Our Planet Our Future continues… with evening events and videos.

In April 2018, a group of seriously sustainable local speakers presented to the launch event of Sustainable St Albans Week in Harpenden.   Since then we have organised a series bi monthly evening events in Harpenden on topics relating to sustainability.      Videos from the April 2018 event are available for you watch; the programme for the videos is here and the videos are here. Below you will find details of our forthcoming events and also information about the past events.

Our next events:

Mon 14 Sep 2020 – Leave your car at home!

Boots, bikes and buses, an evening with talks and discussion on alternative ways to get around that are kinder to the planet.

Further details to follow including zoom details.

Free event, please book via Meetup here 

Mon 9 Nov 2020 – Sustainable holidays

Contributors include James Blake, CEO of the Youth Hostel Association.

Free event, please book via Meetup here

  • Time: 7.30-9.30pm
  • Venue: Bennet’s, 21 Leyton Rd, Harpenden AL5 2HU (or Zoom if required)
  • About the venue
    •  Bennet’s Club, 21 Leyton Rd, Harpenden AL5 2HU, a 5 minute walk from Harpenden station
    •  wheelchair accessible with some parking and also at the nearby carpark in Amenbury Lane.
    • There is a bar to purchase drinks.
    • https://www.bennets.club
  • …. and we are planning our first Repair Fair
  • Date: October 2020
  • Time: 10am to 3pm
  • Venue: Harpenden Quaker Meeting House, 12 Southdown Road, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 1PD

About Our Planet Our Future events

It was originally a festival of ideas about sustainability, featuring local speakers presenting interesting and sometimes novel perspectives about moving towards a more sustainable life and lower carbon economy.

The original event was held at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden on 21st April 2018.  We are delighted to make videos of those talks available for you to watch at your convenience.   Which one will you watch first?  Videos of the talks are available here and also our You Tube channel here.

We also had an art installation on the day, with three trees sponsored by Ayletts, upon which delegates wrote their sustainability pledges on parcel labels. These trees are now being planted across the District. The first of the trees, a Silver Birch, was planted in Leyton Green by Harpenden Town Mayor, Cllr David Heritage on Tuesday 6th November 2018.  The second of the trees, a crab apple, was planted in the William Bell Playground by Sandridge Parish Councillor, Cllr John Hale on Wednesday 19th December 2018.  The third tree was planted in Clarence Park in February 2019, by the Mayor of St Albans City and District, Cllr Rosemary Farmer.

Since the event in April 2018, Our Planet Our Future have continued with a series of evening meetings in Harpenden, initially at The Harpenden Arms and more recently at Bennets Club.  Further information about these events is below.

Our past events:

Our Planet Our Future continues, the eleventh event: Sustainable Living – learnings from lockdown, 13th July 2020

On 13th July 2020 the Our Planet Our Future team at Sustainable St Albans held its first online event – about sustainable living and what we have learnt from the coronavirus lockdown.  Four breakout groups discussed the changes that the attendees have made in the following four areas 1) at home, 2) in our working lives, 3) in our leisure activities and 4) in our community interactions.   The discussion from the events is summarised below.  

Four breakout groups shared and discussed the sustainable living changes they made during lockdown – at home, in their working lives, in their leisure activities and in their community interactions; and how far their new sustainable behaviours will become ‘keepers’ for the future.

Changes made –

  • at home included more gardening and DIY; where from and which foods were bought; research on future home energy supply options etc
  • by workers included travelling less; becoming virtual meeting experts; eating healthier lunches; better home/work-life balance etc
  • to leisure activities included more walking and cycling; heightened awareness of nature; engagement in online activities eg quizzes, socials, club meetings, classes, church services, watching plays and virtual tours of cultural organisations etc
  • to community interactions included supporting local mutual aid initiatives such as volunteering with local care homes; collecting prescriptions and for food banks; sharing home-grown food and plants; assisting the national Covid response by contacting and supporting vulnerable neighbours, making masks etc

You can read a detailed review of the meeting here which also includes an Annex of Resources and Further Information to help you maintain the sustainable living changes you made during lockdown or you can download a pdf here.

Our Planet Our Future continues, the tenth event: Rewilding, Monday 9th March 2020

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Forty local people heard from local experts about how to make their town and district more wild. Tim Hill and Heidi Mansell from Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) inspired the Our Planet Our Future continues… audience with an update on the WIld Stevenage project and how it could translate to their part of Hertfordshire. By letting nature take its course, HMWT has successfully turned some areas into scientifically important havens for insects and plant-life, including bush crickets, spiders and bee orchids.
In Harpenden, Heidi has worked with the Town Council to introduce children to the natural world, including a novel volunteering project with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’s scheme. Nadia Bishara introduced WIlderhood Watch, a grass-roots project that has sprung up across St Albans for neighbours to work together to create Hedgehog Streets, Pollinator Highways and Buzz Stops.
The audience debated the relative importance of tree planting compared to the amount of carbon captured by the soil, as well as identifying ways to start community initiatives for people renting properties or living in flats.
Tim Hill, conservation manager at Herts & Middlesex Wildlife, said, “Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is working for wilder places, working collaboratively with organisations, landowners, local authorities and communities in our counties. By working together and recognising the value of all habitats we aim to reduce biodiversity loss and address impacts of the climate crisis through nature-based solutions.” Nadia Bishara added, “Wilderhood Watch is about connecting neighbours at a street level to work together to protect and enhance the natural environment on their doorsteps.”

Our Planet Our Future continues, the ninth event: Low Carbon Homes, 13th January 2020 

Fifty people gathered at Bennet’s on a cold wet Monday evening to hear our two speakers; Heather McNeill, Passivhaus Designer from AdPractice Ltd and Simon Robinson, Director, Solinvictus.  Heather spoke about “Retrofitting your home to low carbon standards” and Simon on “Alternatives to gas boilers“.  Both talks stimulated much discussion!  A very clear message from both speakers was that three things we need to do are insulate, insulate, insulate!

The presentations from the evening can be viewed here

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Our Planet Our Future continues, the eight evening event: Film screening of The Sequel followed by discussion 18th November 2019.

40 people joined us at Bennet’s Club in Harpenden for the first Our Planet Our Future film screening.

This new film recognises the fundamental unsustainability of today’s society and dares to ask the big question: What will follow? What would it look like to create economies that can thrive without endlessly growing? This film shows a future built on community, carnival, and conviviality.. “The Sequel”. It looks at the influential work of David Fleming, who dared to re-imagine a thriving civilization after the collapse of our current mainstream economies and inspired the Transition Towns movement.

Watch the trailer here! For more information about the film see here

Our Planet Our Future continues, the seventh event: What can you fix? 9 September 2019.

On the 9th September 2019 we held an event ‘What can can you fix’ at The Harpenden Arms in Harpenden.  We were delighted to have speakers from the The Repair Shed, and the Restart project.    Many people at the event asked us to share information about the event and links to the resources discussed, so here is summary of the event and a link to some resources.  We hope that you find this useful and that you might be inspired to get involved with these two projects.

This event, at The Harpenden Arms, featured inspiring talks about the The Repair Shed, and the Restart Project, with practical ideas about how the St Albans district can reduce waste and consumption at the same time.  Our guest speakers were Doug Root from The Repair Shed and and Philip Le Riche representing the Restart project.

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The Repair Shed in Dacorum is part of the Men’s Shed movement, the aim is to help, men aged over 50 to stay healthier and happier for longer by making, mending and learning (though it does have younger members and women members).  Shedders work on their own project and also community project and commissions .. so do contact them if you have a wooden something that needs fixing!  

Also if you would like to join the Repair Shed in Redbourn, volunteer with them or have some wood to donation, you can find all the details here.  You can also follow The Repair Shed on Facebook here.  The Shed also has a Sewing Cafe which runs sessions on Thursdays from 10.00 am – 12.30 at the Repair Shed in St Luke’s School, Redbourn.  The cost per person per session is £5.00; the money raised will be equally supporting both the school and the Repair Shed – more information and booking details are here.   

The Restart Project aims for a more sustainable relationship with our electrical and electronic devices by encouraging and enabling community-based repair. Our speaker, Philip has taken part as a fixer in many “Restart Parties” in London, and organised one as part of St Luke’s Upcycle and Repair Fair during SustFest19. He described his own involvement and also how Restart is growing a global network of affiliated groups supported by an online community, a repair wiki and a “Fixometer”, which tracks CO2emissions and waste averted. Restart is also increasingly active in lobbying for “right to repair” and design for repairability.

There was also considerable interest in the idea of holding Restart Parties in Harpenden or St Albans and of setting up a Repair Shed (their being large waiting lists to join the local Repair Sheds).  If your organisation would like to host a Restart Party or have a venue that could be a home to new repair shed do get in touch with Philip, Doug or us.

Restart resources:





We are very grateful to The Harpenden Arms for their support for these events.

Our Planet Our Future continues, the sixth event: Monday 8th July 2019, From Riches to Rags?

The Harpenden Arms was packed on Monday 8th July to hear Caroline Jones, of #KnickersModelsOwn and Lara Davis from All Dressed Up.

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The evening included inspiring discussion with those present making a variety pledges to reduce the impact of that they wear including:

  • ‘buying once’ – aiming to buy clothes that will really last
  • ensuring no clothes are sent to landfill – taking unwanted clothes charity shops, and bagging up unusable clothes and shoes for ‘rags’
  • sharing a ‘fashion bag’ with a group of friends
  • joining the #SecondHandSeptember campaign
  • encouraging the use of charity shops

Prom Dresses needed – can you help?

Lara Davis from All Dressed Up is now collecting prom dresses for next year.   Lara’s project is to re-use prom dresses and provide them free for Year 11 students in Herts and Beds who would not otherwise be able to afford them.

Do you have one to donate? You can either drop them off at The Mall, Luton or post dresses – all sizes, ready to wear condition – to: All Dressed Up, c/o The Mall Luton, Mall Management – Gallery Level, 37 The Mall, Luton LU1 2LJ


Have you taken the pledge? #SecondHandSeptember – No new clothes for 30 days. To inspire everyone, during September we will be posting pictures of our stylish local volunteers and supporters in their secondhand outfits. Join in by sending us your photos to ourplanet@sustainableStAlbans.org!


Our Planet Our Future continues, the fifth evening event: “Climate Emergency Open Mic Night”, as part of the Sustainability Festival, Monday 13th May 2019

We are in a climate emergency!  Action needed! What can WE do? How can we change things? Join us and share your ideas and actions. Short 3-5 minute slots. Dave Hampton, Carbon Coach, kicked off the session. Thank you to Dave Hampton and all the speakers. What an inspiring evening! Here are some photos..

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Our Planet Our Future continues, the fourth evening event: “Permaculture and Community Growing”, 11th March 2019

Permaculture Guide, Nigel Crawley, was the first guest speaker at our fourth evening event.  Nigel described permaculture as a framework for creating low-maintenance, nature-friendly lifestyles. It’s about observing how nature works and applying these principles to our own projects. Anything from design of a food garden up to a whole way of life design.

Nigel is a Certified Permaculture Designer and he runs Introduction to Permaculture workshops across the Chilterns and Vale of Aylesbury – see Nigel Crawley.  See here for information about a workshop in June.  Nigel is also involved in local community growing projects including the award winning Duckmore Lane Community Garden in Tring, which uses Permaculture Principles and includes a Forest Garden.  The garden has regularly gardening parties, see here for further information.

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Incredible Edible supports local food growing projects across the country.  Local co-ordinator Sahira described her role in supporting local projects and she encouraged anyone who would like to start an incredible edible garden and was aware of a piece of land that could be used for this to contact her.   Incredible Edible  has funding to support new projects!!

Next we heard from FoodSmiles site manager, Jayne.  FoodSmiles is a Community Benefit Society, based in St Albans District, which aims to encourage people to grow and eat more sustainable local food through building a community of food-growers. FoodSmiles has sites in Harpenden and St Albans, and also manages two Incredible Edible projects in St Albans.  FoodSmiles is open to new members, and has open days coming up on 20th and 23rd March and 11th May – do visit the site for a tour on one of those days, 1.30-4pm.

There are two Incredible Edible sites in St Albans which are part of FoodSmiles, anyone can join growing sessions at these sites and also pick the produce – see Incredible Edible St Albans for dates.

Louise and Helen from Plot 31 then spoke about their Community Flower Garden and also their newest initiative, a Community Growing Project in Harpenden, which is open to all on Tuesdays – do get in touch with Louise find out more and get involved – Plot 31

Our Planet Our Future continues, the third evening event: Our Chalk Rivers in Crisis” 11th February 2019

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Feargal Sharkey, the punk-star turned fisheries chairman and environmental activist, was guest speaker at the third Our Planet Our Future continues event at The Harpenden Arms on 11th February 2019.

Feargal showed the audience images of our local chalk streams explaining that since the 1980s, many streams have dried up in part, and where they do run, they are polluted by sewerage works and surface water run-off. They are running out of water because of intensive water abstraction at their sources. Hertfordshire residents use on average more than 160L of water per day, but our rivers and streams can only support usage of around 110L. In Germany and Scandinavia, better use of grey water systems means householders only need to use around 80-90L per day.

The packed audience at The Harpenden Arms learnt how are chalk streams are – all of world’s 200 chalk streams are in England and they were all formed 79 million years ago!

Feargal lobbies the Environment Agency and Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, he Environment Agency and local water companies in his role as chair of Amwell Magna Fishery to improve the ecological status of the UK’s rivers – in 2018 the proportion of rivers in England meeting ‘Good’ ecological status had dropped to just 14% (from 24% in 2016 and 36% in 2012).  He encouraged the audience:

  • use less water and
  • lobby their water companies and Defra to protect chalk streams.

In particular we were asked to write to Defra by 12th March 2019 responding to their consultation Improving our management of water in the environment; the link to respond is here.

You can see Feargal’s presentation here and also read more about Feargal’s mission here in a Guardian article from December 2018.

Our second speaker, John Pritchard, chair of the Ver Valley Society, then described the work that the Ver Valley Society does to protect the lower stretch of the River Ver (the upper part having dried up).   John’s presentation can be viewed here.  John encourage the audience to:

  • reduce their water consumption
  • respond by 12th March 2019 to the current Defra consultation Improving our management of water in the environment; the link to respond is here.
  • respond to the forthcoming Affinity Water consultation on their Water Resources Draft Management Plan which will be issued in March 2019
  • … and to join the Ver Valley Society, or join their monthly working parties or become Ver Valley Society River Bailiffs watching the Ver.

Our Planet Our Future continues, the second evening event “Low Carbon Lifestyle” 14th January 2019

Our guest speaker was “Low carbon Woman”, Carolina Karlstrom. She is a mother, partner, blogger, entrepreneur, hobby-poet, sister and daughter – wanting to make positive change in the world.

 Carolina discussed the opportunities and challenges to living a low carbon lifestyle. Carolina’s inspiring motto is “No one can do everything and we can all do something”. Photos of the event, including the pledges made by participants (see below).

Carolina has extensive experience from the clean energy/sustainability sector.  She is an inspirational blogger, writing guest blogs for https://www.edie.net/ and The Planet Mark. Aiming to show how individual passion can create change, she leads the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) network in London, this is a grassroots network of change makers raising awareness, connecting people and inspiring to action towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Carolina loves walking in nature – in fact her MSc thesis was all about walking!

Carolina’s blog is lowcarbonwoman.com

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Our Planet Our Future continues, the first evening event: “Low Impact Christmas” 20th November 2018.

Over 40 people gathered at The Harpenden Arms for an evening of talks, discussion and inspiration.  Photos and a summary of the ideas discussed at the event are below; ideas can also be downloaded here.

Our speakers were:

  • Tania from The Refill Pantry – getting rid of packaging
  • Amanda from Plastic Free St Albans – making Christmas plastic free
  • Heather from The Green Kitchen – ideas for a greener Christmas
  • Susheel from Sustainable St Albans – giving low impact gifts
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See our Low Impact Festivities page here for ideas for gifts, celebrations and how to enjoy your festival LOW-IMPACT style!

Our Planet Our Future Speakers and their videos

Through generous funding from the Harpenden Trust, we can provide video of the talks for those who were unable to attend the live event here and also our You Tube channel here.

The Art Installation & Tree Plantings

We also had an art installation on the day, with three trees sponsored by Ayletts, upon which delegates wrote their sustainability pledges on parcel labels. These trees are being planted across the District.

The first of the trees, a Silver Birch, was planted in Leyton Green by Harpenden Town Mayor, Cllr David Heritage on Tuesday 6th November 2018. 

The second of the trees, a crab apple, was planted in the William Bell Playground by Sandridge Parish Councillor, Cllr John Hale on Wednesday 19th December 2019.

The third tree, a copper beech, was planted in Clarence Park, by St Albans Mayor, Cllr Rosemary Farmer, on Wednesday 6th February 2019.

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Thank you to the sponsors of the Our Planet Our Future event in April 2018 and to all our supporters and volunteers