As part of Sustainable Wales’ ongoing campaigns regarding the vital issue of plastic pollution here is the text of a letter sent to supermarket management locally and head offices. We will be following up this campaign across 2019 and we will update you with progress reports.

The charity, Sustainable Wales, has urged local supermarket managers and UK bosses to slash their plastic packaging. Research from Greenpeace shows that current supermarket plans are inadequate. (note1)

SW Director, Margaret Minhinnick says: “Plastic-free campaigns are developing UK-wide, but the public cannot be expected to bear the burden alone.”. (e.g. Bridgend Borough Council (lead Cllr Tim Thomas) and also Porthcawl Town Council (lead Cllr Alex Harris, have joined the ‘Surfers Against Sewage plastic-free towns’ campaign.

Sustainable Wales (SW) encourages behavioural change within the community 

We also offer a range of plastic-free, re-fill schemes and remade goods in our shop, SUSSED in Porthcawl.

Indeed, before the introduction of the 5p single use levy by the Welsh Assembly, SW employed a ‘plastic bag free-Bridgend campaign officer’ - working with local traders and the council, also providing evidence to the Welsh Assembly”, added Margaret.

Plaid Cymru Cllr Tim Thomas commented.
"I am always keen to look at innovative ways to reduce our single use plastic and I welcome the initiatives from Sustainable Wales to tackle this problem at source from supermarkets. The public have certainly played their part and many people have changed their behaviour, it's high time large supermarkets reciprocate." 
he continued.

(Note 1)

According to Greenpeace and Environment Investigation Agency (Dec 2018) the top 10 supermarkets collectively put more than 810,000 tonnes of plastic on the market each year. This is in addition to more than 1.1 billion single-use plastic bags, 958 million bags for life and 1.2 billion plastic produce bags for fruit and veg. 

There is also a shortage of plans in place to stem the flood. Most commitments made by supermarkets are weak, with room for improvement, they say.

The league table found that: 

·      Five supermarkets have no specific targets to reduce plastic packaging – Aldi, Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. And of the supermarkets that do have targets, most are moving at such a slow pace that it would take them 20 years to completely rid their shelves of throwaway plastic.  

  • Iceland has the most ambitious reduction targets aiming to get rid of all plastic packaging of its own brands by 2023.

  • Only four supermarkets offer customers some options to use refillable containers. 86% shoppers support the idea of supermarkets moving towards using more refillable and reusable packaging but only Morrisons is showing much promise on it so far. 

  • Greenpeace wants supermarkets to eliminate non-recyclable plastic, like black plastic, by 2019. Most have agreed to do so by 2025. Only four have adopted earlier time frames – M&S and Aldi by 2022; Waitrose and Co-op by 2023. The Co-op currently has the highest proportion of recyclable plastic packaging, at 79%.

More details here 

supermarkets plastics.png

FACTS. The plastic in our oceans could circle the planet 400 times threatening marine ecosystems and contributing to climate change.

Plastics have polluted the oceans to such an extent that no area is left uncontaminated. They originate on land, are transported by wind, rivers and untreated sewerage into the sea due to poor waste management systems.

Plastic fragments but does not biodegrade. They are a symbol of a throwaway culture.

1 in every 10 barrels of oil now used to create new plastic.




by Robert Minhinnick

I was very pleased to celebrate Wales ‘Book of the Year’ 2018 in a creative way. Some of the prize money has been invested in shares in the Ynni Teg wind turbine, officially opened in Meidrim, Carmarthenshire, on September 21.

The turbine itself has been officially named “Geraint Gwyllt”, in honour of cyclist Geraint Thomas, in a competition won by 6 year-old Mali Page.

And no, I didn’t read anything from ‘Diary of the Last Man’. Instead, I chose my version of Menna Elfyn’s ‘Ia Cymru’, which I translate as ‘Welsh Ice’.

Click to enlarge

The poem is about climate change, melting ice, rising tides, and the loss of the Welsh language. This latter is a glacier disappearing before our eyes. Especially appropriate, I thought, as Menna Elfyn lives close by.

Shares can be purchased from:

YnNi Teg: fair energy for Wales | Renewable energy in Wales

Our mission is to help Wales develop a clean energy future and mitigate climate change by installing renewable energy generation, in a fair, democratic way.

Between the Trees, 2018

Between the Trees


It was a pleasure for Sustainable Wales / Cymru Gynaliadwyto participate in this new festival, held over 3 days in August and September, 2018.

Dawn Wood, and partner Andrew, whose brainchild ‘Between the Trees’ is, put in an immense amount of work, first planning, then and carrying out all festival demands. 

But the festival could not have worked without the marvelous support of a wonderful team of volunteers.

Indeed, the whole enterprise was voluntary and unsponsored.

‘Between the Trees’ featured music, film, poetry, craft, science workshops, play areas, and a host of local food suppliers. It proved emphatically child-centred, as family  groups camped out in the woods and dunes, in some cases for three nights.

Robert Minhhinnick  gave a reading from his Wales ‘Book of the Year’ winning volume from Carcanet, ‘Diary of the Last Man’.

Eamon Bourke of Park6 screened his 30 minute film of the same name, some of the poetry from which was written about areas of the Merthyr Mawr/Newton Burrows dunes only a few hundred yards from the festival site.

Local businesses were involved from the outset, not least the new Bridgend-based ‘Bang On’ brewery.

Sustainable Wales spoke to Merthyr Mawr estates manager, Rory McLaggan, during the festival, and he seemed well pleased.

Of course, excellent weather helped hugely!

Rory, Dawn and Andrew hope that ‘Between the Trees’ takes place again, possibly at the equivalent weekend in 2019.

Many people feel ‘Between the Trees’ proved a perfect-sized festival, and trust it does not grow.

With Philip Irwin, of the Gem (who has supplied the images in this article), Robert and Margaret Minhinnick stayed until the festival finale, given by singer Charlotte Church, and up and coming songwriter, Al Lewis.

Thanks to all, but especially Dawn and Andrew. It was a pleasure to be part of your great idea. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn i bawb yn yr wyl!





Sustainable Wales co-founder: watch the trailer for Diary of the Last Man film

Following from Diary of the Last Man winning the Wales Book of the Year award (see our previous blog post), Sustainable Wales co-founder Robert Minhinnick's TS Eliot short listed book has an accompanying film by Park6 Films.

"To create the film, we took a series of expeditions, capturing footage and interviews in and around the landscapes that are important to Robert’s work. Lots of the ideas were developed between us during the filming stage."

‘Diary of the Last Man’ has been screened in Cardiff (Seren Poetry Festival), London (Caught by the River), Ewenni Festival, Bangor, Bristol and the Hay on Wye Literary Festival. Upcoming screenings include the Edge Festival, Solva, August 5th and the Between the Trees Festival, Candleston also in August.

“Park6’s direction and editing are brave and always pertinent. The company is brilliant at interpreting text and mood while its thrilling juxtapositions are capable of enhancing meaning. Never over-stated, ‘Diary of the Last Man’ possesses subtleties and nuances that are discovered only after repeated watching. It was a great experience to work together.”

Robert Minhinnick

Sustainable Wales co-founder wins Wales Book of the Year Award

Robert Minhinnick, Trustee and co-founder of Sustainable Wales has won his third Wales Book of the Year Award for Diary of the Last Man (Carcanet). Diary of the Last Man was shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize last year.

Robert Minhinnick

Robert Minhinnick

"A poet has won his third Wales Book of the Year award for his writings on Brexit and the environment.

Robert Minhinnick, who grew up near Bridgend and studied in Aberystwyth and Cardiff, also won the Roland Mathias Poetry Prize.

His book, a collection of poems called Diary of the Last Man, was described as "environmentalism turned into elegy".

Minhinnick accepted the award and a £4,000 prize at a ceremony run by Literature Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday.

The poet also received a specially commissioned trophy designed and created by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones and presented by the Chair of the Arts Council of Wales Phil George.

"This is environmentalism turned into elegy," said judge Carolyn Hitt." ( BBC News article)

Literature Wales (news item):

Photo by Camera Sioned

Photo by Camera Sioned

"At a glittering Award Ceremony this evening in Cardiff, Robert Minhinnick’s highly acclaimed poetry collection, Diary of the Last Man (Carcanet) was named Wales Book of the Year 2018. The award is run by Literature Wales, the National Company for the development of literature in Wales.

Robert Minhinnick first took to the stage to collect the Roland Mathias Poetry Prize, before returning to be crowned winner of the 2018 Wales Book of the Year Award and receiving the overall prize of £4,000 and a specially commissioned trophy designed and created by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones. The prize was presented to Robert by the Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, Phil George.

Diary of the Last Man is described by the author as a walk across Britain; Brexit Britain, a Britain facing political uncertainty and experiencing change of all kinds, not least climate change. In parts immensely local, in others casting its view abroad, this collection is a celebration of the dwindling Earth, and a caution.

Speaking about Diary of the Last Man, Judge Carolyn Hitt said “This is environmentalism turned into elegy. It’s so powerful, so political. These are serious poems for serious times…that will stay with you and make you think about what we’re doing to the planet.”

This is the third time Robert has won the prestigious Wales Book of the Year Award. His poems have twice won the Forward Prize for ‘best individual poem’, and his winning collection, Diary of the Last Man was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot prize in 2017."

Sustainable Wales co-founder shortlisted for 2017 ts eliot prize

Co-founder, and Charity Secretary, Robert Minhinnick has been shorlisted for the 2017 TS Eliot Prize.


Focus on Shortlisted Poet - Robert Minhinnick

Robert Minhinnick’s poetry has been influenced by his lifelong commitment as an environmental campaigner. He co-founded Friends of the Earth (Cymru) and became the organisation’s joint co-ordinator for some years. He is advisor to the charity, 'Sustainable Wales' and edits the international quarterly, Poetry Wales.

Robert Minhinnick was born in 1952 in South Wales, where he still lives. He is the prize-winning author of four volumes of essays, more than a dozen volumes of poetry and three works of fiction. His poetry collections include The Looters (1989) and Hey Fatman(1994), both Seren. A Selected Poems was published in 1999, followed by After the Hurricane (2002), King Driftwood (2008) and Diary of the Last Man (2017), all published by Carcanet. He has twice won the Forward Prize for Best Poem.


“Robert Minhinnick's new collection confirms his status as one of the most important poets of these turbulent times. Bleakly elegiac, environmentally political, vital and visionary, his poems cast an extraordinary light over our darkening landscapes.”
- Carol Ann Duffy

“I am not vital to this world’, Robert Minhinnick declares in Diary of the Last Man. His new poetry collection is a hymn to ‘this world’, as well as a warning about what might happen if we continue to abuse our natural surroundings.  It is also a complex meditation on the idea of home and belonging, explored through carefully crafted, and often extremely beautiful, poems. The first of these, a poem sequence, lends the collection its name. In the vein of much speculative fiction, Minhinnick imagines a post-apocalyptic world in which only a few people have survived…

“It is in observing these cycles of sea and river, human and animal, that Minhinnick most excels, and his collection as a whole is beautifully and acoustically attuned to what is most precious in our lives and around us.’
New Welsh Review

“Minhinnick is one of the few poets who writes about a dockyard or a hedgerow with equal authority... A friend of mine once said that he liked to think of R.S.Thomas as ‘just being there’: outside the media hubbub, steadily producing wonderful poems. Although Minhinnick's considerably younger, and more cosmopolitan in scope, I'd say the same about him.”
- Poetry London


You can catch up on our video interviews and readings with Tara Bergin, Caroline Bird, Douglas Dunn, Leontia Flynn and Roddy Lumsden on the T. S. Eliot Prize website.


Poetry from Diary of the Last Man


for Howard Bailey

All that’s in my head is in my head.
Try to notice Neptune, the poet said,

but there’s a mist outside, white on a white sky,
warm air across cold sea, turning the world invisible.

Morphine is a sister, is a saint.
In our blood and history they’ll trace the taint,

while all I see is the needle plunge,
or the golden-green, green-golden

draught in the eye-dropper
turning the world invisible.

Now a waitress brings the tables in.
I ask her for a napkin

and she comes across to the only customer
talking to himself and writing signs

like the moon and stars, the comet’s lines,
as if they could light up the gloom,

or the churning fret that hides the Seagull Room
and turns the world invisible.

I’m just the latest mad bastard to make her day.
But don’t worry, I’m not going to stay.

Yet all this dark matter is in my head,
and Howard, now you are forever dead,

and morphine’s still a sister and a saint
and an executioner. Too early for a cool carafe?
Let this eye-white fog then be your epitaph.

John Field Reviews the Shortlist: Robert Minhinnick

For the 2017 Prize, we’ve asked poetry blogger John Field to review the shortlisted titles again. This week, John concludes that Diary of the Last Man “presents an unsentimental, indifferent world, filled with cruelty and atrocity but, while there may be no Jesus in Minhinnick’s geology, there is no shortage of beauty and, filtered through the sands of his language, this beauty is arresting and memorable.”
In Diary of the Last Man, Robert Minhinnick meditates on environmental apocalypse before training his eye on Anglo-American atrocities in Iraq. Finally, he offers translations from Welsh, Arabic and Turkish. Minhinnick’s poems are a virtuoso display: reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins or Dylan Thomas, bringing the sounds of Welsh poetry to English. He also writes with the force and indignation of Shelley’s ‘The Mask of Anarchy’ as he attacks the obscenities of war.

‘The Diary of the Last Man’ is a sequence of 23 poems, perhaps indicating that, for humanity, time is running out and will be cut short. Loneliness and uncertainty dominate as the speaker muses "Perhaps / I am the last man", with the line break highlighting his doubt as he hums his "hymn of sand". Minhinnick suggests the deadness of the world as the sands of time run fast through humanity’s emptying glass. "Hum my hymn of sand" repeats consonants in the same order, akin to Welsh cynghanedd, resulting in an arresting formality and beauty. The collection enjoys a Protean musicality as sounds morph and shift as they sift through Minhinnick’s hourglass: "Slack? / Slake? / Lake? / Meres and mosses and mirrors and mortuaries". Some might see environmental catastrophe as an unmitigated disaster but Minhinnick’s second poem, ‘Snipe’ presents "Two of them, two lines of barbed wire / across the sky, two voices" and, for once, humanity is outnumbered as nature begins to reclaim the planet.

Another sequence, ‘Mouth to Mouth: A Recitation Between Two Rivers’ alternates between prose and poetry and is reminiscent of William Dyce’s painting ‘Pegwell Bay, Kent – a Recollection of October 5th 1858’. Dyce’s figures scuttle, dwarfed by the geological strata in the cliffs and, above, Donati’s comet, with an orbital period of roughly 1,739 years, crosses the sky. Sand, "formal as fossils", drifts through Minhinnick’s poem and its shifting landscape renders it an "unchronicled country". The landscape is indifferent and insatiable as the dunes swallow human history and Minhinnick’s deer echo Ted Hughes’ ‘Roe Deer’: "two shamen praying to the lightning god, / or so they might well be in this unearthly light".
The ‘Amiriya Suite’ memorialises the bombing of an Iraqi public air raid shelter by the United States Air Force in 1991, killing hundreds of civilians. In the first part, end-stopped lines accent the poem’s cutting bitterness: "One body with four hundred souls / is exposed in a photographic flash. / They pick the wedding rings and wisdom teeth / from crematorium ash" and the facts of the event are re-read as obscene ironies: "Think of a smart bomb. / Not so smart". In the rest of the sequence, Minhinnick gives us unrhymed couplets, suggesting that nothing hangs together in a world of lies and sexed-up dossiers, where "a farmer had written nuclear formulae / on the skin of a watermelon".

Towards the end of the collection, his translations of Erozcelick Seyhan invite us to reconsider the temporal sands running through ‘Mouth to Mouth’ and the ‘Amiriya Suite’. Here, "we rise like incense through the sky, / people who become a plume of smoke". The translation echoes Psalm 141, "May my prayer be set before you like incense" but, for Minhinnick, "there is no Jesus in geology" and nature will just have to make do.

Diary of the Last Man presents an unsentimental, indifferent world, filled with cruelty and atrocity but, while there may be no Jesus in Minhinnick’s geology, there is no shortage of beauty and, filtered through the sands of his language, this beauty is arresting and memorable.

Published by Carcanet

Published by Carcanet