Local Environmental News and Projects

Here are lots of ideas and information if you would like to reduce your carbon footprint to help tackle climate change and increase biodiversity.

ClientEarth uses the law to bring about systemic change to create a healthier planet. They sued the UK Government over its inadequate net zero strategy and are taking legal action against Shell’s Board of Directors, holding them personally liable for not managing climate risk. You can donate to ClientEarth here.

Have you calculated your environmental footprint? The World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s Footprint Calculator is one of many you can use to measure your carbon emissions.

• Calculate your parish’s carbon footprint and compare it to the national average.

Make your views heard

• Tell your MP about your environmental concerns. Give your name and address, and follow up with a phone call after 2 weeks if no response. Newbury: Laura Farris, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA, 020 7219 4829, farris.mp@parliament.uk. Reading West: Alok Sharma, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA, 020 7219 7131, alok.sharma.mp@parliament.uk.

• If you feel politicians should take more climate action, sign this Greenpeace petition.

Goverment petition to stop new oil and gas. Over 10,000 votes means the government has to respond; over 100,000 means the issue has to be debated. You can see how many people have voted in each MP’s district. 

• If you want to make your voice heard but don’t want to join JSO or XR, check out the new Climate Majority Project spearheaded by Rupert Read.

Grants & Funding available

• Grants available to help businesses to become greener

• If you have a project about nature restoration, nature connectedness and pro-environmental behaviours or community cohesion and connection, apply to the RSPB’s Save Our Wild Isles Community fund. Only 5% of UK land is protected for nature, and communities across the UK play a crucial part in helping to restore nature, whether it’s creating community gardens, or protecting local wildlife.

Eco News Sources

Carbon Brief publishes daily and weekly digests of international eco news with reliable commentary.

Latest news from the Grantham Institute of Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College.

Outrage & Optimism Podcast

 

Where your money goes

Switch to a bank & pension that doesn’t fund the fossil fuel industry, eg Triodos and some Building Societies. Globally, private-sector banks, including top UK banks such as Barclays and HSBC, have invested about $4 trillion in fossil fuel industries since the Paris Agreement came into force in 2016.

Food

Hungry for Change documentary, from the team that made Save Our Wild Isles, explores how farming and nature can benefit each other and how the food chain can become more sustainable.

Chose more sustainable food to eat

Eat more sustainable food, based on vegetables & grains, and with mainly plant-based protein, eg beans, lentils, seeds and nuts. Buy less beef, pork, chicken, dairy & eggs and buy these from local Pasture for Life (eg Brunskill Beef) or biodynamic farms. Globally, food accounts for about a third of all energy use and emissions, and 72% of all water withdrawals. However, some foods are worse than others, eg, beef uses 60% of farmland, but provides only 2% of total calories, and UK supermarket chicken and eggs are produced using soya-based feed grown on cleared forests, wetlands and grasslands.

• don’t buy food that is air-freighted, eg out-of-season berries.

• Did you know the methane emissions of rice cultivation has the same climate impact as aviation?

 Local honey suppliers in your area

Reducing Food Waste

Wasted food contributes 8–10% of total man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and roughly one third of food produced around the world is wasted. Better planning, shopping, storage and use of left-over food in the UK could be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road, and could save the average UK family £720/year.

There are lots of food saving tips on the lovefoodhatewaste website

• According to Oxfordshire Recycles, the carbon impact of food going to waste is bigger than the impact of the plastic packaging. 

• There are several community fridges and larders (in Thatcham, Newbury, Wantage and Marlborough) available to anyone who wants to use food that would otherwise be wasted by the supermarket sytem.

 Lambourn Valley residents can share food for free on this facebook group

 Anyone can use the Olio and Too Good to Go apps to rescue local food going to waste.

No Mow May (extended all summer)

If you leave parts of your lawn to grow wild you create more habitat and food for insects, amphibians and small mammals. You also increase the amount of carbon captured in the soil as more plant and root diversity impacts the fungal properties of the soil that capture carbon. You may also find a host of ‘weeds’ that are edible, being the most local food source that hasn’t needed to be dug or watered or transported. These include nettles, garlic mustard, dandelions, goose grass, lady’s smock and ground elder (which was introduced by the Romans as a pot herb).

Wildlife

How to help wildlife in your garden this spring

Reminder of why it’s important to record your local wildlife.

Help Woodland Trust’s Nature Calendar record the activities of local birds, amphibians, flowers and trees to measure the iimpact of climate change on them. 

Enter your postcode into the Birds on your Doorstep website to find out about the changing fortunes of birds in your area.

• Hedgehog campaigner Hugh Warwick needs our help to reach 1.5 million signatures on his petition and also to gather crucial data on wildlife in the new Mammal on Roads survey

 Why Wild Bees Matter – Roselle Chapman from Wild Oxfordshire

• Dung Beetles in the Downs by farmer & ecologist Sally-Ann Spence in Ashbury.

• Great introduction to learning British birdsongs with Lucy Lapwing on YouTube.

• Thirty eight million birds have been lost in the last 50 years. Please support the RSPB’s campaign to highlight the loss of habitat and nature here revive-our-world.rspb.org.uk

 BBOWT (Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust) facebook page has lots of advice on supporting wildlife and making your garden wildlife friendly. They have a lovely guide to looking after wild bees in your garden. 

 Interesting discussion about the benefits of re-introducing beavers to help manage wetlands

Green Homes & Buildings

 Use less energy in your home, and research fossil fuel alternatives. Energy use in homes accounts for about 15% of UK emissions.

 Would you like to help set up a West Berks Draught Busters group to help residents save energy and money on their home heating?

Congratulations to Newbury Town Council for supporting hedgehog highways in new developments.

If you would like to reduce the carbon footprint of your home, find out about Newbury Building Society’s GoGreen Further Advance Mortgage or GoGreen Self-Build Reward.

• The National Self-Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon offers great impartial advice on retro-fitting your home to make it energy efficient.

Guide to reducing electricity usage from the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

 How to check if your solar PV system is working correctly

 Choices of renewable energy suppliers

• Green Mortgages are available to people who buy environmentally-friendly homes or make energy efficient home improvements. To find out more see here.

• Carbon Neutral Aldbourne group have negotiated a discount on solar panel installations for Aldbourne residents

Transport, Electric Cars & Tech

Choose not to fly, especially long-haul flights or business class, and  Aviation accounts for 3.5% of global warming even though 80% of the world’s population don’t fly.

Use less energy to travel: walk, cycle, car-share, use buses & trains, research electric cars and choose local over far-flung destinations. Currently, road passenger transport accounts for about 15% of UK emissions.

• For a glorious staycation just down the road, check out the charming new offgrid accommodation available this summer at Helen Browning’s Royal Oak in Bishopstone.

• The Enterprise Car Club in Newbury has membership offers for West Berks residents starting at £1/yr (saving £59). Electric and hybrid cars can be rented for an hour up to 7 days.

• Co-wheels electric car can now be hired from Wantage as well as Newbury,

• Carbon Neutral Aldbourne is inspired by this car sharing scheme in Oxford where 20 families share 5 cars and would like your views on a similar proposal in their village.

• Did you know that leaving your engine running when stationary is not only bad for the environment but also illegal? See more here. Also free car bumper stickers can be ordered to spread the anti-idling message to improve air quality.

• According to this league table by Dr Ivanova, the biggest impact on emmissions can come from the amount and way we travel.

• Ingenious kite invention turns wind into electricity in Scotland.

 Hungerford’s Fuel Cell Systems – at the cutting edge of hydrogen train and plane testing

Government & Legislation

• Analysis of the government’s 30 March 2023 response to the Skidmore Net Zero Review (see more here on the Skidmore Review published on 31 January 2023 that outlined improvements the government needs to make).

• The low-down on the 20 March 2023 report from the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) and the measures advised.

Trees and Carbon Capture

• Hampstead Norrey Community Shop is planting its own orchard of heritage fruit trees

 West Berkshire’s Lockdown Woods projects in Hungerford and Newbury initiated by Newbury Friends of the Earth

 Environmental benefits of timber as a construction material.

 Transition Marlborough oversees the Community Orchard in Marlborough.

 HS2 refutrees find new home in Lambourn

 Trees for Schools – free saplings and resources from The Tree Council.

•  Fight for our remaining woodlands like Piggy Wood in Thatcham which is under threat from developers.
 
• Scouts’ woodland diversity and pre-school energy efficiency projects received Newbury Town Council’s first climate change grants

Plastic & Recycling

• We can all help fight climate change by recycling because recycling currently saves 18 million tonnes of CO2 every year, which is the same as taking 12 million cars off the road. But 55% of households still put recyclable items in the general rubbish bin..

Marks & Sparks and most supermarkets collect soft plastics for recycling and Colgate has introduced recyclable toothpaste tubes.

 

An explanation of plastic recycling by Dr Peter Cox

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Guide

See our full guide here for what to do with your stuff.

This guide was kindly compiled by Dr. Pat Watson in partnership with Hungerford Environmental Action Team motivated by COP26 and David Attenborough’s report of biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas and single use plastic pollution.

Clothes

Sustainable Style Blog by Victoria Lochhead from Frankie & Ruby Dress Agency.

Water Quality

• ARK asks everyone to please sign this petition to stop our government from scrapping a law that secured the public’s right to obtain transparent environmental information from privatised water companies under the EIR 2004. 

Hard-hitting interview with Thames Water’s CEO re sewage, fatbergs and bonuses.

• This useful Guardian article summarises the history of our sewage problems and the feasible solutions that are working in other parts of the world.

• We share the water on the planet with wildlife. The more water that is tied up in homes and sewage systems means lower river levels so we need to be careful how much water we use. There are also a lot of chemicals we use in our homes that are not caught in the sewage system but end up in our waterways, threatening beneficial insects and inverterbrates that are at the bottom of the food chain. 

What we can do to help:

• Reduce use of harsh cleaning chemicals and make sure chemicals, plastics and pathogens don’t spill into surface water drains which flow directly into our watercourses including. It should only be rain that goes down these drains.

• Please do not let your dog swim in rivers or ponds soon after it has been treated for fleas, ticks etc as the chemicals in the treatment will harm the beneficial insects and inverterbrates in the water.

• Don’t put wet wipes in your toilet or cooking oil down your sink as they create ‘fatburgs’ in the sewage pipes the blockages will cause untreated sewage to enter our rivers.

Local Environmental Groups

Please consider joining a local group to meet likeminded people in your community and learn more about actions you can take to reduce waste and fight climate breakdown. (Please leave a comment below if you would like to have your group featured here).

You can also support big environmental charities, eg Friends of the Earth, XR, Greenpeace, Population Matters, WWF, BBOWT, RSPB, Just Stop Oil. 

Local Eco Schools

• Congratulations to Parsons Down Infant & Junior Schools in Thatcham and John O’Gaunt School in Hungerford for being awarded their Eco Schools Green Flag with merit.
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3 Responses

  1. Finding the “Local Eco News and Projects” section very helpful as I find myself constantly questioning/puzzling over and exploring green issues. Huge thanks, will keep following along.

    “Making clothes washing ‘soap’ from conkers” link currently broken?

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