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Categories: Community   

PART 2: The circular economy is a vibe!

Part 2 of this blog series zooms in on circularity initiatives right here in Reading, many of them part of bigger movements like the Repair Café Foundation, the Library of Things movement, and organised forms of bartering.

Repairing, sharing, recycling and re-using may seem like boring little things in the fight against climate collapse…but stay with us! The circular economy is a vibe.

Connect Reading

Our town is lucky to have Connect Reading, a cross-sector network organisation that specialises in bringing people together to share resources, ideas, challenges, information, space and learning. Two of their circular economy initiatives are Resource Xchange and Reading R.E.S.C.U.E. (Rivers & Environmental Spaces Clean Up Event).

  • The Resource Xchange brokers unwanted resources from businesses into charities, schools, hospitals and non-profits – including furniture, computers, stationery and other useful items.
  • Between 2019 and 2023 Resource Xchange helped third sector organisations save £270,683 and prevented 556 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere – by reusing items that local businesses no longer needed.
  • Connect Reading has also coordinated clean-up events for over two decades.
  • At its peak, Reading R.E.S.C.U.E. had up to 500 volunteers removing around 7 tonnes of rubbish from our local rivers every year.

How to get involved: 

  • If you have a need or an offer, find out how Resource Xchange works here.
  • Connect Reading would love to grow Resource Xchange to make an even bigger impact. If you have ideas for collaborating or funding, please get in touch with Connect Reading directly.
  • Connect Reading is also looking for new businesses to get involved in river and green spaces clean-ups. Please get in touch with them directly to get your team involved in this team-building activity.

Reading Repair Café

Have you heard of the Reading Repair Café?

It’s run by volunteers who will do their best to fix your broken toasters, electronics, mechanical items, clothes, computers, toys, furniture or tools – for free. (Donations are welcome if you can afford it.)

You can also bring repairs you want to do yourself or craft projects, and you’ll find a friendly helpful bunch ready to help. There’s usually tea and homemade cake too.

How to get involved:

The Reading Repair Café events are held on the third weekend of every month at either:

  • Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) 35-39 London Street, RG1 4PS or at
  • rLab Reading Hackspace, Weldale Street Reading RG1 7BX (opposite the Farmers’ Market).

Visit or follow their Facebook page to get information about where and when each month’s event will take place. Email repaircafe@transitionreading.org.uk to get involved or offer support.

Repair Cafés are actually a global phenomenon; there are thousands worldwide helping people to become more ‘circular’ in their everyday lives. Find out more about the Repair Café Foundation.

Reading Library of Things (R-LOT)

The Reading Library of Things is brand new and anyone can join. Currently the library has hundreds of tools as well as a projector, screen, gazebo, bike trailers, dog cage, ramps and a sewing machine.

How to get involved:

  • Browse Reading Library of Things and make a reservation to borrow a Thing.
  • Collect your Thing. Use it. Return it when you’re done.

Donations:  How many of us have tools and devices we barely use? A Library of Things allows you to donate these things and still have access to them when you need them, and at the same time have access to lots of other Things.

The founders are looking for small grants to purchase the following, or donations of these items: pressure washer; bench grinder; carpet cleaner; 1m level; trolley; wheel barrow; pick; shovel; battery power tools; bike trailers; hop-ups; wallpaper stripper; roof bars; vice; bar clamps; hammer drills; drill bit sets; stud finder; gardening tools; and a thermal imager.

Explore the  Reading Library of Things. 

Local Exchange Trading System (LETS)

“Good Neighbours Trading Favours”

“We do things for each other and pay in our own currency called ‘Bricks’. Everyone’s time is valued at 20 Bricks per hour,” says Gabrielle Stanley, a member of the Bracknell LETS, which covers most of Berkshire, including Reading.

LETS was pioneered in Canada but like other initiatives described above, it now operates worldwide. In our local LETS people exchange things like pet sitting, allotment produce, alterations and mending, odd jobs, collecting prescriptions – or anything else you can think of!

How to get involved

  • Trading: Browse the current offers here. You’ll need to become a member to start trading.
  • Meetings & help using the trading system:  There are meetings at 7pm on the first Wednesday of each month at Foxes Den Café, Benetfeld Road, Binfield, RG42 4EW. There is a car park and wifi, so you can get some help to use the system and get a login if you need one.

Any queries please write to gabrielle.stanley@ntlworld.com

What circularity actions make the biggest difference?

Construction offers one of the biggest opportunities to make an impact on climate change – largely because there is so much waste, so little compliance and so much room for improvement. As an industry, construction consumes over 40% of the world’s raw resources and accounts for over 40% of landfill waste.

In the UK, another big lever is ‘right to repair’ legislation. Support legislation that outlaws built-in obsolescence here: UK Repair and Reuse Declaration.

Net zero by 2030

Reading’s big climate goal is to stop contributing to global heating (i.e. to be net-zero) by 2030. Getting circular is one of the many ways we can improve our chances of hitting our goal.

PART 3…

The next edition of this series will look at who is doing what about nature and biodiversity in Reading… Let us know about projects to include and people to talk to! To get Part 3 straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up to our newsletter.

To view the entire series go to Blog Series: Who’s doing what about climate in Reading?


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