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.

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 card

(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.

green heart.png

(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


 

 

 

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!

Market

Follow the Blue Dot trail

From May 11th ’til June 1st join in with Plastic Free St Albans Blue Dot Art Trail #SustFest19 event. Spot the dots and discover a variety of creative perspectives on the topic of single-use plastic through the lens of local artists.

• Over 30 incredible pieces of art created by local artists
• Covering a multitude of media from oil painting, photography to mixed media
• Being exhibited in many venues in and around St Albans incl Courtyard Cafe, Inn On the Park, St Albans Museum, Raft, The Refill Pantry, Headcase barbers, Fade to Black and many more…
• Can be experienced as a full trail or in separate visits, let’s see how many dots you can spot to protect our precious planet, the earth, our blue dot.
• Find the digital map @ https://plasticfreestalbans.org.uk/sustfest19-art-trail/

Don’t forget to share your thoughts and ideas about the trail and what we can do to reduce single-use plastic on our plastic free St Albans FB page, Instagram or twitter! Include #bluedotarttrail