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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

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    Wayne and Gerardine Hemingways second Festival of Thrift this weekend saw 40,000 people descend on Darlington for a weekend of upcycling, recycling, make do and mend, discothrift and edible manicures. Here are the highlights

    Ive got a spring in my step today. Im energised. Im fresh back from the Festival of Thrift at Lingfield Point: a free, slightly anarchic weekend that gives you licence to unleash your inner Scrooge as long as you show some flair while youre doing it.

    All weekend there have been workshops on everything from pimping your pumps to getting the most out of canned fish (seriously), with fashion shows compered by peerless music-hall star turned hip-hop artist Ida Barr. The weekend raised all sorts of questions, such as: what is thrift about? Saving money or individuality, vintage style or sustainability? In any case, being surrounded by makers and menders is wonderful for your wardrobe. It breaks the chain between fashion and turbocharged capitalism, so you can get excited by other stuff: sewing skills, materials, human ingenuity canned fish. Next year, go there. For now, thrift is a cultural force with staying power. That means it has its own trends. Here are a few I spotted this weekend.

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    As charities like Goodwill and stores like H&M fight for discarded clothes, a growing army of rogue operators snatch up donations

    The US government estimates that about 85% of the textiles that are discarded every year wind up in landfills. As for the rest, the competition for used clothing, linens and towels is intense and its only getting worse. Long-established nonprofits like Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army are facing competitive threats from retailers not to mention a slew of for-profit recyclers, some of whom deploy cutthroat tactics and have questionable reputations.

    Welcome to the clothing bin wars, a battle that comes complete with lawsuits alleging dirty dealing, lobbying of local and state politicians, rogue operators who put bins on other peoples property and even bizarre allegations that some big players in the clothing recycling industry are front groups for a mysterious Danish cult.

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    From shoes inspired by Japanese Shinto temples to grinding old trainers into pellets for running tracks

    A 5,500-year-old leather shoe was discovered in a cave in Armenia in 2010. Recycling experts cant say exactly how long it should normally take a shoe to decompose but their estimate is around 50 years.

    Resistance to composting is just one of many challenges facing designers hoping to reduce the negative environmental impact of shoes, but it is a challenge that designers and footwear companies are taking on.

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    The ethical fashion label TraidRemade has collaborated with Percival menswear and Olivia Hegarty on two limited-edition men and womens collections. Every piece is made in the UK from reclaimed textiles, mainly using pre-consumer waste sources from luxury brands and fashion houses

    Launching at the Percival store, 43 Berwick Street, London, on Thursday 9 October, where it will be available to buy for one night, then online at traidremade.com

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  • 10/13/14--04:19: Bill Tippett obituary
  • My friend, Bill Tippett, who has died aged 70, was a passionate environmentalist who worked for Milliken, the carpet manufacturing giant that aims to produce zero waste, in Britain and the US. He became a world expert on recycling carpet tiles. Until his retirement in 2004, he was director of development at Milliken Carpet Europe and his career spanned many aspects of technology and marketing within the textile industry.

    He was born and brought up in Manchester, the son of Leonard, a statistician, and Ruth, a mathematician. Both parents worked at the Shirley Institute. Bill went to Nottingham University, where he did chemistry alongside my husband, Dick same lab, same supervisor and met his future wife, Sheila. They married in 1966. Our group of mutual friends from university got together twice a year for a week away.

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    Fish leftovers are often turned into meal for animals, but top brands are turning fish skin into leather

    During the past three decades, capture fisheries production has increased from 69m to 93m tonnes, while aquaculture fish production has skyrocketed from 5m to 63m tonnes, the World Bank reports (pdf). With one tonne of fish fillets generally resulting in 40kgs of discarded skin (pdf), thats thousands of tonnes of fish skin that could be put to productive use.

    And much of it already is. Fish leftovers are often ground up and turned into fish meal for animals. But there are more glamorous uses for this byproduct than an ingredient in fish meal paste. With their layered patterns, fish skins possess an elegant quality, and theyre flexible too. Increasingly, they are finding a new life as leather.

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    More political action is needed to reduce waste and improve recycling rates to meet EU targets by 2020, says report by MPs

    Ministers have stepped back from efforts to encourage people to recycle their rubbish just as growth in recycling rates in England has plateaued, MPs have said.

    Householders are still confused over what can and cannot be recycled and only a quarter of them recycle waste correctly, they said.

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    Frequent waste collection and knocking on doors of those who contaminate bins is reducing what goes to landfill

    A report last week by the environment, food and rural affairs committee said more political action is needed in the face of stagnating recycling rates across the UK, with only a quarter of householders recycling correctly.

    Meanwhile some councils are using innovative ideas to boost household recycling. From making food waste collections more frequent than refuse collections, to mechanically sifting black bags to recycle their contents, to knocking on doors of those who contaminate recycling, some are managing to significantly reduce what goes to landfill.

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    Denmark has banned the construction of incineration plants, Scotland is charging for plastic bags and Sweden is aiming to increase its metal recycling

    Last month, the European Commission adopted a zero-waste programme, establishing a legal framework for an EU-wide circular economy. According to the Commission, the framework will boost recycling and prevent the loss of valuable materials; create jobs, economic growth and new business models; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Among its goals are to recycle 70% of municipal waste and 80% of packaging materials by 2030. The Commission estimates that the circular economy can save EU businesses 600bn. And perhaps unsurprisingly, some of its member states are far ahead of the EU in adopting circular economy legislation.

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    Businesses are using circular economy thinking to find radical new ways to repurpose waste and save scarce resources

    Conscious consumers know not to use disposable plastic bottles, or single-use plastic bags, and try to use as little packaging as possible in order to save the planet. A growing number of companies are also developing innovative ways to give waste a second lease of life.

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    Manchester United has pledged to turn its supporters into friends of the environment and its not alone

    Friends argue in a bar about who the best ever conservationist is. Work colleagues passionately unpick Obamas climate change speech as if it were the Super Bowl. Kids in a playground fight over whose turn it is to play Al Gore. These unlikely scenarios feature in a witty online video released earlier this month entitled, If we care about the environment like we care about sports. Of course, we dont. But could we?

    Manchester United seems to think so. In the coming months, the iconic UK football club and powerful global brand has pledged to start communicating messages about energy efficiency and other environmentally-friendly behaviours to its worldwide fanbase.

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    Concerned about dwindling resources and that children inherit a sustainable future? An ongoing campaign could be for you

    Pass to all emergency services. This is a major incident. I repeat; this is a major incident. We require all standby aircraft available, and all available land-based emergency crews as we are in danger of losing Boscastle and all the people in it.

    That was the message to RAF Kinloss Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) from Capt Pete McLelland (Royal Marines) flying above Boscastle, on 16 August 2004. On that day one of Britains worst rainstorms was unleashed on the hills above Boscastle, and I was standing in the village holding my three-year-old daughter in my arms. Its a strange thing when you wonder whether youll ever see your husband alive again. Weird thoughts go through your head. My thoughts seemed quite logical I believed, rightly or wrongly, that everything Id read about climate change was happening. Not in 50 years time, but now. And in that moment, I decided to be part of the solution for my daughters sake.

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    Eric Pickles has plumped for the 'carrot', rather than 'stick', approach by rewarding households that recycle more with shopping vouchers, in lieu of 'draconian fines'. Would it encourage you? Continue reading...

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    City links: This weeks best city stories explore a surprising transit initiative in China, successful green activism in Beirut and reveal the city that tweets more than any other

    The best city stories from around the web this week take a look at Beijings incentives for recycling, campaigns for green space in Beirut, Jakartas winning Twitter activity and bio-cities of the future.

    Wed love to hear your responses to these stories and any others youve read recently, both at Guardian Cities and elsewhere: share your thoughts in the comments below.

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    This month its all about community and were challenging you to get involved with projects in your local area or to even set up one of your own

    Its official! Youre now part of the Live Better Challenge.

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    Patrick Barkham took up this months Live Better challenge to get involved. How did he do on Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm?

    Ooh, youve taken a lot on, exclaimed the old boys on the neighbouring allotment when they came to inspect Joanne Mudhars new patch. Joanne had worked her way up from one allotment to two and then a few acres, and was now the proud and slightly baffled owner of a 12-acre wheat field on the edge of Ipswich.

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    Carlene Thomas-Bailey couldnt even identify a bike pump when she went along to a Broken Spoke Co-op workshop (the second in our community project series). Did she work it out?

    How to set up your own bike repair co-op

    Its raining and Im standing in Oxford holding up a bike that has seen better days. I have the front wheel in one hand, and the rest of the bike, flat tyres and all, in the other hand.

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    The Broken Spoke Co-operative is the second in our series on community projects; heres how they set up, and information about how you can do the same

    Carlene Bailey-Thomas went along to a repair workshop - what did she learn?

    Established: June 2012, opening doors to the public the following December

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    Despite good intentions, only half of plastic bottles in Britain and France are recycled. Creativity is needed to change habits

    Government, industry and consumers in the developed world have known about the environmental and financial benefits of recycling for well over a generation. Yet its not something everyone does despite knowing they should.

    In fact, while three-quarters of British and French consumers say they always recycle plastic bottles at home, recycling rates in these countries still fall short, with only around half of all plastic bottles being returned for recycling. So why is it seemingly so difficult to recycle?

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    Kilfinan Community Forest in Argyll, Scotland trades in timber and teaches visitors sustainability, forest and woodworking skills

    Some people, says Rob Borruso, are more squeamish about chopping trees than they are about killing chickens. Watching a log being fed into the sawblade, I can understand why.

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