How Proper Job started

In 1993 a group of allotment holders launched a community composting project. They wanted to compost garden clippings going to landfill and create a local recycling facility for other items. All were committed to principles of zero waste and environmental sustainability. The rural skip service was being filled up with many reusable/recyclable and compostable items and the nearest recycling centres were 15 and 22 miles distant. The group started their activities around these skips that came to the village each month and took out or diverted as much compostable and useful stuff as possible.

They started making their own compost on an allotment space, and leafleted local residents to test interest in their activities. There was a good response and a small group of volunteers formed to produce the compost, working one weekend a month during skip weekends. Later the group started a collection round to include food waste but this had to be curtailed because of new regulations.

Proper Job Limited was set up in 1995, describing itself as "a community business committed to principles of sustainability and helping to create jobs". Plans had already developed to find a permanent site for larger scale compost production which would be funded in part by selling off surpluses. This was included in a broader development plan, which encompassed a holistic vision embracing the concept of healthy community achieved through the principles of community involvement and participation, with recycling as a central feature.

Specific proposals included -

  • Obtaining a permanent site for a Resource Centre for recycling, training and vegetable growing
  • Opening a wholefood community shop and café.

The plan was implemented over the next 5 years, financed by funding grants and a supporter who provided premises, fittings and equipment at a deferred rental. Supporters in the community also loaned money to enable the purchase of the initial stock for the shop/café.