Our Planet Our Future is a series of regular events and talks about sustainability, free for everyone to attend. Speakers are usually local, and present interesting and sometimes novel perspectives about moving towards a more sustainable life and lower carbon economy.
Our events take place in Harpenden on alternate months. Except for the walks, events are in the Function Room of The Plough and Harrow, 88 Southdown Rd, Harpenden on the second tuesday of alternate months.
Resources from our past events can be found below.
- Guided Walk – Exploring Batford Springs – 11 July 2023
- The Ants and the Grasshopper – film screening – 16th May 2023
- Curious About local Eco-businesses? – 21 Mar 2023
- Climate Action: Curiosity and Connections; partnership event hosted by the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) 28 Feb 2023
- How to reduce your energy use – from quick fixes to eco-renovation – 17 Jan 2023
- Drinks with a purpose … How do we meet the 1.5 degree commitment? – 14 Nov 2022. November’s meeting saw a good group of people come together for a drink and to discuss all things environmental, with a focus on the climate emergency
- Creating Climate Resilient Communities – 12 Sep 2022
- Guided Walk – Sustainable Agriculture and Research at Rothamsted – 11 July 2022.
- What a Waste! And How can we reduce it? – 14 Mar 2022
- Climate Conversation – 10 Jan 2022
- COP 26 Open Mic Night – 9 Nov 2021
- Tomorrow film screening – 14 Sept 2021
- Creative Repurposing – 12 July 2021
- Kiss the Ground film film screening – 25 May 2021
- Creating a green recovery – from ‘what is’ to ‘what if’? – 10 May 2021
- Doughnut and decision making: including the environment and nature in decision making – March 2021
- Rising to the challenge: A Life on Our Planet – 11 Jan 2021
- Sustainable Holidays – Who knew? – 9 Nov 2020
- Leave your car at home – 14 Sept 2020
- Sustainable Living: learnings from lockdown – 13 July 2020
- Rewilding – 9 March 2020
- Low carbon homes – 13 Jan 2020
- The Sequel film screening – 18 Nov 2019
- What can you fix? – 9 Sept 2019 – and see Fixing Stuff resources
- From riches to rags? – 8 July 2019 – and see #SecondHandSeptember pics
- Climate emergency open mic night at #SustFest19 – 13 May 2019
- Permaculture and Community Growing – 11 March 2019
- Our Chalk Rivers in Crisis – 11 Feb 2019
- A Low Carbon Lifestyle – 14 Jan 2019
- A Low Impact Christmas – 20 Nov 2018 – and see Low Impact Parties and Events resource page
- And finally, learn more about the very first Our Planet Our Future event, and how it got started in March 2018, or watch the speaker videos from the event.
What a Waste! And how can we Reduce It?
14 March 2022
Duncan Jones and David Birley from Hertfordshire Waste Partnership gave a very interesting talk about where our waste goes. We learnt about the different types of waste, the proportion that is sent to landfill and most shockingly, the enormous amount of food waste that is still being put in the regular collection bins and therefore not being composted.
10 January 2022
This was a Zoom event, following the general principles of the Sustainable St Albans Climate Conversations material. Around 20 attendees joined together to discuss how the St Albans District should and might address the climate crisis.
Climate Conversation Resources
If you would like to hold your own climate conversation with friends, family or within a group or staff team, please download the leaflets and activity sheets here. In addition you might find the following resources helpful:
Sign up to and share the Count Us In Campaign. This features 16 of the most powerful steps people can take to address climate change.
Take action by talking up at work or with friends – these resources will give you some ideas to get started:
COP 26 Open Mic Night
9 November 2021
We are in a climate emergency! What can WE do? How can we change things?
An evening of shared ideas about climate change and the current state of affairs in the second week of COP 26.
We had such a wide variety of people come along to the open mic night, and there really was something for everyone. From tips on how to change your pension so it’s better for the planet and how to make your home leak less energy, to passive house myth busting.
People came and shared their experiences of changing to plant based diets, daring to repair and joining in with Extinction Rebellion. We had an ‘insider’ view of COP26 from the Blue Zone from Mike Wilkins and even a song written for world leaders
Our open mic nights are an opportunity for you to get something off your chest or tell others about something you’ve discovered or just to come along and listen and meet others taking practical action towards a more sustainable lifestyle and low carbon economy.
Tomorrow – Film screening and discussion
14 September 2021
Filmed in 2015, this thought-provoking French documentary film directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent is still very relevant today.
It aims to inform and inspire, organised into five chapters: agriculture and food, energy, economy, democracy and education.
Read more and find out about future screenings
12 July 2021
An evening exploring ways in which worn out items can be creatively reused.
Susheel Rao discussed repurposing and repairing clothing and alternative uses for items in the home and garden. Attendees were invited to share projects that they had undertaken or that they wished to find out more about.
Find further information including resources discussed in the meeting here:
Kiss the Ground – Film discussion
25 May 2021
We discussed how attendees could promote the ideas in the film, how we as consumers could encourage regenerative agricultural practices, and how we could apply regenerative ideas to gardens and allotments. Themes included Regenerative Agriculture, Permaculture, No Dig and Forest Gardening.
Creating a Green Recovery – From ‘what is’ to ‘what if’?
10 May 2021
Many of us know it is necessary, but how do we actually go about ensuring a Green recovery? Our speakers discussed pressure from citizens and industry action.
- Pressure from citizens: Paul Thistlethwaite from Thinking Box talked to us about local democracy, including Citizens Assemblies.
- Industry activity: Adam Elman, Group Sustainability Director at Klöckner Pentaplast, talked to us about how companies are addressing climate change.
Doughnut and Decision Making – Including the environment and nature in local decision making
Our March event was a fascinating talk by Rob Shorter from Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL). He explained what doughnut economics is and how this being used in local decision making.
We then discussed in groups about how we might use the ideas locally.
The doughnut economics model looks at the planetary boundaries we need to work within as well as the social priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals. The area between the two creates the doughnut.
Read more and access further resources including Rob’s slides
Rising to the challenge: A life on our planet
11 January 2021
David Attenborough’s inspiring film asks us to consider How do we put nature at the heart of our decisions?
Our January meeting followed from the film; we discussion we explored ideas for reducing our impact on the planet in the areas of Energy, Food, Restoring Nature and Finance.
The event included breakout groups on the four main topics examined in the film. Participants generated lots of ideas as to what they could do at home, with their family, community or business to put nature at the heart of our decisions, and reduce our impact on the planet.
We collected the ideas from the event into a note to either download as a PDF below or view on a webpage; this includes:
- Resources from the “A life on our planet” project
- A summary of the resources by topic
- The pledges and ideas generated at the event, by topic
Sustainable Holidays – Who knew?
9 November 2020
We heard from James about the YHA’s custodial role in looking after the countryside and the steps it has taken to make the organisation and its hostels more sustainable. In the context of Sustainable Holiday post COVID-19, James discussed how all our small choices about holidays add up. He noted how many people have been discovering adventure and exploration locally this year and the impact this might have on holiday decisions in the future.
Vicky described her journey to founding Earth Changers, the social and environmental impacts of ‘all inclusive’ holiday offerings. She discussed how regenerative tourism can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries.
Further information and resources
Leave your car at home
14 September 2020
Our September event was an opportunity to look at different ways to reduce our dependence on the car, as well as considering how things we order get delivered to us. We heard from three very interesting and different speakers:
- Brian Deegan, speaking about how we can make our towns more attractive for walkers and cyclists;
- Andrew Buchanan, talking about community transport;
- Marcus Vere, speaking about how we can change how things are delivered to our door.
Brian Deegan – Urban Movements – Creating a culture of active travel
Andrew Buchanan – Harpenden Hopper – Community Bus
Marcus Vere – Box Bike Delivery Service
Sustainable Living – Learnings from lockdown
13 July 2020
On 13 July 2020, we held our first online event – on sustainable living and what we have learned from the coronavirus lockdown. Four breakout groups discussed the changes they’d made in the following four areas:
- At home
- Our working lives
- Our leisure activities
- Our community interactions
Read a summary of the event discussion
Visit our Lessons from Lockdown page for resources to help you maintain the sustainable living changes you made during lockdown, or download as a PDF:
9 March 2020
Forty 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 audience with an update on the Wild Stevenage project and how it could translate to their part of Hertfordshire.
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.
Read more and view event photos
Low carbon homes
13 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!
View more event photos
The Sequel – Film screening and discussion
18 November 2019
Forty 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.
What can you fix?
9 September 2019
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.
Lots of attendees asked us to share the resources discussed, so we’ve collated these below along with a summary of the event. We hope you find this useful and that you might be inspired to get involved with these two projects.
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.
The Repair Shed
The Restart Project and resources
From riches to rags?
8 July 2019
The Harpenden Arms was packed on Monday to hear Caroline Jones of #KnickersModelsOwn and Lara Davis from All Dressed Up. 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.
All Dressed Up
Take a look at these stylish local St Albans residents who took the #SecondHandSeptember pledge – No new clothes for 30 days.
Climate Emergency open mic night at #SustFest19
13 May 2019
We are in a climate emergency! Action needed! What can WE do? How can we change things?
As part of #SustFest19, we opened up the floor for 3-5 minute slots with Dave Hampton, Carbon Coach, kicking off the session.
Thank you to all the speakers. What an inspiring evening!
More photos from the night
Permaculture and Community Growing
11 March 2019
Read a short summary of the event
Our Chalk Rivers in Crisis
11 February 2019
Feargal Sharkey, the punk-star turned fisheries chairman and environmental activist, was guest speaker at the third Our Planet Our Future event at The Harpenden Arms on 11 February 2019.
The packed audience learned how important our chalk streams are. All of the world’s 200 chalk streams are in England and they were formed 79 million years ago.
What’s the crisis and what can we do?
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 encouraged the audience to:
- Reduce their water consumption
- Respond by 12 March 2019 to the current Defra consultation
- Respond to the forthcoming Affinity Water consultation on their Water Resources Draft Management Plan which will be issued in March 2019
- Join the Ver Valley Society, their monthly working parties or become Ver Valley Society River Bailiffs watching the Ver.
A Low Carbon Lifestyle
14 January 2019
Our guest speaker was ‘Low carbon Woman’, Carolina Karlstrom – 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, her inspiring motto being ‘No one can do everything but we can all do something’.
Event photos, pledges, and more about Carolina
Low Impact Christmas
20 November 2018
Over 40 people gathered at The Harpenden Arms for an evening of talks, discussion and inspiration. 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
See the Low Impact Parties & Events resource page for ideas for gifts, celebrations and how to enjoy your festival low-impact style.