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Manchester based Carbon Co-op is an energy services and advocacy co-operative that helps people and communities to make the radical reductions in home carbon emissions necessary to avoid runaway climate change.

They have held a series of webinars on retrofitting homes to reduce their carbon footprint. They have now released records of the webinars here. I would recommend the one on "People Powered Retrofit – a neighbourhood model for new retrofit markets"

On 30 June we are coming together for a virtual lobby, inviting you, and thousands of others to ask MPs to put people, climate and nature at the heart of our nation’s recovery. 

The UK is at a turning point. As we build back from the current health crisis, we have the opportunity to rebuild a resilient economy that benefits everyone in society and tackle climate change and nature’s decline, creating jobs and protecting the most vulnerable in the UK and around the world. Or we can let the moment for change pass us by, go back to old ways and wait for new crises to hit. 

Using our voices to call for action is more important than ever. Have a virtual cup of tea with your MP on Tuesday 30 June and tell them that #TheTimeIsNow to put a healthy, greener, fairer future at the heart of plans to rebuild from the Coronavirus crisis. 

This is organized by The Climate coalition. See https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/virtual-lobby for more information.

Transition Malvern Hills (TMHills) continues to promote and support sustainable projects and initiatives in Malvern and the surrounding area.  We are organising regular meet ups, (under the title of TMHills Eco-Chat, Thoughts and Action), for individuals and groups to discuss how Malvern is making the positive changes needed to reduce our environmental impact.

Due to the Virus Crisis these meeting are now being held online using Zoom. For information on how to use Zoom see here.

Below is the chats we have currently planned. To keep upto date sign up for our mailing list here. 

The next echo chat has not yet been planned

Or

Recycling is not a magic bullet

For a long time, the 4Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle have been used to get us to “go green”.

But there are at least 7Rs:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Repurpose, Rot and Recycle.


Refuse:

Just say No. The best way to reduce the environmental impact of an object is not to create it in the first place. If we do not buy it then they will not produce it.

Reduce:

Buy only want you need. If you are not going to use it do not get it.

Reuse:

Were possible always get stuff that can be reused and reuse it.

Repair:

It an item is repaired then we do not need to get a new one and with do not have to dispose of it. A win win. The repair café movement is important.

Repurpose:

If we no longer need an item for its original purpose that can it be used in some other way and given a new lease of life. The in phrase for this is upcycle but that does not start with an R.

Rot:

When an item gets to the end of its life. If it is properly biodegradable, then we can give it to nature to recycle it. The emphasis is on properly biodegradable. See my earlier article “Is plastic ever really biodegradable?”.

There are two good ways to rot things, first as compost and the other is via biodigesters. Biodigesters have the advantage they produce carbon enteral energy. So if you have the choice, it’s probably better to send to a biodigester.

A not so good way to use Rot as a way of disposal is just to give it to nature to let it handle your waste.  If this is just throwing an apple core away during a walk this is probably OK.  But normally this is littering. But if the item littered is properly biodegradable then is will be less of problem as nature will eventually take care of it.

If you have the choice should you rot or recycle? This choice only applies, I think, to paper and cardboard. If it is good quality, then I think it will best recycled. But, if poor quality or contaminated with food then rot. 

Recycle:

The last on the list


Recycling is not a magic bullet

Many people think if they recycle then they have done their bit for saving the planet. But doing some recycling will not on its own stop the climate crisis. The climate crisis is caused by us putting green houses gases into the atmosphere. In general recycling does reduce the carbon footprint but not by much. There are many things you can do that will reduce your carbon footprint more than by recycling. But you should do them all. See my Climate Breakdown what I can do slides.

Recyclable is a word I hate. Making packaging recyclable will not solve the blue planet problem. The blue planet problem is a problem of littering. If all the plastic now in the oceans had been put in land fill or incinerated, it would not be in the oceans.

To put it simply:

This post is by Duncan Bell of the Transition Worcester energy group.

Draught Busting

Draughts waste energy and money by allowing warm air to escape homes and cold air to entre.

It is relatively quick and easy to stop problem draughts, compared to the large amount of energy that they waste.

Draughts are almost universally found around doors, windows, and chimneys, but not limited to these places.

Some draughts can be simply felt using a damp back of the hand, or dusting likely draughty areas with fine powder such as custard powder or corn flour, and watching to see if the powder moves from where you put it.

Some ventilation is essential for a healthy home, but most homes have many more times the level of draughtyness than is necessary.

Other draughts can only be found using more specialised equipment, contact us or Transition Worcester for help once lockdown ends.

Once you’ve found a draught, it is time to seal it.

Self adhesive draught strips can be cut with scissors and stuck directly to (ideally clean) painted or plastic surfaces. A good way to clean surfaces before sticking is to wipe them with rag dampened with meths.

Many low cost draught proofing products are available from local DIY stores or delivery from national DIY and building supply chains likes Wickes and Screwfix. Just search using the term "draught".

As well a buying products you can make some draught excluder gadgets:

  • Make your own internal under door draught excluder for free using roll of old blanket, clothes, etc.
  • Make your own Chimney Draught Excluder for free using a bundle of plastic bags, old blanket, etc.

SupaSoft

SupaSoft is an easy to handle and environmental alternative to standard nasty itchey fibreglass wool insulation.

SupaSoft is excellent for insulating lofts.

Transition Worcester energy group have used SupaSoft, and we found it effective insulation and a joy to work with, no fibreglass itchyness.

Fire safe, we took a sample of SupaSoft to the garden, poured petrol over it and lit it. The petrol burned as expected, the SupaSoft melted but didn't burn once the petrol was used up.

Conclusion, SupaSoft is less of a fire risk than the usual cardboard boxes and household junk already found in most lofts.

SupaSoft is manufactured in the UK from recycled plastic waste.

See NaturalInsulations.co.uk for more information.

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

Remember this: We be many and they be few.  They need us more than we need them.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

Arundhati Roy, War Talk

This is based on an article by Joe St Clair in the Resurgence & Ecologist magazine.

Down on the farm, a new grassroots initiative is being sown: a simple idea for turning plots of land into sustainable and self-regulating ecosystems that can provide nutritious, healthy, organic food for local communities and also bring those communities together to combat loneliness and engender a sense of comradeship and belonging. And it’s working.

The Food Forest Project is a small, newly formed organisation that has been established to help communities to plant food forests. But it’s not just about growing food for the local community. It’s also about providing food and habitats for wildlife – so it’s a win–win situation for all.

The idea was conceived by Bristol-based Tristan Faith, a specialist in architectural conservation, who shared his vision with me by sketching the concept on paper. “It’s the idea of working with Nature to replenish itself naturally rather than over-working and depleting the soil,” he explained. “It’s all about creating a layered, self-regulating ecosystem. It starts with planting trees that grow to create a canopy layer that shades a mid-layer of fruit trees that in turn shade a shrub layer and a root crop layer, right down into the subsoil. Each layer creates a habitat for different species that enable natural predators to control the insects. It takes around five years for the complete system to stabilise and produce fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, and so on. Once it gets to that level of maturity no further intervention is necessary, because it then becomes self-sustaining.”

Faith’s vision remained a conceptual idea until he found a supportive farmer who kindly donated a suitable plot of land that met the criteria for the project. The land, near Shepton Mallet in Somerset, had been heavily used as pasture for many years. Now the food forest being developed there is creating an organic, biodiverse area of natural habitat that will provide perfect homes for local wildlife. The food forest also helps mitigate the effects of climate change, air pollution and the toxification of soil and water by creating natural spaces that capture carbon, regenerate soil and reduce run-off as well as stabilising erosion through the planting of woodland. No pesticides or fertilisers are necessary once the natural seasonal cycles take over, and the enriched soil will enable organic fruits and vegetables to thrive. These products will then be available for the local community to buy by donation, helping to fund further expansion.

Creating a food forest requires a lot of careful planning if it is to thrive in a self-sustaining manner. Current food-production techniques tend to create huge wastage as well as depleting soil nutrients, so the project focuses on minimising wastage by means of a ‘closed loop’ system. It has been calculated that a large quantity of high-quality and totally organic food can be produced in a small area with minimum wastage. Any excess products can be recycled naturally to further enrich the soil.

The project has another important goal. A large proportion of modern society has lost its connection to the natural environment. In recognition of this, the project has now joined forces with SAFE Collective, an organisation that works with vulnerable and abused young people. Volunteers bring teenagers to the Shepton Mallet site to plant trees and crops and to learn all about sustainable agriculture and food production in a safe, inspiring and natural environment. Introducing vulnerable young people to these and similar activities helps build their self-confidence and shows how they have value in the community.

For more information see www.thefoodforestproject.org

Earth Day 22nd April

is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

Earth Day 2020 will be far more than a day. It must be a historic moment when citizens of the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.

For more information see earthday.org

Our Malvern Hills Car Clubs celebrated its 10th Anniversary recently and issued the following press release.

Press Release, for immediate publication

Malvern Hills Car Clubs is a community-based car sharing scheme, and last week, on 1st April, it held its tenth AGM.  The original plan had been to hold this at the Cube, and to combine it with a birthday party, with members bringing food to share.  Given current circumstances, the meeting was held virtually using Zoom (an online conference facility).

The birthday party atmosphere was maintained by some members arriving with gin and tonic and crisps, or cups of tea and biscuits, and the celebration started with everybody present sharing something that they appreciated about the car club.  One member who has recently returned to the Malvern area after several years of living abroad was grateful that she has not had to buy a car since she came back.  A member who lives in the northeast and works in Ledbury is very happy that he did not need to buy a second car for the time that he spends here.  One couple were pleased that they have not needed to own a car for ten years - since the car club started.  Another member expressed gratitude for the fact that there are fewer cars on the roads, and fewer cars parked on the streets. Several people also mentioned the commitment and devotion of the volunteers who run the club, and the sense of community and connection that being a member of the club creates.

With this being an AGM, the accounts were presented, revealing a small surplus and a healthy bank balance.  However, the car club is not immune to the Coronavirus.  On the contrary, the impact has been immediate.  Members are responding to the lockdown advice and only using the cars for the permitted outings with the result that usage for March was a mere 10% of normal. 

In the short term, the car club’s finances will enable the club to ride out the immediate drop in usage.  The conversation about contingency plans to help the situation was followed by thoughts about the opportunities for the future.  Two different opportunities were discussed, the first related to the Covid-19 effect, and the second to possible expansion plans.

First, with almost everyone moving around less at the moment, some people may decide that they can continue to drive less, and therefore that they do not need to own their own car.  The car club is a very good solution for people who only use a car two or three times a week in normal times.  Similarly, households with two cars may decide that they can manage with owning only one, and use a car club car as a substitute for the second.  There are already many car club members in this situation.

The second opportunity is the potential for partnerships with local villages.  The parish councils of six villages in the area - three in Worcestershire, and three in Herefordshire - have recently declared a climate emergency, and are looking at actions that they can take locally to address this.  They are exploring arrangements with Malvern Hills Car Clubs as one possibility - one which would not only help with climate change, but would also support people living in rural locations for whom transport options are limited.

Notes for Editors

Malvern Hills Car Clubs was founded in 2010.  It is one of the initiatives to come from Transition Malvern Hills.

The club is run entirely by volunteers, which keeps costs to a minimum.

The club covers Malvern, Colwall and Ledbury.  140 households are members, and the club has seventeen vehicles, including one electric car and a pick-up truck.

Website: https://malvernhills-carclubs.org.uk/