Trish Pargeter: A Tribute from GUT

Greener Upon Thames was very sad last week to hear of the death of Trish Pargeter, a key member of our team. We share some happy memories here. 

Trish was a Greener upon Thames Founding member and Trustee playing a vital role in this, our South West London based environmental organisation. On Thursday 12th March Trish sadly lost her long battle with cancer, dying surrounded by her close family and friends. Determined to make a difference, Trish certainly did, spending much of her time meeting and planning with Mike, Chairman of Greener. She was very good at organising events and inviting as many people as possible to ensure a great turn out. I remember one fun mammoth wine-buying jaunt in which Trish couldn’t remember her pin. Luckily being a trustworthy person the sommelier allowed her to pay with the card manually which is rare these days. We left with the goods and Trish was relieved and happy. Our fundraising event was a great success, and the wine much appreciated.

Trish Pargeter campaigning to end plastic bags
Trish Pargeter campaigning to end plastic bags

Trish was a crucial part of the process of making and maintaining excellent links with other like-minded environmental organisations; The Marine Conservation Society, Keep Britain Tidy, The Campaign To Protect Rural England, Surfers Against Sewage and Thames 21, Eco Tales and in America, 5 Gyres and One More Generation. In 2013 Greener upon Thames was very proud to join The Break The Bag Habit Coalition of which many of the above are also members. Always fun to be around and game for a laugh, Trish’s skills included wearing the ‘Bag Monster’ costume made up of over one hundred plastic bags joined together.

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The costume doesn’t do much for ones’s vanity but it draws attention to the importance to rethink, reduce, re-use, upscale and recycle Plastic. This ubiquitous throw-away totem item, the plastic bag, represents the tip of the plastic landfill mountain And is a good place to start when aiming to reduce plastic use. As well as being unsightly in our landscapes, the bags often go into the Sewage system ending up in the sea and being mistaken for food by marine animals which then go on to die in some cases. Animals also suffer from getting trapped inches on land too. The plastic does not biodegrade but photodegrades into smaller and smaller particles, working up the food chain and ending up on our dinner plates. That’s why as a team we wanted to take our plight to parliament and in Spring of 2013 we teamed up with Eco Tales and the children of Stanley Primary School in Surrey And set up stall infringement of the Houses of  Parliament one sunny day and then went with the children to meet the Prime Minister David Cameron. We’d like to think our combined efforts went some way to influencing their decision that day to introduce a charge on plastic bags that comes in this October, 2015. It’s what Trish and the Greener team campaigned for for years, so  its a big step forward and we are really glad this was decided in Trish’s lifetime so she knew her hard work and dedication had paid off. However, the larger scale plastic pollution problem continues and as Trish would say, “It’s not in the bag yet.”

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It’s still not in the bag – a cautious welcome to the new charge

Greener Upon Thames campaigners welcomed the introduction of a carrier bag charge in England in the Queen’s speech on June 4th, but expressed disappointment that it would exclude paper and biodegradable bags and wouldn’t apply to small shops.

A member of the national Break the Bag Habit campaign, GUT believes that the Government has failed to listen to guidance given by every sector asked for advice by announcing that its proposed scheme will exclude small retailers, paper bags and biodegradable bags. The result will be a scheme that is different from the ones in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – confusing for both retailers and consumers.

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and GUT supporter, commented: “Plastic bags are the most obvious, and gratuitous symbols of our throwaway culture, and it’s therefore good news that the Government is bringing in a levy on their use. But as ever, the scheme is vastly overcomplicated. It already works simply and very well in Wales, where plastic bag use has plummeted and where the scheme is popular, and I hope in time the Government will learn from their experiences.”

The bag charge is designed to significantly reduce the 7 billion bags given out every year in England, in turn reducing the incidence of littering and choked wildlife. But with only larger retailers required to take part in the scheme, consumers will find the scheme inconsistent and the small retailers won’t have the chance to reduce their costs…

You can read the full GUT/Break the Bag Habit press release on the Greener Kingston website or our Facebook page.

Retailers and shoppers – you can do better than the Government: you can still sign the Break the Bag Habit pledge and stop using single-use bags – see below.

Or you could write to a newspaper (local or national) or to your MP to support more consistent, inclusive and environmentally-friendly legislation.