Caring For The Environment Is Cool Again!

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By Catherine Ross.

For a long time, it felt like caring about the environment was something a bit weird … a bit alternative.  Not something you would talk about at parties, let alone in boardrooms.

But recently, it feels like something is changing; in the last year environmental concerns have become mainstream in a way they haven’t been in my memory.  

Why? Three things: moneyairand plastic. Three of the basics of our modern lives.

Money

With money, it is the growing awareness of climate risk. Just this week, we see the World Economic Forum in Davos (hardly sandal-wearing vegan lefties) list environmental risks as 3 of the top 5 global risks in their Global Risks Survey.  They are telling us that the top 5 global risks include extreme weather events, natural disasters, and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Companies around the world are starting to pay significant attention to the issue of climate risk, both in their business models and in their investments.  Extreme weather events are estimated to have caused a total of $306 billion in damage in the United States last year, making 2017 the most expensive year on record for natural disasters.  New York City is divesting of around $5 billion of fossil fuels from it’s investments and meantime suing big oil for their part in climate change. The Norwegian trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund is dumping its oil and gas holdings.  They believe doing this will make the country’s wealth “less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices”.

Interested in hearing more on this issue? Come to our “Sustainable Money: Climate Risk and Investment” event during Sustainable St Albans Week : Tuesday 24th April, 7:30pm at Trinity United Reformed ChurchBeaconsfield Road, St Albans, AL1 3RD.  There will be speakers from CCLA, S&P Global, and Christian Aid.

Air

With air, it’s about the poor quality of the air we breath and it’s impacting on our health.  According to the UN, some 7 million premature deaths are linked to poor quality air every year worldwide.  The number of early deaths in the UK resulting from toxic air could be as high as 40,000 a year. Recent studies link poor air quality to mental health and even to suicide rates.

In St Albans, we’re conscious of the issues around the district, in spots like the Pea Hen junction.  Tests have revealed air pollutants at places in St Albans that exceed EU limits.  Both St Albans Friends of the Earth and the Green Party have been running local campaigns. St Albans Council has been encouraging us to take practical action by turning off our engines when we can, with their anti-idling campaign.  

Interested in hearing more on this issue? There will be sessions on air quality and what you can do to help at the Know How Festival, the final event of Sustainable St Albans Week: Sunday 29th April, drop-in 10am-4pm at Fleetville Junior School, 228 Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL1 4LW.

Plastic

And with plastic, of course we have seen the “Blue Planet effect”.  This powerful programme has brought right into our living rooms the issue of plastic waste damaging the world’s beautiful oceans and amazing wildlife. People are increasingly asking, “why are we taking such a precious commodity as oil, turning it into single-use items like straws and coffee cups, and then throwing it away?”  Blue Planet II has shown us that there is no “away”.  Just this morning, we hear that the coral reefs are entangled in plastic.    

Recently, there has been real progress.  The EU has “declared war” on plastic waste.  The rapid rise of the fabulous #RefusetheStraw campaign, including locally in St Albans and Harpenden, has seen the ditching of straws by chains like Weatherspoons and Wagamamas.  Pret a Manger have doubled the discount for bringing your own cup. 

Around nine billion fewer plastic bags have been used in England since the 5p tax was introduced. Will it soon become as strange to get a disposable coffee cup as it now is to get a plastic bag?

Interested in hearing more on this issue? Come to the launch of Plastic Free St Albans during Sustainable St Albans Week at the Plastic-free Picnic: Sunday 22nd April, 12-2pm in Highfield Park,  or at the film screening of A Plastic Ocean at The Odyssey, London Road on Sunday 22nd April in the evening – hopefully with a panel and discussion about how we can reduce single use plastics.

During Sustainable St Albans Week, well over a hundred local organisations will be showing that they care about the environmental by running events and activities.  Schools, community groups, faith groups, and local businesses will all be taking part.  You can take part; join our mailing list today and look out for the SustWeek18 programme from mid-March, online and at many locations around the district.  And let’s make talking about the climate just as normal as talking about the weather. 

 

CALLING ALL BUDDING YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHERS!

Sustainable St Albans Week 2018 Launches “Living St Albans” Photography Competition for School-Aged Children & Young People.

Children and young people in St Albans, Harpenden, and the surrounding areas are being invited to take part in “Living St Albans”, a photography competition showcasing sustainable living throughout the district.

The competition is open to anyone at Infant, Junior or Secondary School and prizes include £100 for the winner of each age category. There are also prizes for the best-combined entry (e.g. a photo montage) from a school, year, class, or youth group.

“The photo competition is a great way for young people to look at what’s going on around them and think about the impact we all have on our environment”. Miranda Wilkins, 17, studying A-levels at St Albans High School. Miranda, who enjoys taking photos when she’s out and about, also went to the Paris Climate Change conference in 2015 for Sustainable St Albans Week’s ‘Postcards to Paris’ initiative.

Participants are encouraged to use one of the 10 themes of environmental sustainability as a focus for their submission:

• Health and happiness
• Equity and local economy
• Culture and community
• Land and nature
• Sustainable water
• Local and sustainable food
• Materials and products
• Travel and transport
• Zero waste
• Zero carbon

Entrants have until 5pm on 29th March to submit their photograph, along with a short description (25 words max) explaining their work. More information and an entry form can be found here http://sustweek18photocomp.co.uk/

The top three photographs in each age category will be displayed at the “Know How Festival”, the final event of Sustainable St Albans Week 2018, on Sunday 29th April 2018. The photography exhibition will also be on show at a number of sites across the district.

“The photo competition is a new initiative to help get young people thinking about the environment, and to encourage participation in the Week”. Gail Jackson, Sustainable St Albans Week 2018 Communications Team.

Sustainable St Albans Week is from 21st – 29th April 2018 and you have until 15th January to register your event. More information about how to join in this award-winning local initiative is available on the website www.sustainablestalbans.org

Dreaming of a Green Christmas?

How to make the most of Christmas, whilst also being kinder to our community and environment.

1. TREES

A real Christmas tree seems an obvious choice. However, almost 8 million trees are purchased in December in the UK alone, resulting in intensive production and potentially a lot of waste. When purchasing a real tree, to ensure the tree has been grown sustainably, look out for the FSC- certification logo. After Christmas, see if you can get your tree recycled. If you have an artificial tree, keep using it, make it last for as long as possible. Sites such as freecycle can help you source a pre-loved one.

2. GIFTS

This is where you can be really creative. Homemade crafts and foods make for great gifts. If you are looking to save money, why not offer to do something nice for someone instead by issuing free “Christmas Gift Cheques”? You can find these online, where you can download and print as many as you need. When shopping for presents, consider buying from local shops and market traders.

3. FOOD

You can make a considerable difference to a more sustainable Christmas by considering your food habits over the festive period. Going vegetarian for part of the holidays can reduce your environmental impact. When it comes to meat, try to source organic meat and consider ways to make your festive roasts last longer. Reducing food waste is also very important – be creative with leftovers, think about what you can freeze, or maybe plate up some leftovers for an elderly neighbour, food bank or soup kitchen?

4. DECORATIONS

Most of us love festive decorations, elaborate wrapping paper and receiving Christmas cards. However, it is estimated that paper waste over Christmas produces the equivalent of several million litres of biofuel. Recycling and making your own decorations is a great way to be more sustainable and getting the kids involved can be lots of fun. When it comes to cards, e-cards are far kinder on the environment by reducing your carbon footprint, saving trees and saving money! If you prefer to send real cards, consider buying them locally and choosing cards that support a good cause.

5. CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES

Could you live without the TV, tablet or games console at all over Christmas? Switching off these devices is kinder to the environment. Why not dig out an old board game or two, they are great ways of keeping friends and families entertained and it is just possible that this could be a brand-new experience for youngsters. If looking to venture outdoors, consider going for a walk around our beautiful city, or maybe a cycle ride?

Final Call For Speakers – Our Planet Our Future Event At Rothamsted Conference Centre On 21st April 2018

Our Planet Our Future logo 2017-11-04

Rothamsted Conference Centre, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ

Saturday 21st April 2018

FINAL CALL FOR SPEAKERS

Do you have an inspiring idea or a motivating experience to share about how to live more sustainably?  The 2018 Sustainable St Albans Week launch event, “Our Planet Our Future – Inspiring Action” is looking for people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved with this exciting event.

If your idea or experience has the potential to reduce our carbon footprint or to inspire others to live more sustainably in their community or even globally, we would love to hear from you.

Application forms and Q&As are available at https://sustainablestalbans.org/our-planet-event/

Please email your application to ourplanet@transitionstalbans.org

Call closes on Monday 18th December 2017

Send us your logo! Supporting 2018 Sustainable StAlbans Week

Community, business, school, faith groups Send us your logo! The organising team are preparing for Sustainable StAlbans Week 21-29 April 2018- only 20 weeks away! We are inviting groups to send us their logo to show their support for the week. If you belong to a local group e.g. parents’ group; residents association; campaign group, […]

via Supporting Sustainable StAlbans Week — Transition St Albans