An Interview with founder and CEO Carrie Cort – April 2022
When did you first gain an interest in the environment?
I have lived in villages, had dogs and loved horses and riding in the countryside since a very young age. I feel at peace, calm and complete when I spend time in nature. The opposite when I have not had my daily walk with nature.
What inspired you to start Sussex Green Living?
When my son was about 4 years old I become more and more aware of the damage humans are doing to our planet. I started to read and watch films about the climate crisis. At first I become quite depressed about it, then I watched two films and heard a talk which inspired me to take action. I watched Al Gore’s documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and the film The Age of Stupid, by Franny Armstrong, they were two light bulb moments.
Then I listened to Sussex-based Environmentalist, Nicola Peel, speak about the problems and solutions and I thought “No point worrying about it, just go to your grave knowing you have done everything in your power to make a difference. I think the greatest solution to apathy is action, so that is when Sussex Green Living was born.
What was your mission when you started Sussex Green Living?
It was always my dream/mission to form a network of families and local people going on a greening journey together. That has now come to fruition.
What has been your proudest moment over the last 10 years?
It is always really exciting and rewarding when our work and achievements are acknowledged at awards ceremonies. We have won many, the most memorable being ‘Britain’s Greenest Family’ at the PEA awards (People, Environmental and Achievement). My dear Mum (and big time supporter), then 9 year old Adam and I travelled to an amazing awards ceremony in London, see here https://www.sussexgreenliving.org.uk/p-e-a-awards-2017-winners-announced/. I was so proud of Adam’s achievements and involvement at the awards. At only 9 years old, the only child at the awards, he came up to receive the prize in front of a room full of adults and celebrities.
In addition, 3 awards have taken us to the Palace of Westminster including the WWF Climate Challenge awards, where I had been shortlisted as a community hero and Adam, aged 9 won the KS2 climate poster competition for his climate cartoon https://www.sussexgreenliving.org.uk/mother-and-son-acknowledged-at-climate-awards/.
My Green Club, from Adam’s school, won a Better Energy Award and had to present on stage to other schools, MPs and celebrities at an awards ceremony at London Zoo.
Sussex Green Living has always been about education and empowering people!
You mention that you have managed 170 schools visits, what are school children most concerned about/ most want to change?
Children are so passionate about looking after the planet, they really do not understand why adults do not get it and why we now find ourselves in such a mess. Every child has different ‘pet subjects’ and drivers, just like adults. Sometimes it has come from studying the Amazon, sometimes clearly, they come from environmentally aware and concerned families.
Our school sessions focus on sharing the inspiring solutions which surround us, not the doom and gloom. I always come away from working in schools with renewed hope and often knowledge, many children are well informed. An important part of our workshops and lessons is sharing inspiration and ideas, both ways!
What is your ambition for the next 10 years?
To secure funding for at least four paid members of staff who will help guide our charity with our wonderful volunteers, working with councils, businesses and the general public create a world in which we use resources sustainably. And to empower a network of regenerative communities restoring nature for people and planet. By 2032 I would like to like clean air and water to be the normal, a fair, happy world with greater equality, social and environmental justice.
If people could make one change to have a positive impact on the environment, what is that one change?
Before buying anything think – ‘DO I NEED IT?’ If you do, ask these questions:
- Where has it come from in the World?
- What is it made of?
- Where will it go when I do not need it?
If you do need it, could I buy it better, nearer, with no or less packaging, more ethically…..
If businesses could make one change to have a positive impact on the environment, what is that one change?
Invest in the clean renewable industry – energy, pensions and investments.
First children’s nursery session in 2012
Some of our eco warriors in 2012
Bottle top Bob the robot
One of our school green clubs winning the Better Energy Award and £1000 for their school
Testimonial from a mother
“When I met Carrie 10 years ago, we had no idea what SGL was going to grow in to! It has become a central, one-stop-shop for environmental information, motivation and inspiration with a focus on local initiatives. Congratulation to Carrie and all the team on your 10th anniversary.
In 10 years time, I hope to see a world where the environment is top of the priority list when decisions are being made in our homes, nationally and internationally”.
Testimonial from a great grandmother!
“I am amazed by what you have achieved, especially when I remember how you started in a small but ambitious way. I was talking about you recently when I attended a small Seed Sale and Repair Shop in Penrith. I enjoy reading SGL newsletter even though I live in Cumbria. Bless you”.
Testimonial from a 14 year old who has been part of our 10 year journey
“My name is Henry, I am 14 years old and have been involved in lots of activities with Sussex Green Living which has helped me build confidence and knowledge about the environment and nature.
The activity that stands out in my mind the most was taking part in an educational day teaching children from London and more locally about the environment, nature and mindfulness. It was a huge learning experience for me and quite a surprise to learn how little the children knew about being outdoors and with nature. All the attendees said they had an amazing day. I have been empowered to do more of this, teaching and talking to people about environment issues and I now regularly help out at the Sussex Green Living Hub – Repair Cafe – helping with repairs to items that would normally end up in landfill. I also help out with handing out tea and biscuits to all the volunteers!”
We asked Henry – What do you hope for by 2032?
“In 10 years time I hope to see more electric cars, more new trees being planted and more recycling and reuse centres in our towns.”
Testimonial from Sussex Wildlife Trust for two young people who have been part of Sussex Green Living since its launch
“I am emailing to say how impressed I was with Adam and Henry who attended the last Wildlife Rangers session. Not only were they hard working, and keen to make real improvements for wildlife on our local green space, but they also had an awareness of the challenges globally. They discussed the pressures our society exerts on habitats through use of resources, land take and expansion of the population but with a genuine concern and consideration for how local economies and populations could be affected by policy changes – particularly around agriculture which, I understand, Henry has been working in.
Listening in to the conversation I was impressed that each brought different knowledge and clear opinions but remained open and considerate of each other and the arguments. It makes me feel confident that the next generation are well equipped to deal with some of the environmental issues they (sadly) inherit from us”.
Tom Simpson, Sussex Wildlife Trust, People & Wildlife Officer
Two of our eco warriors 10 years later
Right one of our eco warriors helping at our Bright New Future Roadshow 5th April 2022