe
Clockhouse cafe
Sett Valley Cycles


Incredible Edible 
As the growing season comes to a close for this year, Incredible Edible can be very proud of its achievements:
Torr Top car park walls have been planted up with edible plants and flowers, available for anyone to harvest. More is planned for next year.
‘Planter for Peace’ has been replanted at The Printers at Thornsett
New Mills Primary have had a successful year’s growing, learning (and eating!), and are awaiting the outcome of a funding bid for a polytunnel and raised beds
A good working relationship has been established with High Peak Borough Council, and New Mills Town Council
A popular stall at NMCO Apple Day giving away herbs and seedlings, and promoting the project
New Mills Community Orchard have created a trial Forest Garden with perennial fruit and vegetables
These are great practical projects; if you want to get involved, email us at

Last Balsam Bash!
Anyone who has bashed some balsam this year is invited to join us at this year’s celebration alternative balsam bash lunch at Pulse, on 21st October at 12:30 – it’s great we have so many helping hands for this and it would be nice to celebrate our achievements after a summer of grafting! Let us know on facebook if you’re thinking of coming.

This year we concentrated again on 3 main areas : the Torrs, the Picker and Mousley Bottom. The areas we have worked on in past years are much clearer and hopefully next year we shall be able to extend to neighbouring areas.
There have been about 20 organised bashes with around a dozen people involved in total, starting in mid-May and finishing in mid-August when the balsam began to set seed.
However we have seen evidence of individual freelance bashing and have been encouraged by the interest of passers-by and an increase of awareness of the problem in the general public. We have now got leaflet dispensers in the Torrs, Mousley Bottom and Hague Bar, in addition to leaflets in the Heritage Centre and the Library which have to be replenished regularly.
Next year we will be greatly helped by New Mills Town Council who have purchased a mowing arm which will be particularly good for the rampant areas of balsam in Hague Bar meadows.

Discussion Group Next Meeting
Next meeting on Monday 16th October in New Mills will look at Naomi Klein’s ‘No Is Not Enough’. Just email us for location if you want to go on

Demain (Tomorrow)
As part of New Mills Festival, we screened and discussed Demain (Tomorrow): an inspiring film exploring agriculture, economics, energy, education, democracy and bringing together some real life solutions to our current environmental problems. It was great to see so many people there, including many new faces.
There were lots of positive suggestions and ideas from the audience; what we need now are people to help make them happen!

Local Giving
We have signed up again to the Localgiving site which allows us to receive donations online, as well as offering match funding opportunities. However, the way these work is not as straightforward as last year, so if you intend to make a donation we recommend waiting until we can give further advice on how to maximise the match funding element.


3rd in the series of blogs from Liz Longden:

We have been making some progress in the past week. Just over a week ago we held a meeting for interested people who might have a stake in this campaign. As the time approached I have to confess to an attack of the jitters. What if nobody came? What if only a couple of people came, what if we couldn’t attract interest of input from the people there? What if I was completely incoherent, fluffed all my lines? However, none of these things happened, we had a good turn out from other New Mills groups, and input from a HPBC councillor, resulting in a successful meeting.

Among other decisions we now have a name for our campaign: RETHINK PLASTIC NEW MILLS. Maybe not that original, but it seems to fit the bill. It describes what we are trying to do, and it doesn’t ask us to aim for the impossible. We are all aware that we cannot get rid of all plastic, nor is it necessary to do so.

All this has had me musing on the nature of campaigning. People tell me that campaigners are more likely to be successful if we show rather than tell, suggest rather than instruct, encourage rather than harangue. Knowing this doesn’t stop me wanting to accost folk in the supermarket buying multipacks of flavoured water, bottled in plastic and wrapped in plastic. I don’t do this obviously, but I so badly want to get through to them. What can we do that we are not already doing? There is so much information out there now. David Attenborough is talking about it. How can people not be listening? What stops people listening? How can we help people to change their habits?

Transition New Mills are going to be on Market St Promenade next Saturday morning, the 14th October, (unless the weather makes it too difficult) with lots of information and ideas about why you might want to reduce your plastic footprint and ways you can do so without too much disruption. I hope we are going to show, suggest and encourage, rather than the other. Above all I hope we are ready to listen. We would really love you to come and see us. Any ideas you might have would be more than welcome. If we just get some people to go away thinking, it will be worth the effort.

So I hope to see you there!

Liz Longden.

Plastic Fantastic #2

This the second of the Transition New Mills plastic campaign blog posts:
I was at the screening last Tuesday of the film ‘Demain’ (‘Tomorrow’) and came away full of energy and commitment, sure we could anything we could put our minds to, with enough thought and effort.
The next morning I was plunged back into despondency, picking up plastic bottles discarded in the street, along the canal, and on the playing fields round the corner from my home. The littering on the playing field has been worse recently. I have picked up twenty or so bottles from there over the past couple of weeks, plus the drinks cans, sweet wrappers and crisp packets. It also looks as if the litter bin has been deliberately emptied and scattered to the winds. Perhaps it is a fox or badger that has discovered human food, and I am blaming innocents, in which case, apologies. But the plastic remains!
So after all this litter picking and rumination I have to conclude that it is our young people that we need to get on board. Young people can be brilliant, committed, energetic, innovative and brave. And young people are currently coming to political and environmental issues in large numbers, as we saw in the recent election. So when I get up this week to talk about what might be priorities at our campaign Partners’ Launch, I think discussing ways to get our young people involved will be up at the top of the list.
Are any young people reading this? Or do you know any young people who may be interested in becoming involved in this campaign? Can we find out what they know about plastic pollution and what ideas they have about dealing with it? I am afraid I no longer have any contact with teenagers – my daughters are in their twenties. But I know people who have children and grandchildren. We would love to hear from you, and even more would love to hear that you’d like to be involved​ -​​ ​in any way at all. We are listening!
I am thinking a lot about this week’s launch [this was on Thursday 28th Sept – website problems prevented posting of the blog here – ed] which is for any people or groups who feel they have something to contribute to this campaign. I have a feeling that the overall success or failure of our efforts will be hugely influenced by the input we can get from ​the community. Please come along, or if you are unable to do this, perhaps you could send us your ideas about what our priorities and strategies might be. Thank you, and thank you for reading.

Liz Longden

Plastic Fantastic!

plastic-waste[1]For a few months now, I have been blethering on in my own way about PLASTIC. I can’t honestly remember what it was that got me so motivated: I’ve been a moderately fanatic about recycling for years, and I’ve never been a big buyer of bottled water, but I always thought that if you made the effort to recycle properly that was enough. Was it a Greenpeace article, or the News or the Guardian that caught my attention? I can’t remember. There is a lot of information out there. Eight million tons of plastic waste entering our oceans every year, and staying there, never going away, just getting added to. Killing wildlife, sometimes in the cruellest way. Poisoning the seas, and now it’s poisoning us.
I was horrified. Since then I have been posting, getting hot under the collar, driving friends and family mad, talking, posting, talking, posting, trying to get folk to think about what they were buying and throwing away.
Then I get a message from a chap called Phil. He’s from Transition New Mills, and he asks me if I would like some help. Well no sensible person is going to turn down help, are they? So I said ‘yes please’, and now I am working with the lovely bunch of people who run Transition in our town, thinking and planning about how we can reduce plastic consumption here.
We are hoping that we can make our town cleaner and tidier, (less litter), save some of us some money, make our town even more attractive to visitors, walkers, families and holiday makers, be beneficial for our businesses, and be good for our planet as well.
This is a huge project. We have lots of ideas, but it’s going to take some time and effort. Would really love it if you would WATCH THIS SPACE!

Liz Longden