Organise a Playing Out scheme or a street party now and bring sustainability to your street!

Street parties are fabulous aren’t they? Bunting, tables of people in the middle of the road, food and entertainment, laughter and music. As for Playing Out schemes, sessions might have less of a fanfare but, short and regular, they can be easier to organise and a sturdy foundation for the community on your road. They get children out in the fresh air and neighbours out onto the street to meet each other – while passing round a packet of custard creams.

With the Big Lunch in early June every year and the Great Get Together later in the same month, street parties are still a big thing and not just for royal occasions. More and more parties are being held simply so neighbours can enjoy each other’s company. This year there is even the big VE Day celebration which is a perfect excuse for a party. 

street party st albans

Meanwhile, Sustainable St Albans and St Albans District Council have now made it possible for residents to apply to close their road more regularly than just a one-off party – up to 8 times per year for the purposes of play and community building through the new Playing Out Scheme introduced this January.


Free information sessions

Sustainable St Albans’ Playing Out project and volunteer group, Our Street Party, are organising a whole series of information sessions this March. Free to attend and no need to book, they are the perfect chance to find out all about how to organise a one-off street party or a regular Playing Out road closure scheme in your road. More details at the bottom of this article.

How do road closures bring sustainability to a street?

You might be wondering how street parties and Playing Out sessions are relevant to sustainability. Surely they are just about people sitting in the (fingers-crossed!) sunshine, enjoying a cup of tea or a barbecue? Yet it’s true – by organising a road closure on your street, you could actually be doing your bit for sustainability! One look at the Bioregional One Planet Living list of the ten areas of sustainability (below) and you start to realise that these types of community events tick an awful lot of boxes. 

Health & happiness as well as Culture & Community are the obvious ones. It’s not hard to see how pulling residents together on the street outside creates a community – one where cultures mingle, isolation is reduced and all the positives of a good neighbourhood can be strengthened. All those children running around in the fresh air has got to be healthy too!

Yet there are more. Getting to know your neighbours equates to becoming a part of the community. And doing that makes people care about where they live. People have more interest in Equity and local economy when they find out their neighbour runs a local business or charitable organisation. They resolve to shop locally when they hear another business is shutting on the high street. They organise a meal out in a local restaurant with new people they have met.


And how about Local and Sustainable Food? We all love to talk about our gardens!  We can swap tips with neighbours about growing tomatoes, inspiring each other (or commiserating!). Encouraging one another to grow our own, hearing about local growing projects such as Food Smiles and Incredible Edibles, sharing our knowledge about local food sources – all this is natural conversation between neighbours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

As for Land Use and Wildlife, there is so much to enjoy in your immediate neighbourhood. From discussions about sightings of garden birds, to plans for Hedgehog Highways (see Wilderhood Watch St Albans), it’s incredible what can come out of such community building events. Residents spend more time in their neighbourhood and see it in a different light – and suddenly there is a proposal to turn a patch of wasteland into a community orchard. 

Of course, Sustainable Transport has to be on the list. From an environmental point of view, children playing on the street immediately outside their house is better than driving to the park. Children learn to ride their bikes right outside their own front door. Before you know it, the parents get bikes and a whole family uses bikes instead of cars for local journeys. 

coleswood road harpenden 10-3-19

From neighbours organising a litter pick (Zero Waste) to sharing information about solar panels (Zero Carbon), there is just no arguing that community building is an important foundation for getting people to care about the environment in the first place.

Organise an event on your street this Summer!

So if you want to do your bit for sustainability but don’t know where to start, why not start with your own neighbours? Get them out onto the street to meet each other and build a community. Who knows what small changes in sustainability your street party might make to your neighbours’ lives – and the ripple effect those might have.

Find out more

To find out more about Playing Out, visit our Playing Out St Albans District webpage.

Watch our new video:

To find out more about Street Parties, visit

Free information sessions March 2020

2020 Twitter Playing Out Information Session copy

Street Parties*: Mon 2 March, 7.00pm The Beech House, St Albans.
Playing Out: Mon 2 March, 8.00pm The Beech House, St Albans.

Street Parties*: Friday 6 March, 10am. The Harpenden Arms, Harpenden.
Playing Out: Friday 6 March, 11am. The Harpenden Arms, Harpenden.

Playing Out: Mon 9 March, 10.30am at The Enchanted Tea Rooms, 71 High St, Redbourn, AL3 7LW.

Playing Out: Tuesday 10th March, 8pm in the St Stephen Suite (upstairs), St Stephen Parish Centre, Station Road, Bricket Wood, St Albans, AL2 3PJ.

Playing Out: Mon 16 March, 10.30am, at Caledon Community Centre, Caledon Road, London Colney, AL2 1PU.

*Street Parties information sessions are run by Our Street Party.


One School’s Journey to Cutting Single-Use Plastic

Six year-old pupils on a school Eco Team complained to their teacher about the waste generated by the free school milk programme so their teacher, Andrea Bootle, decided it was time they took action.

Binning the cartons

“Every Friday, our bins were overflowing with little milk cartons”, says Andrea, Eco Teacher at Crabtree Infants’ in Harpenden. “Each child could get five of them a week. Each carton had its own straw. And with 180 children in the Infants’ school, even if only half of them had milk ordered for them, the maths was staggering. 90 children, 5 cartons a week, 39 weeks a year….17,550 little cartons and straws to landfill a year.”

The Department of Health in the UK states that every child under the age of five in the UK is entitled to a free 189ml serving of milk whilst in attendance at a registered day care provider for two or more hours a day.  For many children at Crabtree Infants’ School, as at other schools, parents continue to pay for milk after the free entitlement has ended and the children very much enjoy their break-time drink.

“The children loved getting their milk but the waste upset them”, continues Andrea. “We looked at options for recycling the cartons, but since many still contained liquid, we couldn’t see a sensible way to deal with the waste. Adding to that all the plastic that the blocks were shrink-wrapped in and the waste was extraordinary. The Eco Team really felt it was time to act. During the Sustainability Festival, the children pledged to make change happen.”

With the help of their teacher, the Eco Team wrote to the school’s designated milk provider who offered them an alternative – a supply of re-usable plastic beakers and large containers of milk delivered to the school instead of individual cartons.

crabtree school milk 3

“Obviously, we were nervous at first.” explains Andrea. “Particularly with the new Reception children – we had visions of floods of milk all over the carpet if they were given open beakers. And the washing up was also a bit of a concern. However, all the staff have been amazing and supported the Eco Team’s changes with no objections and the children have coped with it well.”

crabtree school milk 2

Georgia Frost, Reception Teacher, agrees: “The children in Reception enjoy socialising at the snack table. They have gained independence by pouring their own milk, whilst being eco-friendly. It allows them to take some responsibility for the whole world around them; something we encourage in all aspects of school life.”

Stopping the flow of single use water bottles

Soon beakers of milk became the norm for the school and the bins are no longer overflowing. But the children did not rest there.  The Eco Team came up with another type of single-use plastic they wanted to stop: single-use water bottles for school trips.

“The children already brought in their own water bottles every day”, says Andrea. “Yet on school trips the school-provided packed lunch came with one and sometimes two disposable bottles of water. When it all arrived for our Year 1 and 2 trip to Southend the children were horrified by the stack of 240 throwaway plastic bottles of water just for one day.”

Again, by raising the issue with their provider and changing their school policy for trips, the children were able to make a big impact. Children now simply take their own reusable water bottles on school trips just like they do on an ordinary day.

The children were so right to challenge what we do”, concludes Andrea. “Their determination has saved thousands of cartons and straws from ending up in landfill and hundreds of unnecessary single-use water bottles. I’m extremely proud of them.”

Check with your school milk provider and caterer about their policies and how you can work together to cut single-use plastic. Crabtree Infants’ School receive their milk from Cool Milk and uses Herts Catering for their school meals.

crabtree school milk 1



Looking for a schools co-ordinator for SustFest2020

Could you help us involve schools in next year’s SustFest2020?

Are you experienced in working with schools? Are you looking for some short-term voluntary work at the moment?

Session with Sheila from the Festival

We are looking for a volunteer to help us get schools involved in next year’s Sustainabilty Festival – across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages.

Last year’s Sustainability Festival involved over 30 schools – infant, primary, secondary – (and scouts and guides and brownies) across the district – they got involved with some fantastic activities – and did stuff from plastic-free lunches; school litter pick; pond-dipping; jazzing up junk to reducing air pollution around the school entrances.

We now need to get the ball rolling for 2020 and are looking for someone to join our small team.

We have a small Sustainable Schools group and do have a couple of people already on board to help with Schools SustFest2020 – but we are lacking the experience of a teacher, or teaching assistant – someone who is familiar with how our local schools operate.

recycled materials

What kinds of things will the schools team do?

The team will have  to send out emails and follow these up to get some traction with teachers or eco-staff within the schools – and then passing on information to our communications team.  Some schools ask for someone to come in to talk to the children; that could be one of the SustSchools team. For the festival itself we also need to publicise activities within the schools’  newsletters to parents, and try and get some photos from engaged schools. We also need to make sure the schools get hold of programmes to distribute.

Contact us

Is this something you could help with? Or do you know someone who could help? Do let us know – email us through the contact form here.

SS Alban and Stephen school

Growing using recycled materials

Bird Watching

Ver Players talk to Sustainable St Albans

The Ver Players – a ukelele group playing in St Albans – are dedicating their annual 2019 Charity Fund-raiser to Sustainable St Albans. We were thrilled – and decided to have a chat to find out more about the group…

What are the Ver Players, when did they first get going, and where do they meet?

Ver Players is a community ukulele group based in St Albans. Founded in 2012, the group meet once a fortnight to sing, play and unleash their inner creativity. The group alternates between small, focused sessions in St Albans’ The Courtyard Cafe and larger old-fashioned singalongs in the Rose & Crown, a local pub. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to get together and experience live music.

How many people involved in the Ver Players?

Ver Players currently has over seventy members of all ages, with an equal gender split* of all ages from fifteen to over eighty. *(Just checked and amazingly the split is exactly: 37 men / 37 women)

Is it only for experienced ukulele players?

No, any ability is absolutely fine. Members typically join as complete beginners before quickly gaining confidence as they realise they can start to produce real music. The open, collaborative spirit ensures a fun and friendly atmosphere to learn, laugh – and ‘lose yourself in the ukulele’!

What is your favourite ukulele tune to play with the group?

It has to be Chuck Berry’s ‘You never can tell’, we’ve been playing this song since we started, and though it’s one of easiest songs we do we haven’t grown tired of it!

What’s the best venue you have ever played?

It was a proud moment to play for the Mayor of St Albans annual ball at Sopwell House Hotel this year.

Ver Players group

Ver Players practising

Can you tell us something about your annual charity fund-raisers?

The annual charity fund-raisers are the high point of our calendar and gives an opportunity for everyone to show of their skills in a concert setting. In recent years we have also brought in professional players on the national or international ukulele circuit. We carefully pick a suitable local charity each year working in a variety of fields from medical: Rennie Grove House, St Francis’ Hospice, Mind in Mid Herts. Herts independent living service (provide a range of services to help older and vulnerable people stay happy, healthy, and independent). Last year’s charity was Earthworks, St Albans (nurturing people with learning disabilities to reach their full potential).

This year we are delighted to support Sustainable St Albans for our charity fund-raiser on 12th October!

We played (a sub-group called Rag House) for  the Market Takeover at The Sustainability Festival 2019 in St Albans, and fully support the ethos of reducing the impact of human beings on the natural world. We pride ourselves in contributing to our community’s well-being in our small way and of course the ukulele is a small instrument so people can walk or cycle to our local gatherings.

The fund-raiser is on Sat 12th October: Trinity Church Hall, I Beaconsfield Road, St Albans, AL1 3RD. Doors open 7pm. Tickets £15: at the time of writing – a few tickets left at the door only!

How do you know about the Hot Potato Syncopators who are heading the bill at this year’s Charity fund-raiser?

They went down a storm at the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival (the UK’s major uke festival) last year. We saw them there and we’re thrilled to have them here in St Albans in October!

Joining the Ver Players

  • Annual membership for 2019 is £25 per person. Non-members are very welcome to our monthly sing-a-along at the pub, meet everyone, and then decide if you want to join us, and join the fun!

Full members get additional benefits:

  • The music is provided for you to print your own copy – so you can practise beforehand.
  • New songs are introduced each month, so you quickly build a up a fine collection of  songs, carefully arranged, with professional quality artwork, including chord diagrams to help you master the songs and improve quickly.
  • You can come to our regular practise sessions at the Court Yard Café and learn useful playing tips.
  • Depending on ability, you can join one of our performing groups.
  • If you need an instrument or new strings etc, go to The Music Dept, 67 London Road, St Albans: – Ver Players Membership Card to claim 5% discount.

For more information, please get in touch:


St Albans District streets celebrate World Car Free Day

Seven streets in St Albans and Harpenden closed for up to 3 hours on Sunday 22nd September  for World Car Free Day.  Neighbours took the opportunity to socialise as their children played on the road with bikes, scooters and skipping ropes. They were all taking part in the trial of a new Sustainable St Albans project called Playing Out.  The project enables residents to apply to close their own road to through traffic for the purposes of children’s play and community building.

The Playing Out scheme is being launched throughout the district including St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. It is being run in conjunction with St Albans District Council and is now open for applications from the public for 2020. 

Sustainable St Albans’ Playing Out co-ordinator, Nicola Wyeth, said:

“Playing Out sessions enable children to play out in the way that we all took for granted when we were young. It is a fabulous way to build communities, for parents to find a support network and for isolated residents to enjoy a cuppa and a chat all while the children get fresh air and exercise. It was wonderful to see multiple streets celebrating World Car Free Day in this way.”

A Playing Out scheme is always run in a way that minimises any inconvenience to residents who need access by vehicle to the closed area. Neighbours volunteer to steward the road closure points and if a driver needs access, they are escorted to their property at walking pace after children have been cleared from the road. 

Sustainable St Albans will help you through the necessary steps of the application and lend you the necessary kit such as high viz jackets and road closed signs. Interested residents can find out more at by visiting our Playing Out page or get in touch by emailing us. There will be free information sessions in November – one at the Harpenden Arms in Harpenden on 11th November at 10.30am and one at The Beech House pub in St Albans on 15th November at 10.30am. Come along to find out more.


Global Climate Strike St Albans

Friday 20 September saw hundreds of  school children and supporting adults on strike for the Climate. Meeting at the clocktower in St Albans the group, with colourful and emphatic banners, marched to the town hall, and then back through the city centre.

The UK protests are co-ordinated by the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) who are a group of mostly under 18s taking to the streets to protest the government’s lack of action on the Climate Crisis. They are mobilising unprecedented numbers of students to create a strong movement and send a message that they are tired of being ignored.

This is a strong start to this Autumn’s climate actions – taking place throughout the UK. Keep an eye out for Extinction Rebellion’s Autumn Rebellion, starting on October 7th.

outside council



we should all be worriedyellowno planet b

boy give me a futureHelen and boyclocktowercrowd by council

Climate Emergency declaration 55 – 0 at St Albans District Council

Climate Emergency report back Wed 9th Oct- see you there!

St Albans District Council is holding a full council meeting at 7pm Wed 9th October 2019  at the council offices, St Albans – they will be reporting back on the Climate Emergency work. Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend this meeting. You may want to attend so that the council sees that you are concerned and interested in the progress of their work on this.

InJuly 2019 St Albans District Council  declared a Climate Emergency with all party agreement voting 55 votes to 0 in favour.

Read the minutes and council motion agreed here

Sustainable St Albans and St Albans Friends of the Earth jointly organised the 1700 strong petition, which was distributed during the 2019 Sustainability Festival, also organised by the two groups.

Members of Sustainable St Albans, and St Albans Friends of the Earth, joined environmental groups and supporters outside the council offices before the council debate. Groups included Extinction Rebellion St Albans, St Albans Labour Party, and St Albans Green Party.

Catherine Ross, chair of the 2019 Sustainabilty Festival and trustee of Sustainable St Albans presented the petition along with Mimi Spiliopoulou,  a 17 year old member of Extinction Rebellion St Albans.

Catherine Ross said:

“It is a brilliant result – and so positive that there was cross-party agreement in favour of declaring the Climate Emergency in our district. I just want to thank all of the residents, councillors and officers who helped to make this happen – and to say that Sustainable St Albans will help in any way we can as the council goes forward in developing an action plan. Now the work begins.”

Catherine and Mimi presenting the petition at the council

 120 1st tier councils across the UK have declared a Climate Emergency. 70 of these, like St Albans District Council, have set a target date of 2030 to go carbon neutral. For information on other councils see

Single Use Plastic Ban

On the same evening the council also agreed a motion put forward by Cllr Mary Maynard to ban the use of single use plastic in Council offices and work towards banning its use in facilities licensed by the Council and at events on Council property or supported by the council. This follows the setting up of a new Plastic Free Harpenden group, which joins Plastic Free St Albans in calling for a reduction in the use of single use plastic across the district.

Gail Jackson, trustee of Sustainable St Albans which partners Plastic Free St Albans said

“This was a remarkable, and historic night for the district with two major motions supporting environmental sustainability. Over 5,000 people took part in the events during the fourth Sustainabilty Festival and these concerned residents must now feel that their voices have been heard.”

 Christelle Garcia from Plastic Free St Albans said

“It’s fantastic that the council is supporting the reduction of single use plastics in such a practical way that should see quite an impact in the district. Local businesses have already been very pro-active on this issue and this motion will provide a huge boost to the movement to remove these unnecessary plastics from our everyday lives.”

Sustainable St Albans will be following the council’s progress closely and we will keep you all up to date!

Facebook: @sustainablestalbans

Twitter: @sustainablesta

How to grow food in a small garden

Come along – be inspired and visit one of our lovely unique FREE Open Food Gardens on Sunday 23 June.

The annual programme is run by local residents – across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages – who are passionate about growing food.

It has been running for over nine years – with hundreds of people coming along to visit the gardens, and being inspired to grow their own food. New for this year – each garden has identified a theme which runs through the garden.

Seedlings are sometimes on offer.  Now included are local allotments, and FoodSmiles community food growing spaces and gardens in Harpenden and St Albans. If you are lucky, you may even get a cuppa and cake.

These events are friendly, informal events. Wander around for  20 minutes, stay an hour and chat to the gardener, talk to the flowers, share ideas with other visitors – its up to you!

Sun June 23rd 3 – 5pm. Theme: raised beds

23 Gresford Close, St Albans AL4 OUB

This is a small garden, found in St Albans, near to Oaklands College. It has been excellently organised to make incredible use of the 10 square metres . This Open Food Garden event will certainly give you ideas about how to pack in the most food growing in small spaces – while maintaining a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere to enjoy the outdoors.

Food is grown in both the back and front gardens. In the south facing front garden there is a mixture of fruit, vegetables and herbs, growbags for tomatoes. The multi-purpose back garden, which also incorporates shaded seating areas, planting to attract wildlife and a small pond, is about 10 metres square. It includes three raised beds where vegetables, minarette fruit trees, soft fruit trained on fences and herbs are grown.

There are several water butts and compost bin. The house has solar panels.IMG_5353

Friendly, fun and informal -you are invited to have a look round, even get a cup of tea and cake if you are lucky! You are welcome to talk to the plants, chat to the gardener or other visitors. Come on your own or bring a neighbour! See what fruit and vegetables can be grown at home! Get tips and advice on designing your vegetable plot and how to deal with critters!

The events are free but we do welcome a suggested £2 donation to Sustainable St Albans charity to help cover the costs.  Volunteers are always needed for the programme especially to help on the day showing visitors in. If you are interested in helping by volunteering on the day, please get in touch and email us click here



After Hugh: Your #WarOnPlastic

Are you feeling outraged or depressed after watching #WarOnPlastic?  There are active steps you can take:

Catherine Ross from Sustainable St Albans is fired up – follow her tips to reduce the single use plastic in your life.


* Open your fridge door and have a hard stare. What is unnecessary? Do you buy lots of small individually-wrapped things that you could swap for a larger one?

* Take your own string bags or small plastic bags to the supermarket to put loose fruit & veg in.

*if you drink dairy milk get it delivered in glass bottles see Find Me A Milkman  – ditch the plastic

Organic veg for sale at The Green Kitchen Vegan Cafe on Hatfield Road

* Take your own containers (plastic, glass, or bamboo) to the supermarket, and ask for cheese, fish and meat to be put in your containers.

* Or get your fresh produce from local suppliers who aim to reduce plastic like Box Local, Carpenter’s Nursery, Smallford Farm Shop and organic veg from The green kitchen Vegan cafe

* You can get all sorts of dried food and household products from The Refill Pantry off the London Road in central St Albans and Eat Wholefoods on Hatfield Rd (and regularly at the market). If you haven’t tried either yet, get over there, with your empty jars and cleaned out ice cream tubs in hand.

Get rid of the cling film – use bees wrap or vegan food wrap from The Refill Pantry or search online


* The Refill Pantry, Eat Whole Foods, Lush St Albans, the Phase out Plastic stall in St Albans and online stores also sell deodorants, shampoo, soap etc plastic free.

* You can get toilet paper without plastic packaging from Who Gives A Crap – but it does have a long journey to get here…

* There is a wide choice of reusable period wear -period pants or reusable pads, e.g. from St Albans based award-winning business WUKA


* Make your clothes washing plastic-free with powder in a cardboard box (from your local supermarket or for example from Ecover UK) and refill your fabric conditioner at The Refill Pantry,  Eat Whole Foods or Ecover again.


* You know this! Drink tap water not bottled. Carry your own water bottle and ask for refills. You can use the Refill app to see which businesses locally will let you fill up with tap water – Refill HQ , or just ask.

* Carry your own reusable coffee cup (don’t just buy it, actually carry it!) or sit down in a cafe and use crockery. (Sign up to Refill app on June 19th and get 5% off a Chilly water bottle)

* Make lunch at home and take it in a lunch box. You’ll save money, save plastic and probably eat better food.

* Did you know that Parker and Vine food and deli shop in Harpenden have made the brave decision to ban single use coffee cups – they even have a reusable bottle loan scheme for customers – but just take your own reusable cup!


We’re not going to shop ourselves out of the climate emergency, so far more important than any of the above, are the following three actions;

* Simply don’t buy stuff you don’t need.

* Write to/tell your councillor / MP that you care.  Ask them to act. For example, ask for more water fountains in St Albans (there are two new ones now, in town and Clarence Park). Ask exactly where your recycling goes. Ask your MP to support deposit return schemes and vote for legislation requiring the manufacturer to be responsible for their waste. Find your local councillor here

* Tell companies it’s NOT OK. If something arrives over-packaged, tweet about it. If you see something ludicrous at the supermarket, ask for the manager and let them know; especially if you see loose produce that costs more than the wrapped equivalent. If you go to a meeting with plastic-wrapped sandwiches, say you’d prefer something different next time. Generally, comment … do it nicely, but comment. Be a conscious consumer and use your voice.

See more ideas with Plastic Free St Albans here

  • Plastic pollution can now be found on every beach in the world, from busy tourist beaches to uninhabited, tropical islands nowhere is safe.
  • Scientists have recently discovered microplastics embedded deep in the Arctic ice.
  • In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034.
  • Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans.
  • There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.
  • Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.
  • Approx 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach in the UK.
  • Over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of UK beaches.
  • Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined.
  • 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually

What can you do, to make a difference?

The Sustainability Festival has ended, after a fabulous three weeks.  As things wrap up for this year, Catherine Ross, the current chair of the festival organising group, reflects on one of the most common questions asked by people coming to events:  “But what can I do, that really makes a difference?

So, you’re worried about climate change, you’re aware of the issues, and you want to act.  That’s a great place to start … lots of people aren’t even interested.

Here are five things you can do that really help:

(1) Make changes in your own life, using our Climate Action card

(2) Be a conscious consumer: every time you spend or save a pound, make it part of the solution.

(3) Influence the people around you.

(4) Join local groups and achieve more as a community.

(5) Normalise it, by talking about it.

Here’s a little more information on each one.

(1) Make changes in your own life, using our Climate Action plan.

For SustFest, we created an action plan with 25 things you can do.  See here to find it.

Each area has a lot of impact on your carbon footprint; home energy, food, getting about, the stuff you buy, and spreading the word. They start out easy, and get harder.

Don’t try and do everything at once.  You’re trying to build up new habits, and you’re only human. This month, choose one thing to focus on.  Give it a proper go.  Once you’re used to it, choose another one.  Work your way through the plan. Put it up on the fridge to remind yourself!

(2) Be a conscious consumer (and investor)

People often forget that they have a lot of influence by the way they use their money.  Every single purchase you make sends a message about what you care about.  Companies listen to their customers.

So, when you are about to buy something, ask yourself;

  • do I really need it?
  • could I buy it second hand?
  • if I do need it, and need a new one, then what is an ethical / environmental choice?
  • on this occasion, can I afford to make that choice?

Of course, this varies massively, depending on what you’re buying … whether you’re buying a banana or a car!  But here are some things to think about. Will it last?  Can it be easily repaired? Can it be recycled at the end of life?

record player fixed

St Lukes Repair Fair

Can you buy one that was locally made? It helps that some products come with ratings for energy efficiency. I often look at Ethical Consumer Magazine for reviews. Also, you can ask on Facebook on a page like ours, or sustainable(ish) with jen gale’, and people will often answer.

For fruit and veg, there are some good local options, like Carpenters Nursery and Box Local.  For dried food and household goods, there is the Refill Pantry and Eat Whole Foods.Carpenters veg


As well as your purchases, think about your pension and investments.  have you asked your pension provider if they offer a fossil-fuel free pension? They probably don’t yet, but the more people that ask, the more likely it is to happen. They might well have an ethical option to consider.  Do you want to move any investments you have away from fossil fuel companies? If you are a high net worth investor, you might even consider investing in green start-ups.

green heart.png

(3) Influence the people around you.

You’re reading this blog, so you care, and probably making changes already. Stop and think about who in your life you might be able to influence, and how.  This stuff is difficult, but not impossible.

  • Start small. Could you speak to the people you live with about turning down the thermostat? 
  • Could you speak to extended family about not giving “stuff” as presents and instead buying experiences or trips?
  • If your work involves plane trips could you speak to your boss about flying less?
  • Could you speak to the kids’ headmaster about helping fundraise for solar panels?
  • Could you speak to your vicar or imam about putting Eco Churches or Eco Mosques on the agenda of the management committee?
  • Could you write to your councillor or MP and tell them you care about climate and ask them what they are personally doing?

Stop for a minute and write down a list of the people you could speak to, and about what. Word of mouth is amazing.



(4) Join local groups and achieve more as a community.

Our district has lots of fabulous groups of committed people, working to improve the environment, and build stronger communities, in different ways.  They are fuelled by volunteer time and effort of all sorts.

It can be anything from the odd hour here or there, with no ongoing commitment, like going on a litter pick, to regular commitments as a trustee, a fundraiser, a comms person, or a project manager.

ver valley riverfly

There are so many groups working across the district … just look at the SustFest programme for inspiration.

If you can’t see a group that hits the spot, then start one.  Every project Sustainable St Albans has ever run started (Thermal Imaging Camera; Playing Out; Open Food Gardens; Electric Bike Day) with a passionate volunteer.

(5) Normalise it, by talking about it. 

This is the simplest and the hardest action all at once. It needs to become normal for people to talk about the climate emergency e and the terrible effects it will have, if we don’t make radical change quickly.

You can really help by simply talking about it to people.

These don’t need to be big, earnest conversations, unless the other person welcomes this.  A short comment, and a very brief explanation is enough.  Try these on for size.



  • What did you do at the weekend? “I went for a bike ride. I stopped riding my bike for years, but I’m back on it now and really enjoying it. I love feeling I’m getting some exercise and not contributing to all the pollution.
  • What are you getting for lunch? “I think today I’ll try something vegan. I read at the weekend it makes a real difference, so I’ll give it a go today.”
  • Where are you going for holiday this summer? “We’re thinking of getting the Eurostar to Amsterdam and then hiring bikes. We thought we’d try and get through the year without flying.

Don’t be afraid that you don’t know all the answers. You can say how you feel without needing to be the expert.

  • Have you watched the David Attenborough documentary about climate change yet? It really scared me, but it’s definitely worth seeing.”  
  • “What do you think about the kids striking? I kind of admire them, raising their voices about something so important for their future.”

By making small steps, spending wisely, influencing others, joining forces, and normalising climate conversations, we can each can have a real impact.

So what’s stopping you? The end of SustFest19 could be just the beginning…

Ayletts growing sustainability

Ayletts Nursery invites you to clear out your unwanted plastic garden pots and take them to Ayletts for recycling. You know you want to forage in the shed and declutter!

But did you know how much they do to reduce their carbon footprint on site? Louise Canfield from Ayletts, a Silver Sponsor of the 2019 Sustainability Festival, said:

“We are passionate about plants and growing towards a sustainable future”


They have a fabulous display in the front shop – all about the work they are doing to ensure they recycle their packaging and reducing their carbon footprint. They have also started to use fully recyclable pots for their own planst.Ayletts recycling

They grow a large selection of their own plants on site, including Dahlia’s, Cyclamen, Geraniums, Fuchsias, Poinsettias, Primroses and Polyanthus – and are conscious of the need to source British grown plants and encourage customers to #growtheirown.

100 per cent recyclable

They have a compute controlled greenhouse environment to keep energy consumption at its more efficient and they monitor water use daily. Rainwater is collected for use in their Houseplant department.

To reduce electricity they have worked with Ideal lights and the Carbon Trust, and have replaced 99% of the lighting in the Garden Centre with LED equivalents reducing their carbon footprint by 30 metric tonnes.

In 2018 they recycled

  • 33 Wheelie Bins (2.16 tonnes) of glass
  • 26 Bales (4 tonnes) of plastic

It’s great to see local businesses taking environmental sustainability to heart and joining in with #SustFest19




Feeling the crisis – moving forward to hope and possibility. Metamorphosis.

Metamorphosis is a film that takes us on a journey – from the beginning, where we explore what change means to us; to seeing the climate and extinction crisis fully, embracing the crisis – through to a world of new possibilities.
Sunday 26 May at The Odyssey Cinema Book here #SustFest19


We start by questioning;  what gets in the way of change, what do we do to resist change – how can we be empowered by change?


A safe shelter for possibilities to unfold; a sanctuary to go within to find out what’s next. A place for transformation. Journey of discovery…What kind of world can we see in the future – how can we protect, or prepare our future generations?

26-5 Metamorphosis-820x461


We are witnesseing powerful things..these change us.  For example the forest fires in the US and elsewhere  – they show how devastating climate change can be. Not only a collapsed house but collapsed communities…where everything just disappears…loss and grief…damages the foundations….Imagining getting through this to reverse the tide of destruction..


The release, cleansing, coming out of darkness into light. First we get into the heart of the crisis, learning about it, how to fully feel the crisis – we somehow move through it so we are not paralysed. First you have to feel the crisis, feel and understand the extinction of species, the destruction of our bioshsphere –  and not get completely overwhelmed. Embracing the challenge and difficulty, moving forward, having been changed by that process – a strength comes out of that.


This is about finding a way to balance – movng towards and exploring mutually enriching relationships –  human relationships with the eco-systems – harmony, balance.. and human relationships to each other – relationships contributing to each others well being, and success. What might be possible between humans and the earth and humans and each other?

It is important to hear stories that help open up a vision of where we can go. New isdeas embodying basic design principles of repurposing; using what is already there. All the elements helping other elements to thrive. Alternative ways of organising communities like the provision of solar panels to people living in more deprived communities.
The ideas; feeling the hope and the possibilities. Believing in our resilience, our ingenuity. We can wake up in time.


What makes our city sustainable?

Place is such an important factor in identity. When you meet someone, your first question is most likely ‘Where are you from?’ The pride that may (or may not) come from the answer given is what I work to foster in St Albans. As #SustFest19 will tell you, sustainability is not just about reduce/reuse/recycle. While important, elements around community cohesion, mental wellbeing and business viability all contribute to a city’s sustainability.

Gin & Jazz 2018 Stephanie Belton (3)

Credit: Stephanie Belton 2018

Today’s blog is written by Helen Burridge, Business Manager of St Albans Bid – which is sponsoring the #SustFest19 St Albans Market Takeover on Sunday 19th May.

St Albans businesses care deeply about the viability of this city. The economic confidence of the community, the visitors, the employees and the residents will translate into economic prosperity for its businesses. Three years ago, the businesses in St Albans voted to become a Business Improvement District, paying a small contribution into a pot that collectively makes a significant contributor to events, public realm, safety and marketing of the City. The BID can also help to represent those businesses in various discussions with the public and private sectors on a local, regional and national level.

As the BID Manager of St Albans BID it’s my job to make sure that the investment made by the BID Members makes the city a great place to live, work and do business, both now and in the future, and of course a large part of that work then becomes looking at ways to make the city more sustainable, in the many and various ways that that covers.


While I will acknowledge the ongoing wailing and gnashing of teeth about the ‘death of the high street’ in fact, there is an argument to say that this change in retail is actually the death throes of consumerism itself. A change from ‘want/have’ economics to ‘need/consider’ economics: the desperate and hysterical consumption of the 80s and 90s now looks decidedly distasteful and is being replaced by a borrow/reuse/packaging free/fewer-better kind of purchasing.

TimeTurn 2018 Credit Stephanie Belton (42)

Credit: Stephanie Belton

St Albans as a City is well placed to survive this change in consumer behaviour. The self-selecting curation of our retail businesses (you will find an audience if your product is good) is continuing to be demonstrated by reliable, quality local (and national) brands weathering the current climate and providing confident, good-news stories about customer experience, quality product and curated taste-making. On the internet, endless choice is overwhelming. In St Albans you will find a quality offer, selected by informed businesses, helping you to make reasoned decisions about where you shop, where you eat and where you socialise.

small bid logo picture - 19.12.2017In the wider community there are many and various entrepreneurial and disruptive businesses considering these changes in consumer behaviour and working to appeal to a considered and engaged local population. Can you eat vegan or vegetarian? Can you buy locally grown or locally made products? Can you go plastic-free, or packaging-free? Can you travel in a way that is more kind to the environment while still being relevant to what you need to get through your day? There are so many options and it can be overwhelming to know where to start to live a more sustainable life.

With this in mind, St Albans BID is delighted to sponsor the St Albans Market Takeover on Sunday 19 May. Bringing together like-minded businesses to prevent the many and various ways that small interventions by individuals can make a collective difference will help to show that actually these changes are not that insurmountable.

St Albans BID supports the Market Takeover because it’s the right thing to do, but also because the day will be fun, engaging, illuminating and most importantly, it will encourage and support enough individuals to make small changes that will, collectively make a large impact. Just like BID. Looking forward to seeing you there!


I dare you to care: a Climate Emergency in St Albans

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you the Earth is getting warmer. The news has already told you that. You don’t need me to tell you that fossil fuels are bad, and renewables are good. You know that.  And you definitely don’t need me to tell you that, without change, we’re heading directly for extinction. But maybe what you don’t know is why should you care.

Today’s blog is written by Anna  Hardisty  age 20 years – university student at Warwick , and St Albans resident.

A Critical Junction

The Earth is at a critical junction. Imagine you booked yourself in for a driving test, nine months in advance. Now imagine that it’s almost two weeks before the test and you haven’t even stepped foot in a car. You’ve got your theory test tomorrow but that’s as far as you’ve got. I think it’s fair to say the appropriate response involves a fair amount of panic. And probably frantic searching for an intensive two-week course. This is the Earth’s current dilemma. The generations before us have spent the last 70 years ignoring the problem they were creating.  The consequence is a ticking time bomb with an expected explosion date of eleven years from now. Unlike a driving test, this can’t be rescheduled, and the ramifications are unbelievably more severe.

Ed note: The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. UN Report on Climate Change

The UK is currently failing to reach its target of reducing its carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change has just recommended the UK aims to be carbon neutral by 2050

Climate Refugees

By 2050 the World Bank predicts that 140 million people are likely to be climate refugees. That’s 140 million mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, babies, grandmas, grandpas, friends, neighbours, husbands, wives, doctors, soldiers, bankers, bakers, engineers, teachers, classmates, lawyers, and scientists displaced directly by global warming. They are unable to live in their homes and are forced to seek shelter and help; this would be an unprecedented refugee crisis. To give you some perspective, that’s equivalent to the whole of Russia becoming homeless. Or three UKs. Or half of the USA. The UN estimates 13.5 million were displaced by the crisis in Syria. Cast your minds back to a few years ago to the panic created by the refugee crisis then and multiply it by ten. 2050 is catastrophically too late

Let’s create a sustainable future for our world

The  Climate Emergency Petition calls for carbon neutrality for St Albans District Council by 2030.*  Eleven years sounds like a long time but in the grand scheme of things, it’s equivalent to that two-week intensive driving course you were panickily googling for earlier. Ambitious but not out of reach. We’re calling on the St Albans Council to act and use their power to make decisions that will benefit us and all those that follow. It’s time to do what the generations before us failed to do- create a sustainable future for our world.

And the truth is, it is change or have our lives changed for us. I’m twenty years old and, by current UK statistics, have another sixty years or so left on this planet. I want to have the freedoms my parents did. I want to pick a house not based solely on its likelihood of flooding. I want my children to grow up not in constant fear of famine, wildfire or war over resources. I want to be able to watch ‘Bananas in Pyjamas and ‘Happy Feet’ with the kids I babysit, without them thinking the casts are mythical creatures.

“Are we being good ancestors?”

This is a question posed to us by Jonas Salk, pioneer of the first polio vaccination. It’s not a question that crosses your mind often, if at all, as we’re understandably preoccupied with the demands of the here and now. But our future depends on keeping that question in mind constantly- when we’re choosing how to travel, what we buy at the supermarket, and who we vote for.

Sign the Climate Emergency Petition

So, sign the petition. Tell your friends. Tell your parents. Get them to sign it. Sustainable St Albans has a great list of events where you can learn about the difference you can make.

And the next time you hear about the greenhouse effect, the next time you see yet another hurricane on the news, the next time you see MPs shy away from the subject, I dare you to care. 

Anna Hardisty

*Editor note: Net zero by 2030 should be achievable for a district council with no airport or shipping in its patch, and no major imports to tackle

What difference can one person make?

I lead a busy life, in a busy city, surrounded by busy people. I have a car, take flights now and then, buy things, charge my phone, eat out, buy coffee… agh, I am killing the planet!

It is very easy (and tempting) to think, sod it, it’s too hard to make changes that will help the planet, but this week’s blog is about easy things we can all do.

Yes, there are people who are really good at this stuff. They cycle everywhere, never go abroad, eat vegan food, and recycle everything. This blog is for those of us who know we could do a bit more. Sounds like you? Here are 10 painless ways to make a difference:

This week’s blog is written by Becky Alexander, food columnist for The Herts Advertiser.

1. Get involved with the Sustainability Festival starting this week (11 May until 1 June). There are 160 events across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. Most are free.

2. If you do one thing, make it the Market Takeover on Sunday 19th May on St Peter’s MarketStreet. The food will be great – Peddling Pizza, Farr Brew, Pudding Stop, Tara’s Vegan Treats, The Green Kitchen, Redbournbury Mill, Rainforest Creations, Crumbs n’ All and many more. There will be live music, shopping, try out an electric bike, see electric cars and more. The market is on 11-5 – see you there!


3. Book at least one of the cool events during SustFest. How about Dining with a Conscience at Lussmanns St Albans with Rubies in the Rubble; Bread-making for beginners; Bee-keeping; Vegan buffet and quiz night; or the Eat vegan cookery lesson. Dates and info are on

Refill pantry portrait

4. Try a refill shop. I love The Refill Pantry on London Road – you fill up paper bags or your own containers with all sorts of goodies, from chocolate buttons to granola. Eat WholeFoods in Fleetville and on the market is great too. It’s an easy way to cut back on the amount of single-use packaging you buyBuy your veggies from a local box scheme or farm shop – Box Local are offering a Sustainable Local Produce Box for £16 during SustFest and Carpenters have a 10% discount on all their fruit and veg if you take in a SustFest programme – these are fab places to shop for super-fresh veggies and fruit, so low food miles.

What difference does one water bottle make? Ask 69 million people. *

5. Stop buying water and drinks in plastic bottles. We are lucky to have freely available tap water in our homes and offices; if you don’t like the taste (really?) add refillcucumber, squash or lemon. Take an old bottle out with you; many places will refill it for you – and if you download the Refill app you can find places around St Albans that have signed up to do this. Did you know St Pancras station has a policy that you can ask any outlet for a water refill?

6. If you’re feeling really guilty take yourself off to a local litter pick or do a beach clean this summer – it’s an eye opener to see how much plastic rubbish lines our streets.

7. If you work in an office do you really need to buy a take-out coffee in a single-use cup? It doesn’t make you look busy and buzzy like in an American police drama; it just looks wasteful. You could save, what, 200 disposable cups a year by taking your own? Even if the cups say they can be recycled or composted, we don’t have enough facilities in the UK. Most are going to landfill and incineration – look it up.

Nkora St Albans

Nkora St Albans

8. Eat veggie and vegan food more often. See my last blog for ideas, but this one is pretty easy. Apparently, Brits eat twice as much protein as we need and eating cows is even worse for the planet than flying. Stop eating beef and that’s an easy change.

9. Recycle your food waste. I do this by putting it in my green caddy in plastic bread bags (you don’t need to buy special bags, the machine shakes it all out). It all goes to the Agrivert site over by Willows Farm. I’ve been on the tour around there and it’s magic. The food waste gets used to make electricity and fertiliser. Easy win. If you fancy the tour to see how they do it sign up during SustFest.


Carpenters Farm Shop

10. Try and grow something. I went to an open edible garden a couple of years back and was inspired; I am not a natural gardener but we now have an apple tree, raspberries, blackcurrants and herbs (borage for your Pimms this summer?). You’ll be chuffed, and its good for wildlife (the slugs loved all my salad leaves). Visit one of the open gardens and allotments during the festival, and ask any questions you like.

I’m still working on stuff, but if we all do something, it’s a start. It’s much easier than gluing yourself to a building.

Becky Alexander

* Population of the UK, 2019

Making the case for angel investment in the Green Economy

Imagine the world in 10, maybe 20 years time. What will it look like? If we are to believe the conclusion of COP 24 in Katowice at the end of last year, and the publication of the IPCC Report shortly before it, the natural world is now irrevocably committed to the warming trend.

We are urgently in need of transformative science and the technology that can change the inevitability of this trend within the next 10 years. Our problem is that these technologies have not been invented – yet. The need is visible, the solutions are not – yet.

That ‘yet’ is the case for angel investment in the Green Economy.

Today’s blog is from Nick Lyth, Founder of Green Angel Syndicate, a Silver Sponsor of the 2019 Sustainability Festival. If you’re interested, book to come along to their #SustFest19 event at Lussmanns St Albans on Thursday 23rd May

Intervening in the Green Economy

Humans have always intervened in the Green Economy to modify, accelerate, improve, divert and harvest the resources nature has presented to us, so that we can make more of them. But we have never before tried to change the direction of nature’s travel.

We have diverted rivers, built dams, formed mill-streams, created fish stocks, we have built huge agrarian developments for the growing of crops, we have fenced off land, deforested regions. And so we have surrendered parts of the world, like the Nile Valley, as it grew hotter, allowed other parts of the world, like the US, to become free of the huge stocks of bison as the human population took over. We have made no attempt to preserve the cold regions of our planet.

So what is the technology that we need now to reverse the warming trend and create a world that will effectively support a population well in excess of 8 billion, and quite probably closer to 10 billion?

We need transformative technologies, capable of deep change, quickly.

Technology in action

Rovco photoSolutions are being worked on. This is one of the most active areas of innovation certainly in western development and possibly in global development. Inventors and innovators are turning their attention to the problem. This is where the smart money is going and the pace of innovation is increasing in proportion to the perceived rewards of success.

The challenge is to find the right investments to make, and that is where Green Angel Syndicate can help.

Green Angel Syndicate

We are an angel syndicate making early stage investments in the development of the technologies we need. We aim to select those which are destined for success long before such success is necessarily obvious, but the need is so great that success or failure will happen quickly. We concentrate on those sectors which will have the greatest influence – energy, food, water, transport.

Green Angel Syndicate is the only angel syndicate in the UK specialising in this way, which makes it unique, and uniquely-well equipped to judge what will succeed and what won’t.

A flavour of where we invest

The Green Angel Syndicate portfolio companies are diverse in both scale and sector. A full list is on our website at Here are some examples:


Entomics photoEntomics develops targeted value-added engineering and biological tools for optimising the insect-based bioconversion of low value waste feedstocks – such as food waste and manure – into high value agricultural products like chicken and fish feed.


Swytch photoAn easy-fit conversion kit that can turn any bike into an eBike at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new electric bike.


Piclo Flex is the independent marketplace for buying and selling smart grid flexibility services. The platform takes the proven model of running flexibility auctions and supercharges it with the latest web design and matching algorithms.


Spinetic’s radical ultra-low-cost energy harvesting panel technology will replicate in wind the success of solar PV at community scale.

SustFest dinner

Green Angel Syndicate are delighted to be supporting the Sustainable St Albans Festival from 11th May to 1st June 2019.

We are hosting a dinner at Lussmanns St Albans for any high net worth investor who may be interested in angel investing in the green economy. More details, and booking, are available at

Do come and see how your investment and your involvement can make a substantial impact for companies developing the technologies we need to combat climate change.

How do you cope with the nappies, wet wipes, sippy cups, plastic spoons….

My children used 12,000 nappies and 36,000 wet wipes between them by the time they were 2 years old. They also used 12 toddler sippy cups, 20 plastic plates, 18 bowls, and 30 plastic spoons and forks.

All of which ended up in landfill.

Today our guest blog is from Laura aka Mama Bamboo – a SustFest19 Silver Sponsor and organiser of the 1st June Verulamium Park Sustainable Picnic and taking part in the Market Takeover 19th May

The council doesn’t offer industrial composting for nappies, the wipes were the polyester kind from the supermarket and the plastic tableware was so scored and worn that I couldn’t pass it to charity.

Guilt! Guilt! More guilt! 

I started my company, Mama Bamboo, to try and reverse the awful damage I had inflicted on the environment in 4 short years. Bamaboo eco-nappies are made from bamboo, corn starch and chlorine free wood pulp. We use semi degradable SAP and package them in biodegradable wrapping. Bamaboo wipes are 100% compostable bamboo fibre. Our products offer babies a luxuriously soft and gentle product for their delicate skin. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, temperate regulating, breathable and moisture wicking. All of which means less chance of nappy rash.

It’s also very sustainable. Bamboo grows at an amazing rate during its growing season and when harvested following the FSC guidelines it actually promotes forest growth. It requires no pesticides or fertilisers or even irrigation.

It’s also super adaptable. In addition to providing a soft cushiony fabric for nappies, it can be used to make hardwearing tableware! Amazing.

babyI’ve carefully developed a range of bamboo fibre tableware for toddlers and young children, featuring 8 adorable characters from the ENVU Cubs Club based on the WWF endangered species list. They are dishwasher safe, durable and wonderfully tactile. Each set is accompanied by a little storycard introducing your chosen character and giving little ones a few fun facts. It also explains why each animal is on the Endangered and Vulnerable species list, thereby engaging youngsters in early discussion regarding conversation. 5% of all profits are donated to WWF.

We will be supporting the St Albans Sustainability Festival because it is so important for conservations to start at home. We live just outside St Albans in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside and I think it’s an environment worth protecting. We’ll be at the SustFest Market takeover on the 19th May and we’ll be hosting a Sustainable Picnic in the Park on the 1st June. We would love to see you there.


Laura a.k.a. Mama Bamboo

ECOED Challenge and Green Living

We are ECOED LIFE and our mission is to make sustainable living accessible. We believe that no matter how small your actions may seem, they and you are making a big difference.

This week’s blog is from the ECOED LIFE team – why not join in the ECOED challenge for #SustFest19 – download the app before Thursday 9th May

Join the ECOED Challenge during SustFest in StAlbans!

ecoednewgame  With our quiz game app ECOED (that works on most mobile phones and tablets that have iOS or android), you can challenge your family and friends to find out who knows the most about sustainable living.

The game app also gives you tips on actions that you can take at home or in your workplace or school to make a positive difference; like how to create a rain garden, how to reduce food waste or reducing your use of single-use plastics.

Imagine that you decide to cycle to work rather than taking the car. That means one less car on the roads, reducing air pollution and emission of greenhouse gases. Now imagine that not just you decide to leave the car at home, but also your neighbour, your best friend and the new guy who just moved in at the end of the road – that is four cars off the road resulting in even better air quality and less emissions (which are a cause for bigger impact on us and our planet through climate change) – and less congestion. Extend that to their best friends, cousins, aunts…. and so on – you get the picture!

Step-by-step through small changes in your daily habits you can make a difference towards a healthier lifestyle, reduce your environmental footprint and be kinder to our planet and everyone upon it.

So – join the ECOED Challenge which takes place between 11 – 18 May. All you have to do ecoedfamilyis download the free ECOED game app (available on Google Play or App Store) AND start playing – by registering on this link:

Getting a question right or completing an action will give you points and coins – and three winners will be receiving eco-prizes.

Learn more about Green Living

The winners of the ECOED gaming challenge will be presented with their prizes at the Green Living with ECOED event on 1 June.

At this event we will also have short talks about what it means to live a more sustainable lifestyle, discussions, tips and ideas on actions you can take to make a difference and activities suitable for the whole family.ecoedsmall

You can book the Green Living event on our Facebook page – it is FREE, so bring your family and friends!

Book here:

Looking forward to seeing you on 1 June!

Reci, Turby, Wavi, Halt and the ECOED LIFE Team


Could you go veggie? St Albans-based food writer Becky Alexander tells us how she got on

So, what’s the number one food trend in the UK at the moment? I’ve been a food writer in St Albans for 10 years and the most dramatic change I have seen has been the shift away from eating meat.

Go in to any cafe, restaurant, pub or coffee shop (we love coffee shops!) and you will find vegetarian and vegan food – this just wasn’t the case two years ago. Even people who eat meat, are eating less.

This week’s blog is written by Becky Alexander, food columnist for The Herts Advertiser.

Until 18 months ago, I ate meat – not loads, but usually a roast on a Sunday with the family (we have two teenage daughters) and the occasional midweek chicken curry or pork chop or sausages. And then that changed. I am now vegetarian (well, I eat fish occasionally), and I often get asked about how that is going, especially by friends when we are reading menus and deciding what to order.

A lightbulb moment?


So, what changed? What was the lightbulb moment for me? Climate change was one – raising cows to eat is really bad for greenhouse gases, compared to other food sources.

The vegan and vegetarian movement was impossible to ignore – everywhere I went to review had interesting veggie options on the menu and magazines and newspapers were full of recipes. Images of factory farming – you have to have a tough stomach to be happy with those.

I also work in food book publishing and every new book was about vegan and plant-based food. Joe Wicks, The Hairy Bikers and Jamie Oliver have written them – veggie food is now mainstream. If you need some easy ideas, head to Waterstones and you will be spoilt for choice!


3 books

Cooking veggie food is cheaper, more interesting, and for me, healthier. As a family we now eat a much broader range of ingredients and far more vegetables, which has to be a good thing.

My new way of thinking is that if you don’t have to eat meat, then why would you? Government NHS guidelines say we don’t need meat very often, and red meat rarely. If you are worried about not getting enough iron and protein in your diet then have a chat with a nutritionist – and bear in mind that eating processed meat isn’t great for you either.

So, how can you cut back on eating meat?

Maybe start with lunchtime – next time you are buying your work lunch in Pret or M&S or wherever, choose something new. I really like the avo, olive and pine nut baguette in Pret. Hummus, falafel and cheese are easy choices too.

Eating out is a good way to try a new ingredient. We have great Turkish restaurants in St Albans for example, the natural home of delicious aubergine dips and falafel. I think I first tried roast cauliflower in Tabure, and now love it.

I had an excellent veggie burger in The Meating Room with the kids the other day. The Courtyard Cafe is a great place for good veggie food (they are making a special Sumptuous Soup throughout SustFest).

multi 157 courtyard cafe

Sumptuous Soup made with local ingredients including herbs from the cafe garden and organic veg from Earthworks at The Courtyard Cafe #SustFest19

Indian restaurants are ace at vegetarian food – dahls and chickpea curries are what people in India have eaten forever. Try tofu in a Chinese or Japanese restaurant and you will see how it is meant to taste – delicious, I promise! And more authentic than over-sweetened chicken in a sauce of some kind.

I’ve eaten fantastic veggie food in Loft, the Abbey and The Ivy – great chefs can be very creative so you don’t need to feel you are missing out when you go out for dinner. (It’s cheaper too.)

And it’s great for the planet!

Vegetarian food is officially better for the planet. In the Guardian a while back, there was a report[1] by research scientists at Oxford University that claimed:

Avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth.’

 Wow! That’s quite a claim.

According to the scientists, not eating meat has more impact than not flying or driving! That’s a pretty painless way to do your bit for the planet.

Why not try one of the events at SustFest for more ideas? Maybe a vegan brunch at Charlie’s or a cooking class? And then just take it a meal, a day or a week at a time – if everyone does that, we can make a real difference.

[1] (J Poore and T Nemecek, Science, June 2018) and Damian Carrington, Guardian, May 2018.

See individual SustFest Climate Actions here

Sustainable Food #SustFest19 Events here and see below

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12noon – 2pm

Bread and cheese lunch to support Christian Aid using delicious locally sourced, organic and vegetarian ingredients.
Where St Stephen’s Church Hall, Watling St, St Albans AL1 2PT
Info 01727 862598

4pm – 6pm

Sample some delicious dairy and egg-free dishes. Chat about vegan foods, try different plant milks and learn how to make your cooking animal free.
Where The Green Kitchen Cafe, Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL4 0XP
Info 01727 753661

13TH – 30TH MAY


13TH – 30TH MAY
FOOD / £16

A box of locally sourced produce delivered to you. 6 different types of fruit and veg, 100g of Wobbly Bottom goat’s cheese, 6 free range eggs and a jar of honey.
Info Order by Mon 13th for delivery Thur 16th, Mon 20th for Thur 23rd, Mon 27th for Thur 30th


7pm for 7.30pm sit down

Lussmanns flagship sustainable St Albans restaurant teams up with ‘war on waste’ ambassador Rubies in the Rubble for a stunning 4-course vegetarian dinner.
Where Lussmanns Waxhouse Gate, High St, St Albans AL3 4EW
Info Booking essential


12noon – 2.15pm

Part 1: Come and cook with me and pick up tips on sourcing local produce, saving energy and reducing waste while making delicious vegetarian food to take home. For part 2 see Friday 17th May.
Where The Cobbled Kitchen, 69 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BY
Info Book via 


12noon – 2pm

At our regular lunch club, held on Tuesday and Thursday, we will be eating our greens by offering a vegetarian menu. 3 courses are £5; free tea and coffee.
Where Caledon Community Centre, Caledon Rd, London Colney AL2 1PU
Info 01727 821314

2pm – 3pm

Come along to Café on the Corner to watch a short film created by people we support at Camphill St Albans. It will show what they do to contribute to being environmentally sustainable in St Albans.
Where Café on the Corner, 39 Catherine St, St Albans AL3 5BJ

7pm – 9.30pm

Bread making is easy, come and try it for yourself. No experience necessary. Bring a bowl, 1-pint jug, 1lb metal bread tin, apron.
Where Church Hall, SS Alban and Stephen RC Church, 14 Beaconsfield Rd, St Albans AL1 3RB
Info Book via email


12noon – 2.15pm

Part 2: Come and cook with me! Learn how to increase the veg content of your diet and use leftovers imaginatively. Take home lots of delicious veggie food too!
Where The Cobbled Kitchen, 69 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BY
Info Book via


Two sittings 9am or 11am

FOOD / £29pp / BOOK
3-course vegan brunch to start your Suday. From team Charlie’s and chefs from Chappell and Caldwell. Thoughtfully sourced food; sustainable focus; plenty of coffee!
Where Charlie’s Coffee and Company, 87 London Rd, St Albans AL1 1LN
Info Book at

11am – 5pm

Over 60 stalls from businesses and charities showcasing: holidays without flying, home energy, eco friendly food, looking after our town, low carbon shopping, live bands, street food, electric cars, bikes and bike repair, e-bikes for you to ride and more!
Where St Albans Market, St Peters St, St Albans
Info Click here for more information about Market Takeover

10.30am – 1.30pm

Talk by a Tearfund representative about how to live sustainably followed by vegetarian lunch in the large hall. Part of regular morning worship at St Pauls.
Where St Paul’s Church, Blandford Rd, St Albans AL1 4JP


7pm – 9pm

Enjoy dinner at Lussmanns and discover the potential value to you of angel investments in the Green Economy, from the UK’s leading specialists.
Where Lussmanns, Waxhouse Gate, High St, St Albans AL3 4EW


3.30pm – 5.30pm

Can you pack a picnic without using any single use plastic – or even no plastic? Bring your picnic along with the family. Glean new ideas about going plastic free!
Where Nr the play park, Batford Springs, Harpenden



Have fun playing those nostalgic, traditional games from way back including; dominoes, chess, battleships, Guess Who and Jenga! Vegan buffet included. BYOB.
Where United Reform Church, Homewood Rd, St Albans AL1 4BH
Info 01727 753661


12noon – 2pm

Sustainable picnic. Bring along your crudités in bamboo snack boxes, your beeswax wrapped delights and your home-made bites and join us for a picnic in the park.
Where Verulamium Park, St Albans, by kids play park.
Info 07966 406993. Cancelled in bad weather.

INCLUSIVE 11th May to 1st June


Our community cafe will have daily specials promoting healthy eating!
Where Cross Street Centre Cafe, 1 Cross St, St Albans AL3 5EE
Info Facebook: @crossstreetcentre

11TH MAY – 1ST JUNE During Opening Hours

For SustFest the cafe will serve Sumptuous Sustainable Soup, made with local ingredients including herbs from the cafe garden and organic veg from Earthworks.
Where The Courtyard Cafe, 11 Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL1 3RR



Heading for Extinction (and what to do about it)

Are you worried about climate change?  David Attenborough certainly is.  Addressing international climate talks last year, he called it “Our greatest threat in thousands of years…. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

We are really excited to present our  guest blog this week  from Dr Emily Spry – one of the founding members of the newly formed Extinction Rebellion St Albans

According to mainstream scientists, we have 12 years to limit the coming climate catastrophe.  Our current course leads to more extreme weather events, sea rises, food shortages, mass extinctions and large areas of our planet becoming literally uninhabitable.  Most worryingly, as temperatures rise, there is a tipping point, where feedback loops, such as the lack of sea ice leads to further warming, kick in and cannot be stopped by reducing fossil fuel use.  In other words, not just polar bear extinction but human extinction is very much on the table.

Ok, so why on earth is no one doing anything?!  Surely, this is an emergency?! Individual actions (pledging not to fly, insulating your house etc) are all well and good but rely on the few informed citizens making those choices, against the prevailing culture.  What we need is rapid and massive change at all levels of the system.

rebel for life banner

XR rebels 2018

Extinction Rebellion was born in 2018 to use the powerful tools of non-violent civil disobedience to bring the issue to centre stage.   Hundreds of Rebels, from all walks of life, have blocked roads, disrupted oil industry meetings and Government buildings and many have been arrested.  It’s a fast-growing movement, with over 150 groups around the country and many more springing up across the world.  The biggest actions so far will be happening in London from 15th April 2019.  Everyone is welcome and everyone is needed to help this movement grow.

XR worldwide

Extinction Rebellion groups worldwide – March 2019

I have two young kids.  I feel scared and deeply sad to think that when my eldest daughter turns 18, it will already be too late to limit the worst of the climate catastrophe.  By that point, human extinction may already be inevitable.

I can’t be sure that this Rebellion will help kickstart the changes we need, but there’s no doubt that carrying on as usual will not.  Please come along this Tuesday 12th March and find out more. Everyone is welcome, everyone is needed.

Professor Kate Jeffery and Dr Emily Spry will give a talk Heading for Extinction (and What to do About It) on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM at Trinity URC, 1 Beaconsfield Rd, St Albans AL1 3RD.

Dr Emily Spry


Follow us on social media to find out more.




Can toilet paper ever be environmentally friendly?

According to the Confederation of Paper Industries, 1.3 million tonnes of tissue is used in the UK every year, with 1.1 million of it being imported into the UK.

How many trees does it take to make 1 ton of paper?

logs marcin-kempa-UJFdzFReEtY-unsplashAccording to data from the Global Forest Resource Assessment roughly 80,000 to 160,000 trees are cut down each day around the world with a significant percentage being used in the paper industry. WWF in an article ‘Price of Toilet Paper for the planet’ say that the amount of wood harvested annually may need to triple by 2050 to meet projected global demands for all industries—including pulp and paper.

Why are Trees Good for the Planet?
Trees absorb CO2. They need it to grow. In return, they release oxygen which helps us breathe. Talk about a win-win scenario.

Only 30% of the world’s population uses toilet roll
Alex Crumbie researcher for Ethical Consumer which did research into ethical toilet paper in 2019 said: “Only around 30% of the world’s population uses toilet roll,” Crumbie added, “so we know that there are lots of perfectly hygienic alternatives to using paper-based products. It’s important we consider what we’re using to wipe our behinds with, because at the moment our precious planet is getting a bum deal.”

The Ethical Consumer report said that when buying toilet paper you should consider these questions:

  • Is it Recycled?
  • Is it made from recycled fibre
  • Is packaging recycled?

If it carries the label FSC Mix it will have been made using virgin wood pulp. There is no need to cut down forests to make toilet roll.

In 2005 Duncan Pollard, Head of WWF’s European Forest Programme said:

“Everyday about 270,000 trees are effectively flushed down the toilet or end up as garbage around the world, such a use of the forests is both wasteful and unnecessary.”

So, what are the alternatives?


bidetIs it time for the bidet to make a comeback in the UK? The woman who started reusable period pants in the US invented the Tushy – an attachable bidet spray for the toilet. In the UK similar attachments to the toilet are sold as Japanese toilets – see a range here

While you may need to use a small amount of tissue paper to dry, you will use MUCH less paper.


Bamboo and Recycled toilet paper and tissues.

bamboo BofgeVFG-_w-unsplash


Bamboo is more sustainable because it grows much more quickly, it regenerates itself, and it doesn’t contribute to deforestation. Plus, it absorbs up to 35% more carbon than similar plants.

Bamboo toilet paper is becoming more mainstream, too, meaning you can shop around to find the best deal.

Who Gives a Crap

You can find recycled and bamboo toilet paper from  Who Gives A Crap (An Australian company so you have to consider the environmental issues of transporting it to other countries) .
They give half their profits to: non-profit organisations working to improve access to hygiene, water and basic sanitation in developing countries.

Cheeky Panda

Chinese grown organic bamboo – the company uses carbon offsetting to offset emissions used in manufacture and transport from China to Felixstowe by sea.
Cheeky Panda’s statement on carbon offsetting says: To offset the carbon used in the production and transportation of our bamboo tissue produce we work with the World Land Trust to fund planting forest on Vietnam which completely offsets all emissions.

Sainsbury Recycled Toilet Paper

This is  UK produced @FSC certified which means: When you see the FSC logo on a label, you can buy forest products with confidence that you are helping to ensure our forests are alive for generations to come.

 Waitrose ECOlogical Toilet Paper

‘Made entirely from recycled paper. Our recycled toilet tissues start with recycled magazines, packaging and office waste. The wastepaper is sorted and only the best quality materials delivered to a UK mill. Next the paper is washed with water and printed ink; plastic and staples are removed. The cleaned paper pulp is pressed, hot air dried and rolled into ‘reels’. Excess water is re-used within the factory. Finally, the paper ‘logs’ are cut into individual toilet rolls, and packed ready for delivery to our stores.’

 Ecoleaf Recycled Toilet Paper

This is widely available online– the company makes recycled toilet roll with compostable packaging. We cannot find any indication that this is a UK company (let us know if you know more?) : Ecoleaf appears to be based in Dubai but their sellers say the product is manufactured in the UK.

‘In 1986 we launched the UK’s first 100% Recycled Paper Toilet Tissue, since then we’ve continued to develop the range.  All ecoleaf paper products are made from 100% recycled fibre sourced exclusively within the UK. Manufactured from 60%+ post-consumer waste supply streams, collected by local authorities, kerb side collections and bona fide waste merchants. The remaining waste fibre is made up from UK manufacturers’ waste such as printers’ trim and greeting card manufacturers’ waste. No chlorine-based chemistry is used in the production process. Sourced and then manufactured in the UK, every effort is made to maximise loads and minimise road miles. Bleach free.’


Some people are using reusable washable cloth wipes – an option that doesn’t’ generate too much enthusiasm – but it is an eco option.

Wet Wipes

Please don’t unless there are medical reasons. These are mainly created with plastic. When biodegradable – they are no less wasteful than toilet paper.

 So, what’s the best alternative to toilet paper?

So, while it is still not clear which alternative is likely to become the UK’s ‘go-to’ option, it seems likely that you are better using recycled or bamboo paper, rather than paper direct from virgin trees. Absolutely don’t buy toilet paper with the words FSC Mix on it – this means it comes from virgin trees.

And, if you’re re-designing your bathroom – perhaps consider installing a bidet or bidet attachment to your toilet.

Meanwhile the world is going mad to plant more trees – perhaps we should also put some energy into reflecting why and how we continue to waste this precious resource.




Save the Date SustFest2020

Sustainability Festival 2020

The Sustainability festival is unique as it is run by you – individuals and groups in the district encouraging each other to live with a lighter touch on the planet.

Welcome to the website for the Sustainability Festival 2020!

A working group for SustFest2020 has been meeting…plans prepared, fund-raising started… (as usual we have to fund-raise from scratch – so sponsors wanted!).. and events are now rolling in!

Volunteers from Sustainable St Albans charity and St Albans Friends of the Earth are already working hard to get the festival off the ground.

Dates will be: Saturday 23rd May to Sunday 7th June 2020

From residents’ associations running litter picks or local bike rides; pre-schools running events on reducing single-use plastic; schools holding eco-weeks on recycling; or businesses encouraging employees to use reusable water bottles. Why dont’t you organise something for the festival?

Bike repair

There will be art events, talks, walks, tours…

View original post 240 more words


Groups across the district are being asked to organise an event for the fifth Sustainability Festival in 2020 which will take place across two weeks from Saturday 23rd May to Sunday 7th June. Groups must register the event before 9th February.

For local businesses – from cafes to warehouses! For local community groups such as residents associations, women’s groups, wildlife groups, allotment groups and more. Includes all of our district’s faith groups – you can organise a walk -to -church day, or eco-mosque talk. Schools can be very creative; with school-based litter picks, or plastic recycling days, or creating art work on one of the environmental themes.

The festival is created by local groups; community; business; faith and schools (and other youth groups) in St Albans District, across St Albans, Harpenden, and villages such as Sandridge, London Colney, Redbourn and Wheathampstead.

Groups should organise an event that will take place during the festival weeks. The event must be about one of the ten themes of environmental sustainability – taken from Bioregional’s One Planet Living planet living themes whitepicFor more information about how to organise an event please look at the website