SustFest: Future Thinking

Do you have your own thoughts and ideas about the Sustainabilty Festival?  Would you like to share them in a small group discussion?

Come along to SustFest: Future Thinking event on Tuesday 25th June 6-8pm. Book your place here

We are inviting people who were involved in putting on events, and people who came to events – to come along to a short interactive session to contribute your thoughts and ideas about the future of the festival at SustFest: Future Thinking – Where Do We Go From Here?

We will look at what worked best in the festival, what could be better? And also – where do we go from here?

Environmental issues are high on the local and national agenda:

So what should we be doing next in our district – across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages? Another big festival? Just the Market Takeover? Other ideas?

Book your place for: SustFest: Where Do We Go From Here: Future Thinking event on 25th June 6-8pm.

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

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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 plan.

(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.

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(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”

Treecrop

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

Begining:

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?

Chrysalis:

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?

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Crisis:

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..

Catharsis:

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.

Symbiosis:

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.