Plastic-free adventures: SodaStream

Our endeavours to cut down on single-use plastics coming over the doorstop as part of Say No To Plastic In Faversham Week continues with our moving away from buying carbonated drinks, and making our own using a SodaStream carbonator and syrups. These allow customers to create their own carbonated water and flavoured drinks (there’s a rumour that one can even create Prosecco-style drinks using white wine, although we’ve not tested this theory. Yet…).

Instead of buying individual bottles of fizzy drink, which invariably come in plastic bottles, we are using filtered tap-water which is then carbonated by the SodaStream device as required. This reduces both the number of plastic bottles coming into the home, but also saves money – we’re not paying petrol costs on transporting a boot-load of two-litre bottles of lemonade, Coca-Cola, tonic water and sparking water each shopping trip; and we are pouring away less liquids that have gone flat.

Get busy with the fizzy…

Additionally, the carbon cylinders can be re-charged at most stores which sell SodaStream products, reducing the cost of manufacturing additional cylinders. The customer also benefits by getting an average of £10 back when returning a cylinder at the point of purchasing a new one (the Range currently offers this facility on recharged cylinders retailing at £18.99). It’s not possible to get away entirely from plastic containers, as the syrups come in such bottles, but the syrup-bottles are smaller (concentrated products) and we are purchasing fewer of them compared to buying 2-litre bottles of fizzy drink. Each carbonating cylinder costing £9 (with the £10 cylinder return by the customer) boasts that it can carbonate 60 litres of water, which means we are bringing home at least 29 fewer plastic bottles (assuming each bottle is a two-litre bottle); each litre therefore costs a mere 15p, compared to on average £1.50 for a branded two-litre bottle of drink. Factoring in the cost of a syrup bottle (£4) which flavours approx 8 litres, that works out at 50p/litre – overall, then, the combined costs-per-litre is 65p, but there are reduced transport costs and little packaging consumption impacting on the environment.

So, on balance, a saving of 20p on a two-litre bottle and significantly fewer plastic bottles coming into the kitchen. (And we run out of tonic far less often than before, always a risk in our household…). A small but significant way of making a difference…

No Plastic ? Fantastic! Making a difference this week

It’s ‘Say No To Plastic Week’ in the Market Town of Kings all this week, as Faversham makes a difference to levels of plastic pollution.

Between 18 – 24 February, we’re being encouraged to re-use, recycle or simply take measures to reduce the levels of plastic our households consume; with heart-rending videos of high levels of plastic filling the world’s oceans going viral on social media, now’s the time to assess how we can make a difference. With news this week that China is no longer taking plastic from the UK for recycling, it’s only going to become increasingly important that we do what we can; and it all begins at grass-roots level, with movements like Say No To Plastic raising awareness, sharing alternatives and skills, and lobbying local businesses and companies to take part. Here’s a few of the ways we’re going to be contributing to the week.

Recycling aluminium trays: all those trays that come bearing fresh meats can easily be washed and re-used, it saves on consumption of aluminium foil.

Soap-nuts from India are an organic, natural detergent that are a great alternative to laundry detergent (and also means avoiding purchasing plastic bottles / containers in which it is packaged). The Salveo ones are allergy-free and kind to skin, and are cultivated through sustainable agriculture. The sacks come with cotton drawstring bags for placing in with your washing, so there’s no need to wander around the kitchen looking for those errant plastic mini-tubs under the chairs and table any more either…Beeswax wraps; these are made from cotton material (off-cuts or any suitably-sized piece), onto which one irons small beeswax beads, to make a durable alternative to cling-film. The wax-coated cotton wraps can be readily laundered, and are great for keeping food fresh in the fridge or taking your sandwiches to work instead of using plastic tupperware.

And just to show how easy making these wraps is, here’s Madam Forum with a short vlog following her first attempt to make one herself (the cotton used here comes from the excellent The Fabric Man, a stall at Faversham market on Saturdays)…

Loose-leaf tea; it came as something of a shock to realise that tea-bags are made using plastic and as such aren’t always readily recyclable. Instead, use loose-leaf tea – and actually create a much more flavoursome cuppa into the bargain…

Homemade soaps: instead of buying plastic- or paper-wrapped bars of soap, it’s possible to make your own using a pre-made base made from shea butter and oatmeal, which you melt and pour into a suitable mould combined with your favourite essential oils. Ours came from The Soap Kitchen.

Yesterday, the team behind the Faversham initiative were busy at a stall in the market-place, sharing ideas and encouraging people to make a pledge, written onto a paper leaf and attached to an ever-growing pledge-tree; the tree was festooned with leaves, a sign that many are really getting behind the initiative.

On Wednesday this week (21 Feb), there is a drop-in event in the Fleur de Lys centre off Gatefield Lane in Faversham, where between 3-8.30pm people can can find out about a variety of ideas for combatting plastic consumption, share their ideas and skills and find out more about how to get involved.

Click to enlarge

We’ve made our pledge, and are looking forward to taking part in the skills-sharing event on Wednesday. It’s projects like this, started by volunteers with a passion and commitment towards protecting the environment and preserving it for future generations, that can really make a difference, and make big business and politicians sit up and take notice of customer power (Faversham’s own MP, Helen Whately, is also getting involved this week) and the concerted will of consumers to make a change.

Of course, it’s taken as read that we are all assiduous in our household recycling habits; the real cultural shift, and the next stage in our domestic environmental thinking, concerns making efforts to ensure that even those products that can be recycled aren’t making their way over our doorsteps in the first place. Make sure you’re involved this week, and make a difference to your environment. Find out more about the project on Facebook here or follow updates on its Twitter page here.


Food for thought: annual Faversham Food Festival to whet your taste-buds

Foodies are in for a treat next week, as the annual Faversham Food Festival returns to the Market Town of Kings from 16 – 18 September.


Celebrating the best of locally-produced food and drink, the festival, this year the festival also includes the Ale Trail, a new venture inviting you to explore the beers and pubs of Faversham. Amongst a rich plethora of tempting events, the market will be offering food tastings, demonstrations and talks; St Mary’s church will host stalls and tea and cake; live jazz in the Abbey Physic Community Garden, followed by a Teddy Bear’s Picnic; local MP Helen Whateley will be presenting the festival’s Food Hero Award during a dinner at the Phoenix Tavern; champagne-tasting at the Creek Hotel; and a Gala Dinner at the Red Sails Restaurant. You can also vote for your favourite sausage on the Sausage Trail.

Details about all these and more can be found on the festival’s website here, or you can download the brochure here;  between 16-18 September, there’ll be something to really get your teeth into…

Hop to the first Hop Fest Fringe this weekend

This year, for the first time, Faversham’s Arden Theatre will be bursting with stand-up comedy, spoken word, poetry, theatre and more in the first Hop Fest Fringe.

Better Together: at the Hop Fest Fringe

From 2 – 4 September, alongside the annual Hop Festival, the Arden will froth with creative life, including ancillary events such as ‘Prose at the Purifier’ bringing theatre and poetry to the Purifier Building. Family-friendly events include ‘The Little Girl Who Was Sold With The Pears’ as a double-bill with ‘Baby,’ a dance-theatre performance using pop music to explore the joys of pregnancy and motherhood.

‘Better Together’ uses slapstick, acrobatics and physical comedy as it asks how you become best friends with someone, while ‘Water-Watcher’ weaves folk, fable, alchemy and ancient rites through spoken word as it investigates the north Kent coast.

hopfestfringe-logoFind out more about all these events here; tickets are a mere snip at £5 each, and the Hop Fest Fringe runs from Friday 2 to Sunday 3 September. Toi toi toi to the first Fringe Fest!

Are Faversham residents stressed ?

A report in the Canterbury Times indicates that, according to a recent survey, experts have found Swale residents to be ‘anxious, depressed and temperamental.’

A team of psychologists has ranked 380 council areas according to how around 400,000 people assessed their key personality traits, and found residents of the Swale and Maidstone districts display high levels of neuroticism, although Faversham residents also rank highly in being conscientious.

oare_2If this is true, we need to do more to remind ourselves of the plentiful leisure opportunities Faversham affords – the Recreation ground, Oare Nature Reserve, Faversham Pools which has recently won a refurbishment grant of £150,000 – as well as its art galleries, cafés and restaurants, the Royal Cinema, the Arden Theatre, and its coastal proximity. Seasalter and Whitstable are but a step away, rural areas for walking and cycling including the Saxon Shore coastal trail; and every so often the town bursts into vigorous life with one festival or another – the Hat Festival, the Hop Festival, the vintage Transport Vehicle Weekend. For a town that’s supposed to be depressed, you can usually find it celebrating something!

Whilst the pace of life can often be frantic in the Digital Age, let’s also remember that you can find plenty to enjoy in Faversham. There are areas that give residents cause for concern, certainly; congestion around Abbey Street, the unpredictability of travelling by South East trains, the need for more buses – but there’s much to enjoy too.

Read the story online here.

Hold onto your hats! Hat Festival set to return

It’s all happening with head-gear next month, as preparations are underway for the second Faversham Hat Festival.

Following the successful inaugural hat festival last Easter, which featured a parade in West Street led by the town crier, a lady stilt-walker and a wandering minstrel, the festival is set to return next month and promises to be bigger and better when it bursts into life on Saturday 4 April to set Faversham’s street thronging.

Hat Shop posterThe brain-child of Rachel, proprietor of the Hat Shop along West Street, this year the event will see the parade from West Street to the Alexander Centre kicking off a day of lively events including live music, all coming to a head in the magnificent Assembly Rooms at 7.30pm with a Hatter’s Dance featuring live jazz from the KD Jazz and Dance Orchestra and cocktails by Kent-based liquers-makers, MightyFineThings.

“Everyone had a lot of fun last year, so we are going to do it again this year!” enthuses Rachel, as I caught up with her in her wonderfully bijou shop, artfully arrayed with all manner of vintage head-gear that enthusiasts will love; her shop feels less like a retail space and more like a gallery exhibition, such is the care and loving detail which has gone into its presentation. “We’re encouraging everyone to come out in a hat and join us in the West Street Hat Parade, leaving here at 11 o’clock sharp.  The parade will walk up to the Alexander Centre main  and be greeted by The Fleur Singers singing hats songs on-stage –  they were wonderful last year, so do come and hear them sing! Then the competitions judging will begin.” Prizes will be donated by a selection of local businesses, and will include whacky criteria such as ‘Best Hatted Dog,’ ‘Best Innovative Fantastical Hat’ and (very topically) ‘Best Magna Carta 800 Hat!’

Prior to the festival, there will be hat-making workshops in schools as well as an all-day free drop-in hat making workshop for children in the Guildhall on Good Friday, led by a qualified teacher and artist from 10am – 3pm.

HatFestival KDJazzRachel’s passion for the festival is infectious, and it’s easy to see why; it’s very much a community event, bringing together local business, artists and musicians, with plenty of activities for young children and families at its heart. “I started the festival last year, shortly after opening the shop – boy, it was hard work! But it was a fantastic event, really well supported by the local community, and I’m hoping even more people will come this year.”

“Come on, everyone,” Rachel says as she flourishes her own stylish head-piece, eyes alight with enthusiasm, “this is a community event, created by the community for the community; come and join us in wearing your hat – bought or handmade, we don’t mind! – and have fun!”

For more information contact Rachel at The Hat Shop, West Street, Faversham,, or tel: 01795 227071; you can also follow The Hat Shop on Twitter.

All About That Place: celebrating Faversham

We’re pleased to say that the first in a series of guest posts for Keep It In Kent has been published recently.

‘All About That Place’ introduces the ‘stronghold by the clear stream,’ and over the series will be exploring aspects of the history, community, heritage, arts and leisure opportunities afforded by the Market Town of Kings.

Read the first post here.