Causing A Splash to Save the River Ver

Now that IS excessive water use! This incredible 10,000 litre bathtub will be in the town centre on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th May 2021 during #SustFest21. It is all part of Affinity Water’s new movement SOS: Save Our Streams, calling on people in St Alban’s to waste less water to save our streams.


Affinity Water writes about their latest campaign to encourage local residents to #savewater and #SaveOurStreams #RiverVer


In October last year, Affinity Water ran pilot scheme ‘Save 10 a Day’ in St Albans and District to address the issue, which saw residents saving more than 700,000 litres of water a day. New movement SOS: Save Our Streams builds on this success and is asking us all once again to do all we can to save our beautiful local chalk streams.

Large bathtub with Save Our Streams written on the side.
The bathtub is 125 times larger than your average tub.

Coined ‘Britain’s Great Barrier Reef’, chalk streams like the River Ver boast clear water from underground springs, and are more endangered than both the Bengal tiger and black rhino. In St Alban’s we’re using 6% more water than the national average, putting these iconic natural gems at risk.

While you’re marvelling at a bathtub 125 times bigger than your average tub, make sure to speak to Affinity Water’s team. They’ll be able to support you to make simple changes at home to waste less water through the new website SaveOurStreams.co.uk.  

After answering a few questions about how you use water, SaveOurStreams.co.uk provides you with your exact household water usage stats, a free water-saving kit and tailored advice. You can also view footage of Sandi Toksvig performing stand-up comedy live from the River Chess in an exclusive performance for the campaign.

If you take a selfie with the bath, don’t forget to tag @AffinityWater in in your pictures!

COVID won’t stop SustFest21

Negotiating a COVID ‘diversion’ on the path to sustainability: the road to SustFest21

As you can imagine, when COVID first hit the headlines in March 2020, we had the terrible sinking feeling that the Sustainability Festival would have to be cancelled. When the situation escalated to widespread social distancing restrictions, the festival organising group soon made the decision to postpone until 2021. It was a terrible time for us as a group, mainly because the 2020 was the biggest SustFest to date.


This week’s guest blog is from Jill Watson – Jill runs the Phase Out Plastic stall at St Albans market, looks after a young family and is the chair of #SustFest21. Jill we be at the SustFest21 Creative Ideas for organisers event on 25th Feb and 2nd March – all welcome see Eventbrite for more info and booking


Global awareness of climate and ecological emergency

..we were in a time of change and wanted to step out onto a new more sustainable road

On a worldwide scale, awareness around climate change and ecological emergency was becoming general knowledge instead of the ‘theories’ and extreme views that had kept it low on governments’ agendas for many years. We wanted this tide of positive impact to continue; we were in a time of change and wanted to step out onto a new more sustainable road, but we had hit a ‘COVID’ diversion sign.

We all know what the past year has done to us, individually, as a family, as a business, as a community, as a nation and globally. We will feel the effects for years to come. As this disruption has forced us to change in directions we couldn’t anticipate, do we really need a SustFest this year and what can we achieve?

We will feel the effects for years to come…

The pandemic actually changed some things for the good of the environment making significant differences in a short space of time: less commuting (less international business travel), switching to using local businesses/producers, increased community support for the vulnerable and even decreased worldwide oil production. Within homes it changed our awareness of personal actions like how our consumer habits drive industry and made us face up to what we really need to buy.

Now is the perfect time to make changes we’ve been meaning to do for so long…

The health of our loves ones is at stake, and will always be our priority, but the Climate and Ecological Emergency is also a danger to our health and welfare.  You can help by bringing along your ideas and deciding to join in with an event or activity for SustFest21.

Do you feel that some of your sustainable habits have been forgotten during the pandemic? …or did you have time to start some new sustainable projects?

The social/wellbeing aspect of our lives has suffered with strict social restrictions As human nature is sociable, with care for one another, this has been hard, and potentially damaging to us all.

By building an inclusive Sustainabilty Festival for 2021 we can re-emerge from our houses and reconnect with our friends and local community through nature and sustainability. We can use this platform to join with like-minded groups and individuals -whether online, or in socially distanced ways. We can find new initiatives to support and most importantly know that we can support each other.

..We can re-emerge from our houses and reconnect with our friends and local community through nature and sustainability…

Right from the beginning the festival has been community-based; it highlighted sustainability in existing groups and promoted better eco-friendly habits – swap shops, repair shops, gardening clubs, youth groups reducing plastic waste, cookery groups reducing food waste, cycle to work schemes – to name a few.

Even in lockdown these activities can still continue. Maybe not with large gatherings, or face to face events that we all love, but we can still act individually and share experiences through the vast amount of media we have available to us.

Love it or hate it – we’re all online experts now!

Love it or hate it, in the past year, we have all become experts in video calls, live streams, online chats and social media. Alongside traditional long phone calls, writing a letter, sending a gift or flowers, the ability to keep in touch is still important, and vital to remember this year. Your toddler group, your church group, your running club?

Can you adapt one of your ongoing activities to be part of SustFest?

Festival events can be private or public… maybe you can adapt a few habits or have a discussion, make your own energy bars, share news of locally produced food? Try out some ‘eco swaps’ and feedback at your next zoom coffee morning? All of our actions make a difference.

On a global level COVID has highlighted inequality and unfairness. In turn this revealed unsustainable industry practices previously quietly accepted in our consumer driven lifestyle. Often the global south has suffered the fallout from practices driven by richer economies. Climate change impacts many nations that do not themselves drive pollution and carbon levels.

Many have friends, family and colleagues impacted in different ways around the world. Hopefully this year’s COP26 Global Climate Change conference will pull nations together to legislate for better practices so that countries we impact directly do not have to suffer because of our nation’s’ industrial practices. SustFest21 will include events that oversee what’s happening in other parts of the world and will highlight the work of COP26.

  • Illustration of person washing in shower

Roller coaster

On a personal level, this pandemic has been a rollercoaster: fighting the instinct to panic buy when people stripped the shelves of stock, wondering how to ensure routine and stability for my family, what can I do to replace school lessons, and of course lockdown!? I became angry that our ‘eco-better practices’ were thrown out the window with no perceivable end to when things would ‘get better’.  The increased plastic, no use of public transport, limitations on exercise, all in all it was very hard to bear.

As people emerged from the shock of lockdown, I realised that some of the answers were in reintroducing more sustainable habits.

Buying from local shops or direct from suppliers you can limit waste packaging and reduce transportation/carbon footprint. By cooking from scratch, we can reduce food waste. We found ways of repurposing household items when the shops were closed. We’ve done more in the garden and allotment – great for wellbeing and for stocking up the fridge!

We need to use SustFest21 to share our experiences, our learning and our new ideas from this time….

The festival takes place from Sunday 23 May to Sunday 6th June. We are asking groups to register an event on the website www.sustfest.org from now until 4th April.

Or come along to the Creative Ideas event – repeated on Thurs 24 Feb and Tuesday 2nd March – to get inspiration for your #SustFest21 activity

I know there is a huge amount of enthusiasm out there to share and I encourage everyone to think about getting involved however big or small – we are all in this together. Let’s ride on this wave and support each other in our sustainable changes.

We do need a SustFest this year, and I know we can all make it a great success and a fantastic resource for our communities going forward. I’m looking forward to seeing you at a SustFest21 activity or event in whatever format we are allowed! #StaySafe

#Covid-safe #SustFest21 is back

Organisers for the St Albans Sustainability Festival are going ahead with the environmental festival in 2021 and are asking groups across St Albans, Harpenden, and local villages, to organise Covid-safe events about living sustainably.

Registration

Registration opens online on 1st February. Community groups, businesses, schools and faith groups can register and find inspiration for appropriate activities including virtual events, on the website  www.sustfest.org  

Crowdfunder

There is also a #SustFest21 Crowdfunder started to raise £2,000 to help the festival especially around promoting and communicating the festival. It managed to raise nearly £400 in the first day. The organising group would love you to share the crowdfunder if you can.

Jill Watson, who runs the Phase Out Plastic stall at St Albans market, is the new chair of the festival; a partnership between charity Sustainable St Albans, and St.Albans Friends of the Earth.

We know the lockdown is very challenging for everyone. We asked ourselves if it was the right time to have another festival – especially after the disappointment of cancelling in 2020. However, we believe that local residents are passionate about building environmental sustainability, and threats to our environment just can’t wait. Also, this year the UK hosts the Global Climate Change Conference COP26 and local communities need to get their voices heard.”

Jill Watson, Chair of #SustFest21

The festival runs from Sunday 23rd May to Sunday 6th June 2021. New for this year will be a flexible, online events listings allowing groups to alter arrangements as lockdown rules change.

Sustainable Living themes

#SustFest21 uses the ‘One Planet Living’ framework created by Bioregional with themes including zero waste, community, sustainable food and natural habitats.

“With the pandemic it’s more important than ever to inspire and encourage people to live more sustainably. During the lockdown I have spent a lot of time with my daughter exploring nature where we live, and it brings so many benefits. The virus has curtailed people’s lives, and we want to help get people back talking about the planet.”

Lee Wood, local graphic designer and member of the #SustFest21 organising group.
Photo by Lee Wood

Sponsorship

The Sustainability is now looking for local businesses to sponsor the festival and information is on the website. Many thanks to Aylett Nurseries for bringing forward their sponsorship from last year.

Jill added: “And thanks to the National Lottery letting the festival use last year’s grant for 2021 for our core funding, and our Community Sponsor Octopus Electric Vehicles . Together these have enabled us to get started.”

More

  1. Get ideas on how to organise a #Covid-safe activity for the 2021 Sustainability festival. Register from 1st Feb #SustFest21 #StaySafe

2. Bioregional One Planet Living Framework information