#PostcardFromCOP – A personal view from the Glasgow COP26 Climate Conference


Throughout COP26, one of the Sustainable St Albans trustees has been in Glasgow with work. Each day, she shared a #PostcardFromCOP with us on Twitter. Together, they give a personal perspective on the atmosphere in Glasgow and what an ordinary person – not a world leader or negotiator – makes of their first ever climate conference. 


Still wondering what COP is and why it matters? If you think a picture speaks 1000 words, have a look at this great infographic which explains COP26 and what rides on it.


October 31st

Step 1, getting the train north towards COP26, very slowly due to trees on the power lines; perhaps a sign of increasingly common extreme weather?

Train to COP26
Train to COP26 Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 1st 

#PostcardFromCOP Glasgow is fully prepared and covered in COP26 signage. The whole Scottish Power building has been decked in the @warmingstripes (not a great photo, I know, but there’s an understandably big police presence, and they came to ask why I was taking photos).

Glasgow COP26
Photos: Sustainable St Albans

Just seen an XR funeral march go past, in the middle of the bustling shopping centre Buchanan Street. Incongruous. #PostcardFromCOP

XR Funeral March Glasgow COP26
XR Funeral March Glasgow COP26 Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 2nd

1/ #PostcardFromCOP today is a thread about fringe events, and why they are so important. Of course, most of the attention is on the world leaders and the negotiators, in the Blue Zone of COP.  But, across the city, there are hundreds of fringe events.

2/ Want to see what I mean? Choose a day and have a look (don’t forget to keep clicking ‘show more events’ to unscroll everything on the day you’ve picked:

3/ These are events run by civil society, for civil society. They are places for charities and NGOs to meet & mingle, raise issues, make plans, and call for action.  Remember most of us haven’t been able to be in a room together for 18 months, and many are in foreign countries.

4/ All importantly, they are a place for voices to be heard which are normally silenced.  Indigenous people, people from the global south, young people, faith groups, poverty campaigners. Voices of the people hardest hit by climate change and issues of climate justice.

5/ Here is just one example, from tonight.  A collaborative event from @Tearfund @YCCN @CAFOD @christianaid @Greenanglicans @InterfaithScot @sciaf and more, hosted in the beautiful @sgt_church. They were presenting over 150,000 actions which people in their groups had taken.

COP26 Fringe Event
COP26 Fringe Event. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

6/ The representatives were from the Philippines, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Nigeria, Ireland, Scotland. They have collectively gathered petitions, walked across countries, prayed, and gathered people behind significant declarations.

They said, “We share this one, tiny, fragile, interrelated planet”.

7/ Each in turn they said, “We call on the leaders of the world to take urgent action, we demand climate justice for all, and care about the earth we all depend on.”  They called for fair climate finance. They said, “We share this one, tiny, fragile, interrelated planet”.

8/ The youth relay from @YCCNetwork had carried the sails of this boat all the way from the G7 in Cornwall to COP26 in Glasgow. It says “rise to the moment”.  It symbolises that we are all in the same storm but not in the same boat.

YCC Network COP26 Sail
YCC Network COP26 Sail. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

9/ The challenge is getting these amazing voices *heard*. These amazing fringe events aren’t in the Green Zone, let alone the Blue Zone. What can we each do to amplify them?

10/10 Can we write to our MPs and call for climate justice? Can we fundraise for advocacy? Can we share their stories? Can we reach out in our own communities to voiceless groups, and ask how we can amplify them? Tonight, a very long #PostcardFromCOP; thanks for sticking with me.

November 3rd

#PostcardFromCOP There are 3 different, linked things going on at COP. Fringe events (see yesterday), the Blue Zone (= world leaders + negotiators, it’s what you see on TV) & the Green Zone (= a big busy expo with stands, panels & talks, open to the public if you booked quickly).

Blue Zone and Green Zone at COP26
Blue Zone and Green Zone at COP26 Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 4th

#PostcardFromCOP Out and about in Glasgow; this one speaks for itself.

COP26
COP26. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 5th – the day of the Youth Climate Strike

1/ #PostcardFromCOP Right here, right now, there are thousands of young people, and parents, and grand parents marching through central Glasgow. “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now!” #FridaysForFuture

Video from COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike. Click to see video on Twitter.

2/ It’s hard to get across the scale.  It’s going right down the hill, and then snaking back as far as the eye can see.

COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike
COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike. Photos: Sustainable St Albans

“It’s hard to get across the scale.”

3/ I hope she’s right.

"It's not too late to change" at COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike
“It’s not too late to change” at COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike. Photo: Sustainable St Albans.

4/ She definitely is.

"Stop promising, start doing" at COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike.
“Stop promising, start doing” at COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 6th 

This was the day of the mass mobilisation, when there were 200 rallies around the world, including 500 people gathered here in St Albans and 100,000+ in Glasgow.

#PostcardFromCOP People are gathering and starting to march. This is one block of many, walking by. It’s going to be big. (Despite the Glasgow rain.)

Video from COP26 Glasgow rally. Click to see video on Twitter.
Video from COP26 Glasgow rally. Click to see video on Twitter.

What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now. #PostcardFromCOP

Video from COP26 Glasgow rally.
Video from COP26 Glasgow rally. Click to see video on Twitter.

#PostcardFromCOP In the middle of just one of the blocks, walking through Glasgow. The noise is amazing, bouncing off the walls.

COP26 Glasgow rally
COP26 Glasgow rally. Photos: Sustainable St Albans

#PostcardFromCOP Nearly 4pm, and still marching ….. One incident we’ve heard of involving the police, otherwise all peaceful.

November 7th

#PostcardFromCOP  Everyone with Blue Zone clearance (negotiators & official observers, not me!) gets free travel on public transport, a real advantage given accommodation shortages means a lot of people are staying in outlying towns & in Edinburgh. Nice bit of joined-up thinking.

COP26 public transport
COP26 public transport. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 8th

#PostcardFromCOP Audible gasp today from the audience at the Green Zone event I attended, when told that if the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation, it would be the largest at COP with 503 delegates. Very, very sobering.

If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation, it would be the largest at COP with 503 delegates. Very, very sobering.”

November 9th

#PostcardFromCOP Greenwashing, or really green? It’s so hard to tell. Businesses have stands in the Green Zone pushing their eco-credentials and there are adverts all around town. Just wish the charities, NGOs and campaign groups had access to the same kind of marketing budgets.

Green marketing
Green marketing. Photos: Sustainable St Albans

November 10th

#PostcardFromCOP (Some) hope is in the air. Keep your fingers firmly crossed.

November 11th

#PostcardFromCOP Moving today that the bustling Green Zone fell silent at 11am for the Remembrance Day silence.

November 12th

1/ A final #PostcardFromCOP thread from the train home. The ultimate question, “has it been a success?”. And the answer, I’m afraid is, “we don’t know quite yet”.  The official end time is today, but COPs, like babies, often go 2-3 days over their due date.

2/ Hard as it is to imagine (& stop to think what this means for the caterers, and the police) is that it might end today, tomorrow or Sunday. I’m told it is a *good* sign if it runs long. Extra time means there is something meaningful to discuss, that they are trying to land.

3/ Meantime, people are scouring the draft text and coming to views about how good it is. Some are seeing it as a glass half full:

  • progress on many fronts
  • gap between Paris and 1.5 somewhat closed
  • loss and damage mentioned
  • commitment to adaptation as well as mitigation.

4/ Some are half glass empty or worse:

  • gap between Paris and 1.5 is still big 
  • too little focus on the impacts of climate change
  • insufficient finance for adaptation
  • lack of funding mechanism for loss and damage
  • lack of debt relief for the most vulnerable countries.

5/ One key point is whether the government can agree to coming back with increased “NDCs” (commitments) sooner than the planned 5 years. The most affected are calling for 1 year.  Perhaps there will be a compromise.

6/ Meantime, what does it all mean for a group like us? From what I’ve seen this fortnight, we are one part of a massive patchwork quilt of charities, cities, universities, businesses, faith groups, & national governments, working with passion & commitment to solve this problem.

7/ One standout quote from the week is from the transition networks own @robintransition “If we wait for governments to act, it will be too late, and if we only act as individuals, it will be too little, but if communities act it might just be enough.”

“If we wait for governments to act, it will be too late, and if we only act as individuals, it will be too little, but if communities act it might just be enough.”

@robintransition

8/ I take enormous comfort and motivation from seeing the collective effort.  It’s helped me see SSA as one piece in this giant climate action jigsaw; we can slot in our piece, and work with others to help them slot in theirs.

9/ And I take enormous comfort and motivation from seeing 100,000 people turn out in the November rain to call for climate justice.  What if each of those people has instead stayed home and said, “What’s the point of me going? What difference will one person make?”.

10 of 10/ I’ll leave the last word to the remarkable young climate activist Vanessa Nakate, “your actions matter, no action is too small to make a difference, no voice is too small to make a difference”.

What next after COP26? What can normal people do?

“We are one part of a massive patchwork quilt of charities, cities, universities, businesses, faith groups, & national governments, working with passion & commitment to solve this problem.”

If you’ve been feeling motivated by COP to do more, here are some ideas:

  1. Talk about the climate issues more with your friends, family, colleagues.  Normalise it.  Not sure how?  Help is at hand. 
  2. Take a step yourself.  You know what’s achievable in your life.  Need to know how? Help is at hand.  
  3. Join forces with a local group; there is power in numbers. Not sure who or how? There is a list here, and – of course – we’d love to hear from you.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

Join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Pick one step. Learn about it. Do it (with our help).

Momentum towards the COP26 climate talks is building. It’s in the papers, on the news, on social media. Yet that focus shouldn’t only be on Glasgow; it needs action at all levels. We can also turn the spotlight on ourselves and ask “What action will I take during COP26? How will I raise my voice?”. Well, here’s an easy place to start. Simply pick one of the 16 climate actions below that interests you. Get inspired by our blog, get informed by our resources page, and then commit to take that step with Count Us In. Do one thing more, during COP26, and be part of a movement of change.


Over 16 weeks, we have run our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps.  We have had a guest blog each week since July during the countdown to the UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps. The blogs are backed-up by detailed resources pages, to help you get started.

In this wrap-up, we lay out all the 16 blogs and resources pages in one place.

Our call to action is for you to pick one climate action below, let us help you get informed, and then take that step with Count Us In.


As a small, local environmental charity, Sustainable St Albans has always had some key principles at its heart. We are ordinary people like you. We care about the amazing district of St Albans. By finding positive ways to act, we want to empower local people to take a step to live more sustainably.

16 blogs by extraordinary ordinary local people

Over the last 16 weeks, some truly extraordinary ordinary St Albans District people have told us their own inspirational stories, shared with us their passions and taken time to tell other residents like you their secrets to success. Each has taken one of the 16 Count Us In steps and shared their knowledge so that the rest of us can positively act to live more sustainably in one area of our lives.

“St Albans District people have told us their own inspirational stories.”

Meet our Count Us in bloggers

The great thing about the 16 Count Us In steps is that there is something for everyone. You just start with one step.

Food and Fashion

If you love your food, take inspiration from Becky about Eating More Plants, from Juliet about Eating More Seasonally or from Caroline about Reducing Food Waste. How about fashion? There’s Emily’s look at Wearing Clothes to Last. Plus, Philip’s Repair and Re-Use blog is also great on thinking about what we already have before we buy new.

Fly less, Drive Electric, Walk & Cycle More

Susheel gives practical ideas for those wondering about how to cut down on short journey car use with her Walk and Cycle More blog. For medium and long journeys, try Shaun’s Drive Electric blog. Planning a holiday? – read James’ idea for a plane-free holiday in Fly Less.

Repaire Fair in St Albans

Home Energy

On the home front, energy use is top of the agenda. Don’t miss Judith’s blog about how she Insulated her Home – a Victorian end-of-terrace, no less. Ian has great advice about how to use less heating in Dial It Down. In a second blog, he gives easy steps to help you Switch Your Energy provider. Plus, Will tells his real life experience of having solar panels installed in Get Some Solar.

Money and Speaking Up

An area of our lives many of us have yet to tackle is Greening Our Money. Simon’s blog is eye-opening on that subject.

Finally, we must not forget the impact that we can all have by talking about climate action with other people. Each person we influence expands the ever-growing population of people who are making changes. Catherine’s blog about Talking to Friends introduces Climate Conversations as a framework. Dan encourages us to Speak up at Work. 18 year old Jess’s blog on Tell Your Politicians turns a daunting prospect into an achievable and necessary step.

“Each person we influence expands the ever-growing population of people who are making changes.”

And meet some people who have taken their first step

It’s great to be hearing from those have already been inspired by our #CountdowntoCOP campaign. Meet three people who have signed up to take a step on the special St Albans District Count Us In page.

Isobel is Eating More Plants

Fleetville resident, Isobel, says: “I pledged through ‘Count Us In‘ to reduce the number of meals I eat containing meat. I enjoyed being creative in the kitchen, using tofu and soya mince. I was pleased that I managed to convince the kids to try some new dishes, some of which they were impressed with. Meat-free meals will continue to be on the menu some nights, and when we do buy meat we will go for locally produced and high welfare standards.

Read Becky’s blog “Quick and Easy ways to Eat More Plants” so you can take the Eat More Plants step like Isobel.

 Banh Mi from Taste of Vietnam. Photo: Taste of Vietnam

Lizzie is Wearing Clothes to Last

Lizzie, also from St Albans says: “I pledged to buy only second hand clothes for two months. I often go to the charity shop but it’s a bit hit or miss. This time I decided to look on Facebook market place as I wanted a new warm jumper. I found one just round the corner from me and it’s become a new staple. I’ll definitely look there again in the future.

Read Emily’s blog “Easy Ways to Wear Clothes to Last” and pledge like Lizzie.

Linda is Driving Electric

Harpenden resident, Linda, says: “I pledged through Count Us In to try the step ‘Drive electric’.  We completed this step after a 2-month transition from running a diesel car each (blushes…), through sharing 1 car, to swapping that for an electric car.

The hardest part was overcoming range anxiety – after deciding which colour EV to buy, of course.  We tackled that by installing a charging point at home, powered by our own solar-generated electricity. We also found out where the neighbourhood ‘fast’ charging points are.

Looking back, the question to ourselves is – ‘Why didn’t we do this sooner?’

Read Shaun’s blog “The Road to My First EV: “Ill never own an electric car”” to help you take the Drive Electric pledge like Linda.

“Looking back, the question to ourselves is – “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”.

16 steps – just pick one

The 16 Count Us In steps are below. Pick one that interests you, read the blog, check out the resources and then click through to take that step on our own special St Albans District Count Us In page.

Remember when you register to tick to say you are part of the team “St Albans Climate Action Network”.

Which step will you pledge to take?

Talk to Friends

Read Catherine’s blog: 5 Good Reasons Not to Talk about Climate Change (and Why You Should Anyway)

Switch Your Energy

Cut Food Waste

Walk and Cycle More

Eat More Plants

Get Some Solar

Eat Seasonal

Drive Electric

Repair and Reuse

Dial It Down

Fly Less

Insulate Your Home

Wear Clothes to Last

Tell Your Politicians

Speak Up At Work

Green Your Money

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to each of our bloggers for their fantastic and inspirational writing.

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

How to green your money so it helps the planet

For most working adults, by far the most effective way of reducing your personal carbon footprint is to kick the carbon out of your cash. If you have a mortgage, or a pension, a savings account or even an insurance policy, you have put your money in someone else’s hands and they are doing something with it. That something could be helping the planet, or harming it.


This is Week 16 of our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps.  We have had a guest blog each week since July during the countdown to the UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps.

In this blog, Simon Grover, Green Party District Councillor in St Albans District, discusses the various ways we can make our money work for the climate rather than against it.


How much difference can you make if you green your money? Well, one pension provider estimates the average UK worker’s pension finances 23 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. That’s on top of your personal footprint of 10-13 tonnes on average. Another pension provider estimates that moving your pension savings is 27 times more effective than giving up meat, flying and driving combined. 

Stop and reflect on those numbers for a minute.

“Another pension provider estimates that moving your pension savings is 27 times more effective than giving up meat, flying and driving combined.”

Of course, unlike avoiding the car, moving money around doesn’t usually stop emissions immediately. That coal mine you had invested in still produces coal if you sell your shares in it. But the more of us who move our money, the more is invested for good instead of not-so-good. And the more the finance industry is encouraged to do better things with our money.

A small note: as with all financial decisions, if it involves a lot of money, it’s a good idea to get some independent financial advice before doing anything.

Green your banking and saving

Your current and savings account money doesn’t just sit in a vault. Your bank uses your money to invest, to make money for itself (and perhaps a bit for you too). So what is it investing in? It’s not easy to find out, but you can switch to a bank that is rated highly for its ethical operations. There are lots of lists, including this one at New Money, which rates the following banks most highly; Triodos, Ecology Building Society, Nationwide, Co-op and Monzo. Switching bank accounts used to be impossibly difficult, but is now much easier and quicker. 

“Switching bank accounts […] is now much easier and quicker.”.

Green your pension

Your pension is probably your largest investment that you don’t even think about. What companies are your workplace or private pension savings invested in? There are likely to be some horrors in there. Not just coal mines and oil companies, but tobacco, arms and gambling too. Look at the Make My Money Matter campaign for ideas on finding out, and asking your employer to make sure their scheme is a good one. If you want, you can usually choose a more ‘ethical’ option in your employer’s scheme. If you have pension savings from a previous employer, you might move them to a greener provider. Have a look at Good With Money for ideas.

Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash

“What companies are your [..] pension savings invested in?”

Green your mortgage

Although a mortgage is a loan to you, you pay interest on that, so you are significantly supporting your mortgage provider, which is a financial institution. Is your mortgage provider genuinely part of the low carbon transition? Or are they dragging their feet? The Ecology Building Society is well known as a ‘green’ business, even giving better deals to eco-friendly homes. But there are others too. For example, see this article at This Is Money

If you have installed energy efficiency measures in your home, or want to put the cost of doing so on your mortgage, you might be able to get a discounted ‘green’ mortgage. As well as The Ecology Building Society, there are other banks and building societies that offer these.

Green your investments

There are now a huge range of ‘green’ investment funds, that you can invest in through ISAs or other investment products. You could be investing in eco-minded companies through shares and bonds, or even in low carbon property and infrastructure. Watch out for greenwashing and ‘too good to be true’ offers. Perhaps try a well-known platform or investment manager like Nutmeg, Hargreaves Lansdown or M&G. For more on this, try Your Ethical Money.

Remember that it’s not all about taking money away from high carbon companies. Some of those companies might need encouraging to transition to the low-carbon future. Oil and gas company Orsted has already moved 100% into renewables, for example. Different investment providers will have different attitudes to this issue.

“Watch out for greenwashing and ‘too good to be true’ offers.”

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Green your bills

Of course, the money you spend also has an impact on the world. Green shopping gets a lot of attention, but what about your everyday household bills? As well as switching to a ‘green’ energy supplier, you can invest environmentally to reduce your bills. This is also an example of moving money that DOES have an immediate effect on reducing emissions. For example, getting solar panels and insulation to reduce your heating or electricity bills. Getting an electric car can even be seen as an investment in reduced fuel bills over time. Recent Sustainable St Albans blogs cover many of these topics.

Not sure where to start?

It can feel hard to know where to start with greening your money. But it’s well worth a try as it can make such a huge difference. An easy way to start is with Make My Money Matter  who can help you ask your pension provider to improve the green credentials of your pension, in just a few clicks.

“An easy way to start is with Make My Money Matter.”

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

Join in today and use Simon’s advice to help you choose the “Green Your Money” Step as your pledge.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

Top tips for an eco and fun Halloween in St Albans District

We love Halloween at Playing Out St Albans District. There is so much fun to be had in our immediate neighbourhoods and it’s great to feel part of the community. This year we’re inviting residents to get involved in local Halloween competitions and a plan for a district map of spooky spots. And with Halloween becoming bigger and better every year, we’re also encouraging everyone to keep sustainability at the heart of what they do.


In this special Halloween blog, Nicola Wyeth, project co-ordinator of Playing Out St Albans District (a Sustainable St Albans project), talks about their joint seasonal project with St Albans Rainbow Trail and how to keep the celebrations sustainable.


After last year’s pause on the traditional Halloween trick-or-treating, it is exciting for Halloween to feel a bit more normal this year. Halloween falls on the last Sunday of half term, so it will feel like a bit of a party before the return to school. Some streets across the district have even got permission to close their roads for organised Playing Out sessions before it gets dark – we can’t wait to see photos of the kids scooting and biking in their costumes!

This year we are delighted to have been approached by Preet Cox of St Albans Rainbow Trail to work on some fun Halloween stuff together. You can find out full details of our plans on the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook page.

In essence, the project consists of two parts: a trio of competitions and (hopefully) a district map of decorated houses and businesses.

A trio of Halloween competitions

We are inviting all residents across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages to take part in our Halloween Spooktacular event and enter one or more of our three competitions:

  • The Spooky Home/Window Display – enter a picture of your decorated window, home or business.
  • The Rainbow Pumpkin Hunt – can you spot one while out and about in St Albans District?
  • The Pumpkin Carving Competition – enter a picture of your carved pumpkin into the competition

Entrants are asked to donate to St Albans District Foodbank. The suggested donation is £2.00, whether you enter one or all of the competitions. A winner for each competition will be picked on 1st November and each lucky winner will receive a £20.00 voucher courtesy of Bradford and Howley Estate Agents.

Join the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook group to enter the competitions as well as to find the terms and conditions. Any questions can be sent by direct messaging the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook page.

“Enter one or more of our three competitions.”

Rainbow Army recruit creating a Rainbow Pumpkin for you to spot on the Rainbow Pumpkin Trail.
Photo: St Albans Rainbow Trail

Map of St Albans District spooky spots

With St Albans Rainbow Trail , we are encouraging everyone who decorates their house or business for Halloween to tell us so that we can try to create a map of all the places to see across the district. Whether it’s a silhouette window or a full front drive horror house, fill in our google form and let us know.

Assuming we get enough locations, we’ll publish the map each day from 29th to 31st October. You’ll be able to locate Halloween displays near you whilst you’re out and about. We hope that local residents will enjoy walking around their neighbourhoods to see all the Halloween decorations and window displays.

If you live in Redbourn, do check out the Redbourn Village Trails Facebook Group too!

Please do get involved and spread the word! Why not pop it on your street WhatsApp group?

“Whether it’s a silhouette window or a full front drive horror house […] let us know.”

Keeping Halloween climate-friendly

In some households, Halloween is already becoming the new Christmas. You can pretty much buy anything themed on Halloween – and every supermarket is offering an array of orange and black as you walk through the door. From disposable tableware to costumes to projectors, there is so much tempting Halloween stuff to buy.

Before you chuck those orange plastic trick-or-treat buckets in your trolley, please do stop and think. Can you join in with Halloween without buying new? Here are some ideas…

“…there is so much tempting Halloween stuff to buy.”

Think second-hand Halloween

So many polyester costumes are bought for one day, worn once and never worn again. So much plastic is involved in cheap Halloween decorations. But you don’t need to shell out £10 notes on new stuff.  Lots of local charity shops have displays of loads of Halloween stuff that is as good as new so wander down your high street and see what you can find. What do friends and neighbours have that you could borrow or swap?

Local social media

  • NextDoor, the geographically-based social media website and app, is a good resource to tap into
  • WhatsApp groups are great for this kind of thing – tell your local contacts what you’re looking for!

St Albans District selling Facebook groups

St Albans District free sites and webpages

Facebook groups for free stuff in St Albans District

“So many polyester costumes are bought for one day, worn once and never worn again.”

Think natural materials, think home-made: Decorations

Playing Out is, first and foremost about play. Free, unstructured play. The most unstructured way to decorate for Halloween is to let the kids go wild with natural materials and their imagination. 

Forage in nature

Pine cones, conkers, autumn leaves, twigs all make great decorative materials.

Home made decorations

No need to go out and buy them – make them from the stuff you already have! Don’t forget to try to avoid glitter if you can.

  • Get a bucket of chalk and decorate the drive with spooky pictures and words
  • Wool makes great spiders’ webs
  • Make a haunted house den from a big cardboard box
  • Cut out spiders and ghouls from black plastic bags and blue tack to walls and windows – those plastic postal bags that have black insides are ideal for this.
  • Fill jam jars with spooky stuff and dot around – what pocket money toys are lying around your house? Plastic spiders and other insects, pretend eye balls, fake thumbs from a magic set can be put in a jam jar filled with water. Add a few drops of different food colouring to each for a spooky display.
  • Decorate jam jars – and fill with LED tea lights to make lanterns
  • Egg carton bats
  • Bed sheet ghosts (stuff a pillow case in the middle and tie with string to make head then suspend)

Sustainable window displays

If you’re planning a window display, check out our Festive Streets blog from last December. The theme is different – but the principles of window displays can apply to Halloween as well as December celebrations.

Care with lights

Please minimise energy usage with your decorated house or window, particularly on lights. If you do use lights, please avoid flashing lights as these can adversely impact some people.  

Think natural materials, think home-made: Costumes

Making your own is so easy and it’s cheaper!

  • Ghost up with a sheet (best advice my mother-in-law ever gave me – “never throw away old sheets – they come in so handy for everything”).
  • Toilet paper mummy – wind round you!
  • Cat – black outfit, cardboard ears attached to hairband, homemade tail from old tights.
  • Bat – black outfit, wings from black material, cardboard bat ears attached to hairband
  • Don’t forget the joy of Facepaints – scary witch, spooky ghost – there are tons of ideas on line

Also what could you use that you already own that would make a good trick-or-treat sweet collector? 

Don’t waste that pumpkin

Keep your pumpkin decorations sustainable by not creating unnecessary food waste. A terrifying 14.5 million pumpkins are expected to be left uneaten this Halloween, in the UK alone!  Hubbub UK’s annual Pumpkin Rescue campaign is back, this year called “Eat Your Pumpkin”. For lots of ideas visit Hubbub.

Why not try this great pumpkin soup recipe from Grow Community Sopwell in St Albans. And don’t forget pumpkin seeds can be roasted too for a tasty snack!

Finally when the celebrations are over, make sure you compost that pumpkin!

Find out more about Playing Out

Playing Out is a nation-wide concept where residents choose to apply to the local authority to close their road to through traffic to allow the children to come out onto the street and cycle, scoot and play together in the road. It is a fabulous way to build communities, offering neighbours a chance to build support networks and children the opportunity to get fresh air and exercise, as well as learn to play in an unstructured manner with other children of all ages.

If this is something you would like to see on your street in the future, why not join our mailing list to be kept up-to-date with the latest news and check out our Playing Out St Albans District webpages.

Find out more about St Albans Rainbow Trail

This 2,500 strong community Facebook group was set up by Preet Cox during lockdown and has raised hundreds of pounds for charity while helping St Albans District residents to come together as a community and get creative.Why not click here to visit the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook page or click here to visit and join the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook Group.

Happy Halloween!

3 ways to speak up at work about the climate crisis

Speaking up at work about the climate crisis can be quite a challenge for many of us. While we can make changes to our own lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprint, it can seem quite difficult to make those same changes in the workplace.  However, whether you’re a worker or a manager, speaking up at work can be a powerful action and is more achievable than you might think.


This is Week 15 of our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps.  We will have a guest blog each week until November’s UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps.

This week, Dan Fletcher shows us how achievable it is to “Speak Up At Work” as part of Count Us In. Dan is a trustee of Sustainable St Albans and is employed in the business services sector.


1. Informal conversation is a powerful way to speak up at work

Informal conversations at work can be highly meaningful. Your colleagues know you and will see the choices that you make, if you let them. You don’t need to be preachy about what you do. You just need to do it and be matter of fact about what you’re doing. Before long, it is inevitable that a colleague will ask you why. Sharing your reasons and how easy it can be is immensely powerful. It can also multiply the impact of your own climate actions.

Explain climate friendly choices you’ve made when asked

This year for holidays I’ve mainly travelled by train across the UK rather than drive. When I go out for meals with colleagues I don’t eat meat and am often plant-based in my diet. If I bring lunch to work, I’ll wrap it in beeswax instead of plastic or clingfilm. I cycle to my office in St Albans or to the station if I’m going into our London base, rather than drive. All of these things have sparked conversations about why I have made these choices. 

Encourage knowledge sharing

Talking informally creates a context for others to share their sustainability steps and tips, and helps to build community around sustainable living. Subjects from carbon-offsetting flights to supermarket plastic, green investment to food miles, can all take place in the office. Speak up about these subjects at work and share your knowledge. From there, it’s a small step to mention Count Us In and to invite colleagues to start taking their own Count Us In steps too. 

“Talking informally creates a context for others to share their sustainability steps and tips.”

Hold a Climate Conversation with colleagues

If a few colleagues are interested, why not organise a Climate Conversation held across a couple of lunch times? You just need a meeting room, a computer, an internet connection and a handful of colleagues who are interested to know what action they can take to help the climate crisis. Find out more about the free, self-serve Climate Conversation materials by visiting Sustainable St Albans’ Climate Conversations webpage.

Chatting at work
Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

2. Join a Green Team to speak up at work

The concept of ‘Green teams’ or ‘Eco teams” at work is becoming more common, especially for workplaces that rely on cohorts of Generation Zers each year. We have a team at my work, and this becomes a simple route to influencing the direction of our work’s environmental policies. 

Start a Green team

If you don’t have a Green team at work, then why not start one? It can often be done by simply finding one or two like-minded people and writing to your CEO or even your manager with a proposal of what you could do and how it might work. Most businesses would value that kind of initiative. Many green initiatives, such as switching off monitors and lights at night, also save the company money.

Hold a Climate Conversation to get going

If your Green team needs a focus to get started, why not organise a Climate Conversation as mentioned above? Then use the Count Us In steps as your framework to help plan your actions.

“If your Green team needs a focus to get started, why not organise a Climate Conversation?”

office meeting - green team
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

3. Speak up at work about ESG

Lastly, it is worth thinking about the ESG movement. ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. It is similar to concepts such as Planet – People – Purpose. It is a global movement that started as a set of criteria for investing and it helps evaluate a companies corporate behaviour and future performance. 

ESG covers carbon footprints and more

ESG is about more than companies reducing their carbon footprints. It includes issues around how a company adds value to the communities where it exists. It also takes seriously issues around how it is governed – how inclusive and diverse it is, how open its decision-making is and how it complies with regulation. ESG resonates with issues of carbon justice and the importance of being a part of the community. 

You can help your workplace by speaking up at work about ESG and the business case for taking it seriously. Businesses that are not aware of ESG will be the ones that won’t thrive in the future. This may be a great opportunity to get involved and help your company to start its sustainability journey in the right direction. 

“Businesses that are not aware of ESG will be the ones that won’t thrive in the future.”

Chatting through ESG at work
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

Speaking up at work really makes a difference

Speaking up at work may seem challenging, but it is a simple way for you to have a wide and deep impact on the climate crisis. If you’ve reduced your food waste, have changed to a green energy tariff, jumped off the fast fashion bandwagon and minimised your transport emissions, speaking up at work is a great way to multiply your own contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions. From informal conversations through to your work Green team or ESG project, Speaking Up at Work really is a Step worth taking.

“Speaking up at work is a great way to multiply your own contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions.”

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

Join in today and use Dan’s advice to help you choose the “Speak Up at Work” Step as your pledge.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

We will have a blog every Sunday until the international climate talks in November, COP26. Each blog will focus on one of the 16 steps. Look out for next week’s blog “Green Your Money” by Simon Grover.