Did you see this wonderful news in the Herts Ad: the Ver Players donated £1500 to Sustainable St Albans from their annual charity concert! It is a huge donation that will make a significant impact on the work that we can do locally – we are so grateful to all the musicians – and their supporters – for thinking of us.
They held a really exciting concert for their annual fund-raiser – and its fantastic to see that local musicians can garner such support from around the district – great music and a brilliant atmosphere.
Sustainable St Albans is a charity, and we are run by volunteers – both the six people on the trustee group, and the committed volunteers who work all the year round to provide the Open Food Gardens, the Thermal Imaging Camera sessions, Our Planet, Our Future events, talks and films in the Harpenden area, and the exciting new Playing Out project – where streets can close the road for a day to allow residents to meet and chat, and children to play outside. And, of course the volunteers who make up the SustFest working group, and all the volunteers who help us with running events and stalls.
Fabulous news – Ver Valley chose to gift the proceeds from their charity night to Sustainable St Albans – first time ever that our environmental charity has been selected in this way by a local group – and we hope to do them, and you the local community, proud!
‘Grow Community – Sopwell’ is a group of volunteers in Sopwell ward, St Albans who want to encourage and enable local residents to grow their own food at home and in community spaces, to reduce food waste and to share surplus food in the community and with local charity groups. See the delicious Pumpkin soup recipe at the end!
They also aim to promote local wildlife conservation and restoration projects, connect ongoing initiatives and bring the community together through these activities.
In this week’s blog we talk to Kate Swindells, a Sopwell resident who has started this new local growing project – Grow Community – Sopwell – which is supported by Sustainable St Albans and the growing project FoodSmiles.
Why have you started Grow Community Sopwell?
Having set up an eco Facebook group for mums in St Albans (SAMs eco team) I can see so many people wanting to do better with plastic-free and low carbon emissions living.
“Growing your own fruit and veg is a great step to being ‘greener’ and is pretty easy once you’ve got started.”
Knowing our local community pretty well and being into gardening myself, it made sense to start off a community growing group in the area where I live. Luckily for us a similar group Foodsmiles have already set up the Incredible Edible community gardens in the city centre, and we are gaining advice and support from them about how to set it up!
Are there any local groups who want to get involved?
We’ve got the support of our local councillors, churches, and some of the local youth groups already. The local primary schools are also very happy to be supported in what they are already doing and we have strong links with the local allotment society. In the wider St Albans community, we have support from Sustainable St Albans and Foodsmiles which we’re really pleased about.
Do you grow food in your garden at home?
I love to grow food at home, it’s my escape! This year we’ve grown potatoes, loads of leafy vegetables, beans, peas, tomatoes, leeks and pumpkins, and we’ve just bought a miniature apple tree. A lot of the veg is grown in our old recycling boxes! They’re a good size, deep, and have drainage holes already.
Find out more about Grow Community – Sopwell
There will be refreshments, kid’s activities and a pumpkin soup demo as part of Hubbub’s #PumpkinRescue food waste campaign.
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.
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 https://climateemergency.uk/
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!
* 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.
* 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 fromEcover UK) and refill your fabric conditioner at The Refill Pantry, Eat Whole Foods or Ecover again.
OUT AND ABOUT
* 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.
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/tellyour 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
In 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 theSt 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!