Introduction to an Extraordinary Meeting

Lower on this page you will find the video recording of this meeting which you can watch or use the video timings in this report if you would like to ‘jump to’ specific sections.

An extraordinary gathering of environmental community driven people took place on 19th January 2022, sharing knowledge, projects and inspiration.  On the 3rd Wednesday of every month this Sussex Green Ideas meeting takes place using Zoom at 7pm, organised by Sussex Green Living. This month we focused on the work of environmental advocates and groups in Horsham District’s villages, and how Sussex Green Living has been working with them since our launch in 2012.

The meeting was attended by 48 people, representing 17 villages in Horsham District, 8 parish councillors, 4 district councillors including the new Cabinet Member for Waste and Recycling, Councillor Toni Bradnum, and Cabinet Member for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Councillor James Wright, plus Horsham District Council’s Environment Officer, Helen Peacock, many Sussex Green Living volunteers and volunteers from village environmental groups.

Introduction to Sussex Green Living’s Network

Video starts at 0.46

Sussex Green Living’s CEO, Carrie Cort, introduced the charity and explained her vision had always been to form a network of people working together, to promote lifestyle changes that reduce carbon footprints and impacts on the planet, the meeting made this a reality. Sussex Green Living has about 90 volunteers, the environmental leads of different activities are shown in this family tree.

The charity’s most established environmental service is single use plastic recycling with TerraCycle, which is now available in 17 village/town locations across Horsham District, represented in the meeting were Amberley, Barns Green, Billingshurst, Cowfold, Henfield, Horsham, Itchingfield, Nuthurst, Pulborough, Rudgwick, Slinfold, Southwater, Steyning, Storrington, Warnham and Washington and unable to attend but shown within the environmental activity charts are Coolham, Kingsfold and Thakeham. Many schools and churches collect and provide their recycling to their nearest drop off location.

The Sussex Green Living network took big steps forward in October 2017, launching Horsham Repair Café, the first in West Sussex, with lots of wonderful volunteers and the help of the Horsham Quakers. Now in its 3rd venue in Horsham due to outgrowing the Quaker Meeting House and the dual location with the Unitarian Church Hall. Currently it is part of the Sussex Green Hub on the last Saturday each month in the United Reformed Church in Horsham (behind Wilko off West Street). Since 2017 they have helped about 12 other Repair Cafés set up, 3 in Horsham District.

Carrie explained that the environmental network grew again when in 2019 Nicola Peel and Carrie organised a World SOS Climate Emergency Day meeting in Horsham, attended by 126 people from environmental groups from Sussex and Surrey, out of this the South East Climate Alliance was born. This coalition of environmental, faith and community groups now has over 100 member groups from Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, East and West Sussex.

The Sussex Green Living network expanded again when throughout 2020 they ran weekly Horsham Climate Café online events, strengthening our network, volunteer base and supporters.

In May 2020 Sussex Green Living became a charity and is now writing a 3-year growth plan to apply for bigger grants to support our work.

In 2021 Sussex Green Living transformed its environmental education taking it to the people, using our Inspiration Eco Station (1974 retrofitted milk float) and the Bright New Future Roadshow. Thanks to a £5k grant from Horsham District Community Climate Fund and £5k from the Sussex Community Foundation. Many of the villages present at the meeting benefited from an Inspiration Eco Station visit and, in some instances, the full roadshow during 2021. Learn about the float, roadshow and its 2021 activity here. 

Environmental Projects in Horsham District Villages and Towns

Video starts at 7.34

Due to our unique network and contacts in the villages, we have become increasingly aware of an expanding portfolio of projects in the villages. These graphs show what’s happening across Horsham District, some projects are long established, many started over the last 2 years. The orange column shows our recycling/TerraCycle work with most of the villages. The vast range of projects shown are led by a known group in some instances, sometimes individuals maybe with the parish council, community partnership and/or the Lions. If we have missed out any village environmental projects from these graphs, please email Carrie so we can update the data.

These charts aims to reflect the village environment activity, we have not captured the many groups working in Horsham town. The Horsham population figures are from 2020, all the others population figures are from 2011 Census.

At then end of this report you can download the presentations and this Excel spreadsheet to see the notes on other projects which are running or planned in the villages. Here are a few examples:

  • Schools are running repair classes, learning bee keeping and working on food waste projects.
  • Small villages such as Amberley are using their bus stop to collect non council recycling and deliver it to the big supermarket in Pulborough.
  • Henfield are encouraging residents to use the Olio food exchange app.
  • Horsham Community Fridge redistribute supermarket food rather than letting it go to waste, including distributing from our monthly Sussex Green Hub.

The second slide above repeats some of the projects but is focusing on our work in the villages/towns and how we are seeing an interesting new community hub forming in Billingshurst, Slinfold and Pulborough, a merger between repair cafes and Men’s Sheds. To the right you can see the schools where we have worked with the village recycling volunteer, to help promote TerraCycle in the relevant village. Also, schools where we have worked independently addressing other topics, plus the villages we visited with the float. Lastly some of the villages have contacted us about taking the float and in some instances the full roadshow this year, on 4th and 5th June we have been invited to two events each day, Billingshurst, Slinfold and the Floral Fringe at Leonardslee both days!

We all know about strength in numbers; hence we are really keen to explore ways we can work more formally together and with the councils, amplifying our voice and magnifying our impact in Horsham District.

These three presentations took place, followed by a lively Q&A session, with much debate as to how to tackle the shocking statistic that 42% of Horsham Districts waste is food waste.

  • Christian Minguillion, Sussex Green Living – Small Green Steps Carbon Survey video starts at 12.10. 254 people participated in our survey in 2021, 53 completed it twice and 9 three times throughout the year.  We are currently compiling personal responses with ideas for action to reduce their carbon footprint and adapting the survey to launch our carbon clinic.
  • Geoff Barnard, Greening Steyning – Carbon Work video starts at 16.58 
  • Jerry Hooper, Greening Cowfold – Food Waste Project video starts at 23.25 

Environmental education support for the villages ….Platinum Jubilee Regrow and Repair Roadshow

Video starts at 38.52

Sussex Green Living plans to adapt the float over the winter and add to the roadshow offer to provide fresh inspiration for 2022 and ideas for a district wide communications campaign We already have 4 requests in Horsham District, including Ashington, Horsham, Steyning, Slinfold and other events out of district.

The float’s new displays and activities will focus on water and resource conservation, recycling and encouraging growing popular, easy to grow vegetables, salad and herb in small spaces, this activity will be offered with free take aways. Alongside this, space and interest permitting, a gazebo with a repair focus, offering advice, signposting to the nearest repair café and encouraging the formation of more repair cafes/environmental hubs.

Aiming to help build community resilience, strengthen mental health and wellbeing, encourage mutual aid and highlight the relationship between consumption and the climate emergency, with a vision for communities which are not just surviving but thriving.

Front of Eco station

Idea….digital district wide communications campaigns

Video starts at 42.03

Sussex Green Living is keen to explore ways we might be able to find a digital communications volunteer in each participating village, to help run a district wide communications campaign in liaison with the environmental groups and councils. These co-ordinated campaigns and messages would build groundswell. Since the meeting we have already had one volunteer in Storrington.

In our presentation we suggested rolling communications topics, these are initial ideas as an example, we have changed the timing of the growing topic from that presented in the video…

  • Jan – March      Grow your own in peat free compost
  • April – June      Water conservation in the home and garden
  • July – Sept        Waste reduction – e-waste recycle, repair and resell electronics
  • Oct – Dec         Waste reduction – refuse, remake and recycle

Mark Francis introduced the next Sussex Green Ideas – video starts at 44.04

The next meeting which is taking place on the 3rd Wednesday in February 16th February 7pm, the focus will be on Community Energy Horsham. He gave a short explanation about this new community group and the mission to install more clean renewable energy in Horsham District.

Q&A and Nicola closed the meeting with wise words – video start at 56.17

She started by congratulating Carrie, all the Sussex Green Living volunteers and all the individuals and environmental groups present. The meeting shows how if we work together, we are stronger, we can inspire each other, learn from each other and gain ideas for the next little steps we and others around us can take, emphasising the joy of learning every day.

She stressed we need to move past this idea of sustainable and think how we move from surviving to thriving communities. In 2022 we really want to bring the Inspiration Eco Station and maybe the bigger Bright New Future Roadshow to the villages, to show them what a resilient community would look like, what they could do to get a really functioning vision of the future. So often people don’t have a vision of the future, it’s stuck with an apocalyptic view of the climate and ecological breakdown, and it’s vital we can see what we want for our villages.

Many thanks for you attention and come on Horsham District, lets work together and build momentum for the sake of our planet and all who we share it with!

The meeting  closed – but what now?

The attendees of the meeting including individuals volunteering in villages, environmental group leaders, parish and district councillors have been invited to complete a survey indicating how they would like to move forward. If you did not attend the meeting but in reading this article you would like to get involved with future events like this, volunteering in some way or are interested in the float and roadshow coming to your school or event please complete this survey. It includes requests for subject specific mentors, village / town digital communication volunteers and idea gathering.

We are now asking you and the Parish Councils if and how you would like to synergise our efforts to:

  1. Set goals for Sussex Green Living targeted impact areas linked to our 3-year plan
  2. Facilitate communication among the 19 villages/groups – each nominate a digital volunteer
  3. Propose co-ordinated campaigns and message to build groundswell
  4. Review Council plans and identify gaps or areas to support – issue a Sussex Green Living position statement
  5. Launch and support a communication calendar of themes for households across the 19 villages/groups
  6. Agree district communication topics to synergised efforts

Attend the next Sussex Green Ideas meetings using Zoom:

Wed 16th Feb 7 – 8pm – Community Energy Horsham

Wed 16th March 7 – 8pm – Recycling Update – Council, Sussex Green Living / TerraCycle and Supermarkets

Book using Eventbrite here.

Can We Help Inspire Your Village with Fun, Entertaining Environmental Education?

We want to show people there are lots of environmental solutions to the climate and ecological crisis, many helping people, pocket and planet. Take a look at our Inspiration Eco Station (retrofitted 1974 milk float) and the Bright New Future Roadshow, which is on offer to schools, communities and businesses. Watch a 3-minute video showing our work in 2021 and testimonials from WSCC Cabinet Member for the Environment Councillor Deborah Urquhart and the High Sheriff of West Sussex Neil Hart here:

Recycling challenges

As mentioned on 19th we are aware that most of our village recycling partners and our main drop off location in Horsham are receiving 40 – 50% more single use plastics which should go to the supermarkets. We are having a meeting at the Sussex Green Hub on Saturday to plan a strategy to address this and will communicate with the recycling volunteers directly.

Plastic bottle lid recycling – milk bottle lids are donated to the Springboard Project in Horsham. If the village volunteers want to accept other plastic lids you will need to hand separate them and find a sponsor to cover the cost, currently any we receive in Horsham we have to pay to courier them to a recycling company. If we were to receive these from the villages our costs are likely to go up by about £70 a month. If anyone can introduce a sponsor to cover all the locations then we are happy to accept non milk bottle plastic lids. The cost per year is likely to be in the region £1000.

With the urgent need for action, we are seeing an increasing demand for our services and environmental solutions, we want to find ways to work with the village environmentalists and councils. Maybe acting as a knowledge sharing hub, signposting to mentors in the villages who are happy to share their specialism with other villages. More on this later.

Sussex Green Living is applying for grants to help enable these extra services.

Proof of Concept:  

Councillor Joanne Knowles in Cowfold and co-founder of Greening Cowfold 2021

“Engaging older residents in climate emergency related initiatives has, at times, been challenging. Appealing to the “make do and mend’ post war ethos has proven really successful in other villages, allowing intergenerational exchanges around growing our own food and repairing clothes and equipment. A Roadshow to help generate interest would be very helpful in kickstarting this initiative in Cowfold”.

Geoff Barnard founder of Greening Steyning and lead for South East Climate Alliance

“The most successful public engagement initiative in our town over the last 10 years without doubt was the introduction of the Sussex Green Living/TerraCycle recycling and the repair café, both of which Sussex Green Living helped us set up”.

These are the presentations show during this meeting on 19th January, click to open and view. 

Download this ppt

Download the Excel s/s with village environmental project data