Darren Potter and Deborah Parker are the co-founders and managers of Complete Wasters Co-operative.
The idea for Complete Wasters was formed in 1996 as Darren and Deborah were collecting cans at a festival at De Montfort Hall . “It seemed like a good idea at the time, wandering around collecting cans in between the music acts in the sun. Now, of course it is a different beast, often needing management of up to 50 volunteers at a festival. My job is very varied; one day I could be running a craft workshop for a school or hosting a green birthday party in our yurt in the garden. The next day could see us all loading a truck with scrap computers for recycling and getting covered in ink from a leaky printer. Ah, happy days!”
Tell us about your co-operative
Complete Wasters run a range of environmental projects which include;
The Green Place- a place to visit to learn about environmental management. We have a fair-trade café, an ethical and eco friendly gift shop, an organic garden and a recycled computer shop.
We regularly hold workshops and kids craft days as well as events for adults including willow weaving and plant swaps.
We have an events recycling service aiming to “green up” many festivals and concerts by organising a comprehensive waste reduction and recycling service. This has lead to awards for the Summer Sundae Weekender and Big Session Festivals.
We also offer a computer refurbishing service, taking redundant IT equipment from business and reselling at low cost to the community.
Why did you choose the co-operative business model?
The cooperative model seemed a good fit for our environmental, ethical and social aims.
It’s really rewarding to be able to be in charge of our own destiny. In traditional management structures, decisions can be taken away from the people doing the work, so you have no control over how you make your business grow. We decide what we want to do, and with hard work from the team, make it happen or we fall on our backsides, which we all do from time to time.
A big push for us becoming a co-op was the helpful advice and warm welcome we received from the CDA (as it was then called) and in particular Dorothy Francis. After being told by Business Link that there was no such thing as a business that ran for anything other that profit making purposes, it was a breath of fresh air to speak to like-minded people at the CDA who understood what we were trying to achieve.
What do you enjoy most about working in a co-operative?
Being part of something that isn’t a corporate monster and that runs on ethical principles and allows us to develop projects that we feel will work best. We love trying different ideas out, some being quite unusual and exciting like our new Yurt café and workshop space. A yurt is a Mongolian tent and our new yurt will be a multi use space not just for the café but also for birthday party hire, green workshops, storytelling and more. We can’t wait to see that up and running.
Do you have any particular success stories that you would like to share with us?
* Buying and renovating The Green Place in Sileby including installing solar panels onto our roof
* Waste Management consultancy for national events including the annual Chelsea Flower Show
* Featuring on “The Gadget Show” on Channel Five
* Being instrumental in De Montfort Hall winning a Greener Festival Award
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