Sussex Green Hub welcomes wider community

Each month a special and very welcoming Horsham community event pops up, open to all: The Sussex Green Hub, and last month our warm-hearted community got even bigger and better as almost two hundred visitors attended throughout the day.

This month our busy volunteers refilled 140 bottles with personal hygiene and cleaning products, repaired 43 items, answered all manner of recycling queries and gave advice on energy, green books to read, eco-garden and generally how help the planet and save money at the same time.

We are also now running creative drop in sessions of afternoon workshops from 1pm till 3pm. These will usually be free although voluntary donations are always welcomed.

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Plastic Free Coronation Celebrations

During the weekend of Saturday 6th to Monday 8th May, there will be celebrations and parties all the country. Local town, Eastbourne, has put together a guide to help with the preparations and create eco-friendly events. We’re sure that King Charles would approve.

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How to Store Food to Prevent Waste

We are all guilty of wasting food but did you know that 25% of food wasted in UK households is due to cooking, preparing or serving too much? This costs us £3.5 billion a year. So being savvy with our food can prevent waste and save us money, not to mention the benefit to the environment. About 6%-8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stop wasting food.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

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Improving Soil Health with biochar

It was the first experience I’ve had of using a retort kiln. Normally I use a ring type.

The ice crystals were glistening on the metal door as I pulled hard. It creaked with resistance as the morning sun shone upon what was left of the wood.  It had been reduced by half through a process called pyrolysis, (heating wood in the absence of oxygen).  The fire turns volatile oils into gases which heat the wood.

I always love that first encounter when I open a kiln, picking up a handful of charcoal and dropping it gently; listening to the tinkle as pure carbon cascades down while sunlight and left over heat create peacock blues or rainbow patterns over the blackness.

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Pollinator Highway

As a child, I never understood the saying, “It’s an ill wind indeed that blows no good,” but I recently realised that’s what’s happening now.

I went to buy a thermal T-shirt, my current one sadly threadbare, but there were none to be had.  The assistant told me they had ‘overperformed’, because fuel prices are high and people are dressing up warmly at home rather than putting the heating on. Result!  I know people who, when working on the computer at home, take a break for a few minutes and go for a run, simply to warm up.  Loved ones are switching off the TV earlier than their usual habit and instead snuggling up in bed with a good book. Result!  People are jumping on their bikes or walking rather than taking the car for short journeys, and we’re driving more carefully because the roads are full of potholes. Result!

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Horsham Cape of Good Hopes

At Sussex Green Living we often talk about our outreach with families, in the villages, in schools and with the Youth Eco Forum.  What people may not realise is that we also run community sessions with the elderly. Morag and I went along to the Kings Court Care Home in January this year, taking the Horsham Cape of Good Hopes along with us.

What is the Cape of Good Hopes?

The Cape of Good Hopes is a collaborative community project. It consists of the construction of mini artworks created by individuals and groups to bring the community together with the common cause of celebrating nature in all its wonderous forms and acknowledge that we can’t survive without a healthy planet to support us.

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The Impact of Flying

This year we’re asking, “Can airlines please tell us the truth – the whole truth – about the impacts of aviation?  Is it not one of the biggest polluters of our planet?”  Like cigarette packaging and advertising, and in a similar way to food allergy advice, shouldn’t plane tickets have health warnings for us and the planet?

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SECA Annual Event – Meeting of Hope

It was the first time I had been to a SECA meeting, and it was inspiring to see over a hundred people working together for change.

We arrived in Brighton in an electric car, (my first time in such a conveyance), for the annual South East Climate Alliance or SECA meeting, the aim being to bring councils and communities together to address the issues related to climate breakdown and share successes and suggestions.

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Community climate hub

Philanthropists and business heroes needed

Community climate hubIt is easy to focus on finances and ignore the climate just now, when the cost-of-living crisis is hitting us so hard. However, the two are fundamentally interlinked. Reassessing how we live and what we consume ultimately saves resources for our planet and puts money into our pockets too.

For 2023 we want to build on the success of our monthly pop-up Sussex Green Hub by establishing a Community Climate Hub ‘on the high street’ in Horsham. The purpose of the hub is to offer initiatives and education that allow everyone to make changes to their life that have a positive impact on the planet AND save them money!

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Veganuary 10th Anniversary

2023 is the tenth anniversary of Veganuary, a month during which people don’t fast entirely, but simply commit to just eating plants.

The vegan organisation GenV was started by Matthew Glover who also came up with the increasingly popular idea of Veganuary.  GenV doesn’t take donations from the public but has a number of celebrity supporters, notably Joanna Lumley and Paul McCartney whose wife Linda famously pioneered the vegetarian food market in the UK.  GenV currently has a poster campaign in Westminster to encourage MPs to consider more compassion in farming as currently almost three-quarters of the animals we grow here for eating are actually confined in factory farms.  An anonymous donor gave them a million pounds for this London poster campaign.

In contrast to GenV hoping to persuade the government to legislate, the Vegan Land Movement are making changes out in the fields. A Horsham friend explained to me that this community interest company has several goals, one of which is to reverse the incredible biodiversity loss in the UK.   It raises money through its public Crowdfunding website and has just been able to buy its fourth plot of land in an already polluted area.  The Government Food Report says, “Domestic production faces a number of risks, including soil degradation, drought and flooding.”  Last year the Vegan Land Movement helped mitigate this by planting hundreds of native trees including willow, maple, wild cherry, oak and birch to help restore the soils and therefore the wildlife.

Some larger land owners are paid to re-wild parts of their land, but sadly there are no checks in place to see if this actually occurs.  Would it be better for us to support our small organic farmers instead and crunch on local carrots, caulis and cabbages?

Naomi Hallum, the chief executive of GenV, explains that millions of acres could be freed up for nature corridors as although over 70% of UK land area is used for agriculture, the majority of it is grassland for grazing rather than crops.  Because plants grow quickly, we would only need about 16% of this land to grow our food if we became plant-based eaters.  The UK has lost more of its wildlife than most countries, (we’re now in the worst 10%) and the main reason for this is land use change from wild land to fields.

So enjoy your veg to do your bit for the planet this month! To find out more about Veganuary or trying some vegan recipes, go to https://veganuary.com/

By Morag Warrack

Morag

Sussex Green Living Achievements 2022

Ashington Youth Club

Well what a year 2022 was for Sussex Green Living. As we reflect on the last year and plan for the future and 2023, we thought it was worth taking a moment to share some of our achievements…

Demand for Sussex Green Living environmental education services in schools and public events has never been higher, so much so that requests for our help vastly outstripped the grants we had been awarded to be able to deliver the work in schools.

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Eastbourne E-hive

Eastbourne’s first Climate Emergency Centre

Eastbourne E-hiveAfter six busy and successful weeks Eastbourne’s first Climate Emergency Hub has reached the end of its temporary lease in The Beacon Centre at the end of December. During this time the hub team organised over 50 workshops and took turns to keep the hub open as a drop-in centre for the public, seven days a week. They are now searching for new premises.

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Students create inspiring art in Repair Cafe Challenge

SimonWhen thinking about living an environmentally sustainable life, the first thing most people think about is the 3Rs: ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. As part of Sussex Green Living’s education outreach programme, we initiated a School Challenge looking at how you can reduce waste by repairing.

 

Our school challenge for Horsham District Schools was supported by a Horsham District Community Lottery Grant, a donation from a Horsham councillor and kindly judged by Horsham artist, Morag Warrack.

 

The challenge invited students to learn about repair cafés, what they do and how they help reduce waste on our planet. There are items that could be repaired but often people don’t have the skillset to make repairs. Repair Cafés are run by volunteers who have both a passion and the expertise to repair electrical, mechanical and textile items. The premise is that you can take along your items and for a small donation, they will try to fix them while you stay, watch and hopefully learn a new skill at the same time.

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New year resolutions

New Year New Green Resolutions

New year resolutions

© Marekuliasz from Getty Images via Canva.com

New year is often a time for reflection and making resolutions. I always start the year with good intentions but find it’s hard to keep them up when things get busy. This year I’m looking to put in place some changes that are easy wins. If you too are in that frame of mind right now, here are some ideas I found for making 2023 a little greener for you and your family.

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Kelp

Restoring kelp, eliminating single use plastic

KelpDid anyone see the coverage of the Earthshot awards presented by the Prince of Wales in Boston earlier this month? They were awards given to organisations, companies or cities recognised as making a significant contribution to dealing with climate change, reviving our oceans, and other similar objectives. You can watch the whole ceremony on BBC iPlayer Earthshot Prize.

The winner in the Building a Waste-Free World category was a London based company founded in 2014 called Notpla (i.e. not plastic!) They have come up with a unique product made from seaweed – or kelp (to use the more scientific term employed by Sussex Wildlife Trust and local universities involved in the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project).

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Repair Cafe

Protecting the Battery Life

Repair Cafe “The battery won’t charge…” We hear these words very often at the Horsham Repair Cafe. It’s true that batteries don’t last forever, but we can make a drastic difference to its life expectancy. The original hybrid car, the Toyota Prius, uses a large traction battery.  Many are still running 20 years later.  So, how can the Prius keep the battery working efficiently for 20 years when some phone batteries only last three? Why do some household battery devices (vacuum cleaners for example) sometimes become useless after two years?

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Birds of a Feather

George Frederic Watts, The Wounded Heron, 1837, oil on canvas (Watts Gallery Trust)

On a guided tour of the George Watts Gallery, near Guildford recently, I was surprised to learn about the Victorian artist’s ‘protest pictures’.

Born when our own Percy Shelley was at the height of his powers writing his controversial poems of protest, I felt the two would have got on well, with their artistic commentaries on the ruthlessness of the governments of their day.

One painting which felt particularly poignant was called, ‘A Dedication (to all those who love the beautiful and mourn over the senseless and cruel destruction of bird life and beauty)’.  It depicts an angel weeping over an altar littered with kingfishers and other small birds.

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Christmas wrapping

Christmas Money Saving Ideas

Christmas wrappingLast Christmas we bought 226,800 miles of wrapping paper, 5.3 million artificial trees, 6.8 million real trees and £42 million of unwanted toys. As we continue to tighten our belts, we look at ways to reduce the waste from Christmas so we can have a more sustainable Christmas, that costs less for the planet and for our pockets. Read more

Charity Christmas

Charity Gift Ideas

Charity ChristmasChristmas Charity Gift Ideas

You all know the person that has everything and are probably struggling to know want to buy them for Christmas. Well, how about buying them a ‘giving back gift’? We’ve all heard about gifting a goat but many charities have now expanded this idea and you can buy everything from toys for vulnerable children to medical care and adopting animals to even twinning your rubbish bin.

Think about a cause or interest that the person has and try and link the gift.

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Never too Small to Make a Difference

SchoolEducation has always formed a big part of the Sussex Green Living mission. In fact, it is where Carrie Cort started out, as a network of families learning about nature, the environment and ways that everyone can live a more sustainable life.

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What does COP 27 mean for us locally?

As COP 27 begins, what’s happening locally to help save our beautiful little planet from doom?

Well, Horsham District Council held a Climate Action Day on 20th October to help prepare the parish councillors for what lies ahead for all of us.

Two thirds of the 32 parish councils in HD were represented, with 11 parishes not attending. So what progress has been made?

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Eastbourne E-hive

New Climate Emergency Centre opens in Eastbourne

Eastbourne E-hiveThe E-Hive, Eastbourne’s latest pop-up Climate Emergency Centre, is now open in The Beacon shopping centre. It is a crucial part of the campaign to deliver a carbon neutral Eastbourne by 2030, as mandated by the Climate Emergency declaration passed unanimously by Eastbourne councillors in July 2019.

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Green Hub Map

Communities take Action

Green Hub Map

Green Hub Map

You might be feeling the world is not making enough progress with serious action to address the climate and ecological crises, especially with attention being diverted to the energy and cost of living crisis. Crisis after crisis, hey! However, we are seeing a rising of communities coming together to show how being leaner and greener helps save money and the planet.

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Sorting recycling at The Chapel

Community Collaboration at its Best

During the first lockdown in 2020 many people felt isolated. Sussex Green Living (SGL) thought it was important to connect people and to continue its work improving the environment. SGL’s Carrie Cort organised weekly online Horsham Climate Café events. Some of these attracted over 150 people, both local and from further afield. One of the aims of the café was to introduce people ‘virtually’ from the same villages and this is when the seed of Billingshurst environmental group BilliGreen was planted.

 

The group was started by Mela Davidson and Melanie Holliker who both wanted to create a network that boosted the local community and had a positive impact on the local environment.

 

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Car share

Car Sharing in Horsham

Car shareI recently completed a Carbon Literacy course with the Scottish Community Climate Action Network (SCCAN) who produce some excellent teaching resources. They focus on actions we can all take and as a result and based on a Scottish idea, I made an enquiry about the possibility of a formal car-sharing scheme at Horsham Rugby Club.

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