News and blog

A Repair Cafe for the Isle of Wight?

A Repair Cafe is a place where the local community can come together to carry out simple repairs on items that would otherwise be thrown away. Started in Amsterdam in 2009 Repair Cafe is now a worldwide movement. There are 2,000 running across the globe and in 2018 they stopped around 350 tonnes of stuff from going to waste. You can bring electronics, textiles, bikes, furniture and computers for minor repairs.

Repair Cafes are a volunteer-led movement and work because they have a groundswell of support – both to run them and to use them. In the south of England Repair Cafes are operating successfully in Portsmouth, Chichester, Southampton and Lymington. Could a regular Repair Cafe work on the Isle of Wight?

Clare Seek, who was instrumental in setting up the Portsmouth Repair Cafe, will be sharing her experience and knowledge at Shaping Newport on Saturday 14th March 2020. This meeting is an opportunity for people who are keen to be part of a team to set up and help run a great social and environmental initiative to find out more.

If you want to support and develop a regular cafe on the Island – do sign up to the event on 14 March via EventBrite.

If you are interested in finding out more about how a Repair Cafe works there is information on the Repair Cafe movement website. You can also drop in to a local repair cafe in Portsmouth, Southampton or Lymington with an item to repair – or just to see for yourself how they work.

Why we need to tackle our clothes addiction in 2020: and how to get started.

We seem to have a love-hate relationship with clothing in this country. We are buying many more items each year than a few decades ago – but wearing them for less long. And it is wreaking havoc on our planet. Why? Because each new item of clothing comes with a cost that is way more than just the figure on the price tag. A T-shirt that you bought for a few pounds would have needed around 2,700 litres of water to produce. That is more than one person drinks in three years. Most of the water is needed to grow the thirsty cotton that is used to make the T-shirt – and cotton is often grown in countries where water is already scarce. You might have seen satellite pictures of the Aral Sea which was once the fourth largest body of inland water in the world. It has shrunk to a tiny fraction of its former self because it was used to farm unsustainable volumes of cotton used in clothes manufacture. On top of that the cotton industry accounts for huge volumes of pesticide use – a sixth of the world total. Using pesticides so that we can wear more clothes is not a good way to care for the planet we rely on.

Water is not just a problem with production. Remember that Christmas jumper you bought last year? Chances are it was made of synthetics fabric – a product of the fossil fuel-based plastics industry. When we wash synthetic clothes very tiny plastic microfibres come out in the wash – and into our oceans. They are absorbed by living creatures – and ultimately by us. 

Our clothes have an impact at the end of their lives too. We bin around 300,000 tonnes of clothes each year – which (and this is based on my back of an envelope calculation) is the equivalent of more than 2 billion T-shirts. That is a huge waste problem: once in the household rubbish bin clothes will end up in incinerators or landfill sites. And the planet does not have the resources to keep making ever more clothing items to satisfy our fast fashion fascination. On top of that around a third of clothes in the average wardrobe have not been worn for over a year. That means that all the water and energy and labour that went into making them is just being wasted. 

Fortunately, things are starting to change as we understand more about the impact of our clothes buying habits. And there are things each and every one of us can do straight away. 

Start with buying less – it is really that simple. Go for a walk outdoors on the day you planned to go shopping. If you are feeling brave you can set yourself a target to buy nothing new (bar absolute essentials) for a month. You could even work up to a year. A year? Yes, it has been done. And if you do buy something new choose something that will last.

In the meantime, have a look through your wardrobe. One of the best things we can do to reduce the impact of our clothes habit is to make more use of the items we already have. What are you not wearing? If it is good quality but you really can’t wear it then sell it, donate it to a charity shop or swap it with a similarly-sized friend.  Got an item that you love but in need of mending? Get the needle and thread out. And if you are not confident with sewing, then book yourself on one of the Textile Transformation sewing workshops starting in March. We will get you on the road to repairing your clothes!

Textile Transformation is a joint project between Making Space and Planet Aware supported by Hampshire County Council and is all about helping us to cut the amount of waste textiles that we each produce. Check out our full list of workshops and events on our blog page and follow #TextileTransformation on social media to stay in touch with the project.

Alternative Spirit of Christmas December 2019

Christmas is a great time of year to rest and enjoy being with family and friends. But this message can often be lost in the noise of commercial interests and the pressure to spend money and consume stuff. So, escape for a while and celebrate in a different way with Planet Aware and friends.

The 2019 Alternative Spirit of Christmas events on 1 December at Quay Arts in Newport and on 14 December at Ventnor Exchange will bring people together to create a Yuletide celebration away from the commercial noise. It is a chance to find and share ideas and information on how we can still enjoy this time of year whilst treading gently on the Earth. Take part in craft activities designed to start us thinking about using less of our Earth’s resources, and most of all enjoy time with others whilst poets, story tellers and singers share stories of a Christmas where time with others and gifts from the heart bring us together.

Last year six performers appeared at our first ever ‘Alternative Spirit of’ event in Ventnor. If you would like the opportunity to share and perform a song, poem, or story about a less commercial Christmas we would love to hear from you. It could be something you have written yourself or something already well known.  The theme ‘Alternative Spirit of Christmas’ can encompass work about friendship, empathy, the natural world at this time of year, how you overcame a difficulty with the help of others or a stranger. Funny, sad and thoughtful pieces are all welcomed.

You will need to be a reasonably confident and able performer and enjoy performing your work in  a supportive and positive environment. Please get in touch with any questions and details of what you would like to perform via This is a family friendly event so please do consider this in your choice of material.

‘We Love Ryde’ project launched!

We are thrilled to be involved in a new project in Ryde aimed at helping everyone be part of keeping the town’s streets, beaches and parks free of litter.

The new project,  under the title ‘We Love Ryde’ Litter Lenders will enable local residents and visitors to borrow litter pickers from Ryde Library in a similar way that people borrow books. This means people will be able to get involved in tackling litter and plastic pollution whenever they have time. And it means groups can easily run their own event without having to buy new equipment.

At the same time a new #2minutebeachclean board is being installed on Appley Beach and a #2minutelitterpick board provided in Ryde Town Centre. The boards have everything needed for someone to do a quick two-minute litter pick including litter pickers and bags to put the rubbish in.

The project has been funded by donations from the Goodleaf Tree Climbing Vertical Marathon and Ryde Town Council, and is being overseen by Planet Aware with the support of Ryde Business Association and Ryde Library.

Residents and visitors alike are invited to take time to do a quick beach clean and share their photos using the hashtags; #LitterPickerLenders, #WeLoveRyde and #2MinuteBeachClean.

The Solent Beach Hub

We are excited to have launched The Solent Beach Hub – a web-based information page and events planner for communities running beach cleans and other events celebrating our coast. The Solent Beach Hub is our way of helping the local community showcase the great events that they run to encourage a love of our Solent and Isle of Wight coast.

Are you a community group or charity in the Solent area? Please do get in touch with us with details of your coastal events or fill in the online form. Listings are and will remain free for all not-for-profit groups and charities running free events.

The Solent Beach Hub was launched following a successful bid to Sea Changers and we are very grateful for the support that they have provided for this project. Please do let us have your comments and feedback!

You can find Solent Beach Hub website at

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A beadlet anemone and a daisy anemone found under Ryde Pier.