NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 2: British fruit: reviving our heritage

In the second of the NFWI resolutions to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, the revival of British fruit in local communities is discussed.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page!

20151212 02 British fruit“This meeting calls on the WI to spearhead a national campaign that creates a fruit revival in local communities, celebrates our WI roots, promotes health, addresses food security and reduces the carbon footprint.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer’s intention is for the WI to get back in touch with our roots by leading a national campaign to revive the consumption, harvesting, and growing of British fruit. The proposer believes we import too much fruit from abroad while British fruit goes to waste and further, that we lack the skills to grow and preserve our own food meaning that Britons are losing touch with British fruit. This resolution seeks to address those gaps while also promoting food security, healthy eating, responsible environmental stewardship, and community cohesion: core WI values.

Outline of the issue

While the UK currently enjoys a high level of food-security, there are some alarming trends.  According to the House of Commons Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee the UK is currently only 68% self-sufficient in foods that can be produced here. This percentage has steadily declined over the last twenty years.

Fruit and vegetables have witnessed the biggest drop in self-sufficiency. For fruit the situation is particularly dire; the UK is only 12% self-sufficient in fruit production. In 2012, the UK imported £8 billion worth of fruit and vegetables and 88% of fresh fruit is imported and that percentage is rising. Most of these imports occur in the out-of-season months (November-June) however for some fruit it remains relatively high even during the height of UK seasonal production.

Fruit production is one key area that experts have identified where the government needs to do more to increase domestic production. However, it is important to note that it would not be in the UK’s interest to become fully self-sufficient in indigenous food as our food security depends on diversity of supply for resilience.

As noted by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the UK’s food security depends on a vibrant, innovative and professional UK farming sector. A number of surveys highlight the growing skills gap in horticulture. In its 2013 report the Horticulture Matters industry group (formed to tackle the skills shortage) highlighted that 72% of horticultural business surveyed could not fill vacancies, 70% of 18-year-olds thought horticultural careers were only for those who were not academic, and 50% of under-25s saw horticulture as an unskilled career. This is concerning for an industry that is facing an ageing workforce.

In 2012, consumers in the UK wasted 1.1 million tonnes of fruit, making fruit the second largest food category in terms of domestic wastage. Therefore, in addition to not growing our own fruit, we are wasting the fruit we do have, both of which have a negative effect on economic growth and the environment.

Not only is this bad news for British growers, but it is also bad for the consumer in terms of taste and nutritional value. As fruits can spoil during transportation due to handling, packaging, and overall journey time, some experts claim that the modifications made to fruit to help them survive the journey lower their nutritional value and can alter their taste. The number one challenge to our food security is the extreme weather events that are caused by climate change. Therefore a solution to secure our food supply is needed that mitigates those risks as well. The global food industry is one of the largest net contributors to green-house gas emissions and a chief contributor to deforestation. Buying locally grown foods can counter those effects.

Arguments for the resolution

• There is a growing skills shortage in the agriculture and horticulture industry which will have a growing impact on the UK’s food security. The NFWI is best placed to promote a revival of education and engagement in the sector.

• One of the principal outcomes from the WI’s Great Food Debates was that people in the UK have lost their connection to food – how it is grown/produced, how it fits within a healthy diet, and what makes a sustainable environment.

• This resolution is a return to the WI’s roots, and has the potential for WIs across the country to mobilise their extensive local networks to bring community members together to teach new skills in food production and harvesting, learn about healthy eating and environmental stewardship, and contribute to the nation’s domestic food supply.

Arguments against the resolution

• This resolution encompasses a number of issues (food production, food security, healthy eating) that the WI is already working on or has recently worked on. Is this resolution redundant?

• This resolution merges a number of complex issues, which may confuse members and stakeholders.

Groups to contact for further information

Incredible Edible Network

Unit 9, The Town Hall, St George’s Street, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7BY

Tel: 0781 8570177



British Growers Association

BGA House, Nottingham Road, Louth, Lincolnshire, LN11 0WB

Tel: 01507 602427




• Food Security, 2014

• Horticulture Matters, 2013

• Food security: demand, consumption and waste. EFRA committee 2015

NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 1: Ban the microbead

In the first of the NFWI resolutions to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, the use of microbeads is debated.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page.

“Beach litter and floating plastic debrisMicrobeads is more than just an unsightly problem. Scientific research shows that plastic microbeads, found in cosmetic and personal care products, are polluting the oceans and causing long- term health risks for both aquatic life and people. We call on WI members to take action to reduce use of plastic microbead-containing products in their own homes and communities; to raise awareness of the problems associated with plastic microbeads; and to lobby manufacturers, retailers and see the UK Government following in the steps of the Netherlands and other countries in proposing a ban on the use of these products.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer’s intention is to highlight the impact of microbeads on marine ecosystems, encourage behaviour change, build consumer pressure on companies to change their practices, and work towards a ban on the use of microbeads in the UK.

Outline of the issue

‘Microbeads’ are microplastic particles that are found in cosmetic and personal care products. Overwhelmingly, they are made of polyethylene (93%) with the rest made of polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polytetrafluoroethylene, and nylon. Natural alternatives to the use of microbeads include oatmeal, sea salt, and ground nutshells. Microbeads measure less than a millimetre wide, which means they cannot be filtered out at water treatment plants and so end up in rivers and oceans.

With each use of products such as facial scrubs releasing up to 100,000 microbeads, recent research by the University of Plymouth estimates that up to 80 tonnes of microbeads could end up entering waterways every year from using such products in the UK alone. Once in the water, the plastic acts like a sponge, soaking up toxins (e.g. pesticides and flame retardants) that have also found their way into the ecosystem, creating a concentrated source of toxic chemicals, which are then eaten by a range of marine organisms (such as commercially important fish and shellfish to baleen whales). Microplastics account for around 10% of all reported ingestion of marine debris, with particular impact on organisms with a range of feeding methods such as filter feeders (mussels and barnacles), deposit feeders (lugworms) and detritivores (sea cucumbers) and zooplankton. Organisms are often confused between microplastics and plankton, especially given the plastic concentration in the water. Basking sharks have been estimated to consume approximately 13,110 microplastic items per day and Mediterranean fin whales approximately 3,653 items.

In the UK, 83% of Norway lobsters (which are often sold as scampi) sampled contained microplastic debris. In the English Channel, 36.5% of sampled fish, including whiting and mackerel, had ingested plastic. In the Mediterranean, plastic ingestion was found in 18.2% of Bluefin tuna and albacore tuna. A range of studies show that adverse effects of microplastic ingestion include decreased feeding, weight loss, decreased energy reserves, compromised fitness, hepatic stress, impaired health, and potentially starvation over time.

This has important implications not just for marine ecosystems but also humans. Healthy oceans are essential for thriving marine ecosystems, livelihoods and economies both in the UK and globally. Additionally, there is growing concern that the microbeads and the toxic chemicals they accumulate are making their way up the food chain to people, with the consequences of this build up for human health largely unknown.

Prevention is key. Once in the marine environment particles react with the ecosystem and become embedded in the seabed, shoreline and plant matter – making clean-up operations labour intensive, time-consuming, and costly. UNEP recommends a precautionary approach toward microplastic management, with the eventual phase out and ban of plastics in cosmetics and personal care products. Public pressure campaigns, such as Beat the Microbead and Scrub it Out, have persuaded many companies to commit to phasing out microplastics. Despite these pledges, campaigners are still calling for legislative action to speed up the process, ensure that commitments are maintained, and provide a level playing field for manufacturers.

There has been some movement in legislating against microbeads in the US, with California being the most recent state to ban microbeads. The Netherlands has announced its intention to be virtually free of microbeads in cosmetics by the end of 2016, Australian policymakers are calling for a formal ban, and in January of this year Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden issued a joint call to ban the use of microplastics in personal care products, with the aim of protecting marine ecosystems, including seafood, from contamination. In the US, there has been resistance to legal bans from certain brands that argue that micro-size plastic in the water supply can come from other byproducts, such as synthetic fabric. In addition, microbeads can be found in some non-cosmetic products and processes. There have also been some concern around the terminology used in the legislation which campaigners are worried might create potential loop-holes. For instance, some bans have qualifying phrases (e.g. “rinse off personal care products”) which exclude a number of products (e.g. deodorants and cleaners).

Arguments for the resolution

• While microbeads are only one aspect of marine litter, due to their presence and quantity in products and their resistance to degradation, their abundance in the ocean is assumed to be increasing. Additionally, this is a type of marine pollution that is avoidable.

• This resolution encompasses a strong role for consumer action, both by bringing pressure to companies that have yet to make a commitment, as well as showing support for those that have. This consumer action fits the WI ethos of practical action.

• This resolution fits within the WI’s longstanding concern for healthy and sustainable marine ecosystems.

Arguments against the resolution

• There are still gaps in research and understanding around the precise impact of microbeads on marine ecosystems.

• This resolution focuses specifically on cosmetic and personal care products, while microbeads can also be found in other products such as paint or sand-blasting.

• While there is a lack of consumer awareness of the problem, campaigns such as Beat the Microbead are growing in success.

Groups to contact for further information

Beat the Microbead (a Plastic Soup Foundation initiative)

Van Hallstraat 52-1, 1051 HH Amsterdam

Tel: +31 (0)85 401 6244



Fauna & Flora International

Jupiter House, 4th Floor, Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2JD

Tel: 1223 571 000

Twitter logo v small@FaunaFloraInt


Marine Conservation Society

Overross House, Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7QQ

Tel: 01989 566017

Twitter logo v small@mcsuk


• NFWI 2016 Annual Meeting Resolution Shortlist Briefings note

• Napper (2015)

• EIA 2015

• Napper 2015

• State of Europe’s seas, 2015

• EIA 2015

• State of Europe’s seas, 2015

• UNEP (2015) Plastic in cosmetics: are we polluting the environment through our personal care Fact sheet


• Rochman, 2015



The Sotonettes Present… NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016!

Hot on the heels of celebrating 100 years, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) has recently unveiled the shortlist of eight new resolutions for NFWI campaigns, to be discussed in 2016.

Now it’s up to Sotonettes members to help select which resolutions go forward to the 2016 NFWI Annual Meeting, as each WI across the country will be collecting votes from members and submitting them to the local federations. These votes in turn will be passed to the NFWI, who are keen to refresh the resolutions process after the outcome of the 2015 AGM.

To help Sotonettes members decide, we will be publishing the details of one resolution per day between today and the next Sotonettes main meeting on 15 December at The Slug & Lettuce, Above Bar, Southampton. We’ll be discussing these resolutions further at the main meeting, and there will also be an opportunity to cast your vote. You can also download a helpful Sotonettes guide on the whole process here!

If you are a Sotonettes member but you can’t make December’s main meeting, or if you have any queries about the resolutions process and how your vote counts, email or drop us a line on our Facebook page!

The shortlist of resolution titles for 2016 is:

  1. Ban the microbead
  2. British fruit: reviving our heritage
  3. Free sanitary protection for homeless women
  4. Prevention of sudden cardiac death in young adults in the UK
  5. First aid to save lives
  6. Mind or body – equal funding for care
  7. Avoid food waste, address food poverty
  8. Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia

We look forward to hearing your opinions and receiving your votes!

Love, The Sotonettes Committee


Centenary of Portswood Library

Portswood Library, part of Southampton City Libraries @sotonlibraries, will be celebrating its
centenary on Thursday 22 October, and Sotonettes members have been invited to join the festivities.

There will be an exciting programme of activities and events for children and adults, with special guests, stories, crafts and lots more to be announced.
To help with the celebrations there will be a display featuring the memories and stories of library users. Do you have an amusing story/anecdote you would like to share about the library? Or did you achieve something special or discover a new skill with the help of the library? It can be anything. Whatever it is, Portswood Library would love to hear from you!

Send your reminiscences to or hand them to staff at Portswood library, Portswood Road, SO17 2NG.

Photographs courtesy of Friends of Portswood Library.

Update: The NFWI Annual Meeting 2015


The Royal Albert Hall

The National Federation of Women’s Institutes held its Centenary Annual Meeting at the Royal Albert Hall on 4 June 2015. The NFWI website has now been updated ( with the speeches and photos from the day. Also included is a link to watch the broadcast of that special day (registration required).

In addition, Pam Allen of Bitterne WI has sent us her report as delegate at this event – attached below.

We’ll keep you posted with any further updates!



WI Campaigning – Interesting Listening

For anyone interested in the WI’s campaigns, there have been a few interesting and topical public discussions over the last few days.

Maternity Services:
In relation to increasing the number of midwives and improving maternity care I’ve noticed lots of discussions on social networks about personal experiences of labour at home, in birthing units and in the labour ward. Recent research on the birthplace has sparked a lot of interesting discussion of experiences and opinions on giving birth. Radio 4’s You and Yours did a feature on Where should you have your baby?, BBC News have written about the undue pressure to give birth naturally  and there’s also the WI’s More Midwives Campaign. All interesting food for thought.

Everyone’s experience is different, as is everyone’s opinion, and part of campaigning with the WI is about taking experience and opinion and trying to make a difference.

Although not an official WI campaign, the legalisation of prostitution is always a topic to inspire discussion. This was a Hampshire WI Resolution. A recent episode of the Public Philosopher in the Netherlands discusses with an audience morality and the state focusing on the idea of a liberal society, prostitution, cannabis and euthanasia. An interesting listen if anyone is curious.

If you are interested in getting more involved in campaigning or proposing a resolution on something you’re passionate about let us know. It doesn’t have to be detailed, just an idea. Let us know we might be able to help, and one day your cause might be the subject of journalistic interest too!