Croydon Environmental Fair 2018 in Wandle Park


By - Monday 18th June, 2018

A ten-minute walk away from Croydon town centre, all was green – and a bit too peaceful


Photo author’s own.

On Saturday 9th June Croydon’s greenest citizens held the borough’s eighth Environmental Fair in the serene surroundings of Wandle Park.

Enthusiastic representatives from Croydon Saffron Central, the Friends of Wandle Park, West Croydon’s Our Green Mile, Croydon Community Connectors, Friends of the Earth, Croydon Amnesty, the Spinal Health Centre, Croydon Ponds Project, Croydon Fairtrade and Rainforest Saver had set up their stalls, and visitors could browse Brand Candles and creatively recycled goods from Croydon Re-Use. (These included bags made from promotional vinyls and a range of products – Kindle holders, credit card holders, more bags – that started life as inner tubes. Watch out for more on the #bannerstobags project in the Citizen soon.)

Refreshments, including Pimms, were supplied by outlets including Monster Chefs, Samantha’s Kitchen and the Wandle Café, and yes, the cups were recyclable. Freedom of Expression laid on live music in the bandstand. In the space and quiet of Wandle Park, drinks could be sipped and visitors could linger and listen in the warm golden light, as quite a few did.

This is all very well, but it won’t save the world

Sure, the sight of seabirds trapped in plastic and dead whales with their guts full of garbage and islands of crap three time the size of France drifting out in the Pacific makes us feel so helpless and scared that lots of us can’t bear to know. That’s exactly why campaigners who want to fight all this need to get in people’s faces, showing us the ways that we can help. 

Recycled vinyl bag by Croydon Re-use.
Photo (and bag) author’s own.

So the first problem here is the location.

The Environmental Fair started life in North End among the crowds of Saturday shoppers. Then it moved to Wandle Park – a fabulous festival venue, but the fair’s about outreach. You know where it ought to be? Boxpark.

A bit of a culture clash… but what’s the point in preaching to the choir? The green message matters, so get it out there with the grime music playing and the hipsters and their wannabes sipping beetroot lattes. They’d buy those cool and stylish recycled vinyl bags – just look at the success of the recent Made in Croydon market. Seeing them might even inspire people. How about a change of venue in 2019?

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Writer and editor. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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  • blath8@googlemail.com

    Absolutely – location, location, location! Wandle park is gorgeous but can’t match the centre of Croydon for footfall – at least not yet.

    I do remember though, the difficulties that the organisers had to contend with when the Environment Fair was in the town centre, not least of which were health and safety regulations. Even getting decent signage was an issue. A wry smile perhaps, but it didn’t take long for the original fair in Lloyd Park to grow into something huge.

    No matter the location, volunteers at the Croydon Real Nappy Network stall (soon to expand to cover all of South London) could observe a wonderful array of facial expressions and body language as passers-by realised what was on display. Washable products instead of disposable items (or ‘single-use’ as they now have to be called) would seem to be a no-brainer when it comes to reducing the volume of waste produced by households. When you engage in conversation on the topic, pretty much everyone gets it, but once that flicker of recognition crosses their faces they either speed up or reverse away. Let’s pretend we didn’t see that.

    It takes as little longer for many to twig what the washable sanitary products are, and those facial expressions are priceless :-) . Even so, they then know that such a product exists, and that’s the first step.

    The current media storm about various plastic items is fantastic and with alternative products/packaging etc being actively sought out, change is coming. Why would you put chemical-laden products on a baby? Now, why not go and check out how cute and colourful and effective the washable nappies are?