What makes our city sustainable?

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.

Gin & Jazz 2018 Stephanie Belton (3)

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.

TimeTurn 2018 Credit Stephanie Belton (42)

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.

small bid logo picture - 19.12.2017In 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 the St 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!


Harpenden explores nature for SustFest19

As part of Harpenden Town Council’s aim to encourage people to engage and learn more about their local common and green spaces, our Commons and Greens Support Officer runs events throughout the year, exploring a wide variety of wildlife and habitats.

Harpenden Town Council takes over our Guest Blog this week looking at events being run as part of the Sustainabilty Festival 11th May to 1st June. Details of all events below can be found at sustainablestalbans.org

Spending just a few minutes each day enjoying nature is known to improve mental health and wellbeing, as well as help to create long lasting memories with children and adults alike. More information about events throughout the year can be found at http://www.harpenden.gov.uk/events-calendar as well as booking links for those below.

Bat Walks


Harpenden Common is home to two species of bat, the Common Pipistrelle and the Soprano Pipistrelle. These are species which hunt for their prey along treelines and hedgerows, making the common perfect hunting ground. What do they eat? How do we know we have these species on the Common? What can we do to continue to help these nocturnal predators of the sky? Come along to Bat Walks on Harpenden Common on the 14th and 16th May to find out.

River Dipping

29-5 58 - RIver DippingHarpenden is home to lots of special habitats and one of these is the chalk river, the river Lea, which runs through it. Chalk streams are a rare habitat, 98% of which are found in England. They boast a diversity which rivals the rainforest, from the tiniest aquatic invertebrates to a number of fish species. Can you identify a mayfly larvae or a stonefly larvae? What does a caddis fly make its home out of? Bring along some wellies and get stuck in, learn how to id these aliens of the waterways and how we look after this special habitat. Morning and afternoon session on the 29th May. 10am – 12:30pm Morning session. 2pm – 3:30pm Afternoon Session

18-5 57 Litter picking

Litter Picking on the Common

Come along and help us keep Harpenden clean by picking up a litter picker and a bag at Harpenden Cricket Club. Go the extra mile and separate the recyclable litter from the non-recyclable. Drop in session from 1pm to 3pm – Pop along at any point during that time to collect your gear.

Marvellous Mammals

Bank vole in the hand - small mammal trappingThis event is running in conjunction with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Small mammals like field voles, shrews and field mice are an incredibly important part of any food chain. Able to produce between 5-10 litters of 3-12 young every year, they are plentiful in number and are eaten by birds, larger mammals, and even insects take advantage! A healthy number of small mammals can indicate a healthy habitat. Come along and see the small mammal live traps (called longworth traps) in action, and hopefully see a mouse or shrew! Learn what they look like, what they eat, and what tracks and signs these and some of our larger mammals leave behind. Location TBC – Friday 31st May 9:30am-11am.