With the Paris Climate Talks coming up next week, it is easy to think that action for sustainability is something that happens between politicians in meeting rooms. But sustainability starts at home too. That being said, doubts and uncertainties can lead to inaction. People may wonder: What is the point of all this? Where do I begin? How will these actions have an impact?

With this in mind, SAMAFAL, a community group in North London, working through the Selby Trust, has signed up for a series of workshops with Action for Community and Environment (ACE) designed to give practical advice and answer frequently asked questions on how to be more environmentally-conscious.

 

Workshops will be spaced out over a period of 12 weeks and include:

Introductions and welcomes                                                      1 session

An introduction to recycling                                                        1 session

Saving energy                                                                              2 sessions

Reducing food waste                                                                   1 session

Evaluation/celebration                                                                 1 session

 

Over the coming weeks, ACE will cover discussions from the different workshops. Follow this blog to find out more.

If you are part of a community group and would like to sign up for workshops with ACE, email info@ace.org.uk

 

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This December around 190 nations will be gathering in Paris to set a new agreement on greenhouse carbon emissions targets from 2020 onwards. It will be the 21st Conference of the Parts or COP 21 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) forged as a result of Rio 1992 Conference on Environment and Development.

Across the 20th century and the beginning of this 21st century, our economic activities and daily lives have been basing on petrol and its derivatives, whereas carbon and petrol being our main fuels, or plastics and petrol-based products being present in almost all the elements we use. Our economies have been very highly carbon-dependent ones.

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In particular, the energy sector accounts for almost a fourth of the total greenhouse carbon emissions since our energy matrixes still highly depend on non-renewable sources. In the case of the UK, the energy supply sector was responsible for 33% of the country´s greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, being the main source the use of coal and natural gas in electricity generation from power stations*.

Although the COP is a political meeting a bit far from us, common citizens, we can also help at our personal and community levels with our everyday behaviours. The change of the climatic system is a phenomenon that knows of no boundaries and will be affecting all of us so what better than to start working together incorporating more sustainable actions into our daily lives and communities, and help to look after our common home?

What about starting at our houses and…?

  • always turning off lights not being used,
  • using energy-efficient lights as halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs),
  • choosing electrical appliances with a higher energy efficiency (the graph in colors with the labels A, B, C, D or E!),
  • unplugging mobile/pc chargers once fully charged,
  • keeping room thermostats at 20°C,
  • checking your homes´insulation and covering any draft points. You can even make your own recycled draft excluder by using old pieces of cloth and wool!!,
  • using your washing machine at 30°C and only when full,
  • opting for a rack or washing line,

…and in addition reduce our energy bills!!

Tweet us how you are incorporating more sustainable actions into your daily life or check our website to keep updated with more tips on how to make your communities more sustainable!

* Dpt. of Energy & Climate Change. 2013 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Final Figures (www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-uk-emissions-estimates)

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When you think of Halloween, you probably envision candy, scary movies, and trick-or-treating, but what about sustainability? From costumes to decorations, Halloween actually provides a great opportunity to put sustainable practices into action.

Here at ACE we have come some ideas you can do to be “green” this Halloween;

  • Instead of purchasing a costume, make one from used clothing (search your closet or visit a thrift store) or recycled materials.
  • If you decorate with lights, use LED or solar lights.
  • Use recycled materials or natural items, such as gourds and pumpkins, to decorate the home.
  • Instead of shopping at a large grocery store, buy your pumpkins, squash, and other Halloween-inspired vegetables locally.
  • Collect your treats with a reusable bag.
  • Use the innards from your pumpkin to make a pumpkin pie, and roast the seeds for snacking.
  • Reuse or donate costumes and decorations next year.
  • Send out party invitations electronically rather than in the mail.
  • Consider throwing a “zero” waste party—everything is either used or recycled.

Remember all it takes is a little creativity to incorporate sustainable practices into holiday festivities!

Got any fun sustainable Halloween ideas? Tweet us @ACEnvironment or send us an email at info@ACE.org.uk.

Households are responsible for around 7 million tonnes of food per year and over half of that food has never even made it to a plate! While much has been made of the economic costs of food waste the environmental impact is often overlooked. Landfill sites are the third largest source of methane in the US and decaying food is thought to be the single largest source of materials in landfills that creates methane. While methane pollution is less prevalent than carbon dioxide it is 21 times more effective as a greenhouse gas and therefore poses a far greater risk when it comes to climate change.

This has made us at ACE think about what we as communities can be doing to reduce the amount of food waste we are producing.

There are 5 simple steps you can take towards reducing your food waste:

  • Plan – Before you go shopping plan your weeks meals and buy accordingly
  • Buy only what you need – buy the appropriate quantities for your meals. Also always check the use by dates of the food you are buying
  • Store all of your items appropriately – fruit and most vegetables last much longer when stored in the fridge.
  • Get you portion sizes right – most packets of rice or pasta give you information on how much you need per person.
  • Store your leftovers – Leftovers from dinner can make the perfect lunch the next day.

There are many fantastic resources around to help households and communities reduce the amount of waste we are producing.  Check out the Love Food Hate Waste website for recipe and food waste saving ideas.

ACE are going to be delivering food waste reduction training as a part of our Sustainable Communities Project, and are looking forward to getting the first training sessions underway with the good people of Haringey. If you would like to get involved with or think you wold like some training on waste minimalisation then please get in touch at info@ace.org.uk.            

 

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In the UK we throw away around 7 million tonnes of food and drink waste a year! This is both harmful to the environment and to our pockets, where the average family with children wastes around £700 a year!

Whilst preventing food waste is a priority (see previous blog posts) some food waste is unavoidable, such as egg shells or peelings. When this is the case there are other ways to recycle and reduce your wastage. It is important that food waste is not sent to landfill as it does not have access to oxygen so breaks down (anaerobically) into methane – a harmful green house gas.

One method that allows food waste to decompose ‘aerobically’ (with oxygen) is home composting! Composting is a natural process that can turn kitchen and garden waste into nutrient rich food for your garden.

ACE’s compost tips:

  1. Find a space outside in a sunny spot, on bare soil if possible. If you have to place on concrete or pavement place a layer of compost on the bottom to allow the worms to colonise.
  1. Collect food/ garden waste. Take care not to add cooked food, meat or fish as this will not compost.
  1. For the perfect compost add 50% greens and 50% browns to your compost bin. Greens are quick to rot and provide moisture, for example: Tea bags, vegetable peel, fruit, coffee grounds, weeds, grass. Whilst browns are slower to rot and provide carbon and fibre such as: egg shells, cereal boxes, twigs, wool, feathers, tissues, wood chippings.
  1. After around 9-12 months your compost will be ready to use in your garden. It will have turned into a crumbly dark material, perfect for keeping your garden nutrient rich and healthy.

So why not give it a go! They are cheap to purchase and gives you a free supply of nutrient rich compost to keep your garden blooming all year round. If you are unable to compost at home why not contact your local council and found out if they provide a food waste collection.

For more information about composting please visit RecycleNow or tweet ACE with any questions!

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With the recent introduction of the 5p bag charge across England, the figures from Scotland´s first year experience depict a reduction of around 80% in their use.

This reduction is expressed in having saved more than 4,000 tones of plastic and having avoided emitting 2,500 tones of CO2 in a year. In addition, this measure has also helped avoid plastic bags reaching rivers, forests, coasts and all other ecosystems and affecting the wildlife living there by being confused with food or by entangling animals.
Moreover, this measure encourages us to think our role as consumers/shoppers and how our small decisions help us keep our environment in its best shape.

At ACE we have created several campaigns to reduce plastic waste for both businesses and communities. In 2013 we launched our Live With Less Plastic campaign, which aimed to raise awareness and demonstrate the benefits of using less plastic to inspire change. Previously we had worked with small businesses in Ealing to encourage them to convert to biodegradable packaging in partnership with London Biodegradable Packaging.

Have you started carrying your own bag to do the shopping? Tweet or post on our Facebook page how have you incorporated this new change!

Check our Sustainable Communities project for more tips on incorporating sustainability in your daily life!

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has announced in a Statement of Government Policy that Sweden will become one of the world’s first fossil free welfare countries. Whilst they have already hit their 2020 renewable energy goals, 50% of its power is still produced from fossil fuels.

In order to facilitate changes the government is investing around 4.5 billion kronor (around £350 million), which will fund solar and wind energy projects, smart grids and support green transportation and making buildings more energy efficient.

While Sweden is taking a leading role on a global scale to implement changes for a sustainable future, what can you do at home on a more local scale?

At ACE we promote sustainable development in all the work we do, and we encourage people to share their innovative ideas around sustainability. Here are some of our top tips to reduce your fossil fuel use on a local scale:

WASTE

– Only buy what you need

– Follow the waste hierarchy, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE

ENERGY

– Do not leave household appliances on standby!

– Turn down your thermostat and only heat rooms in use

WATER

– Have shorter showers instead of baths

– Use a bowl to wash up rather than leaving the tap running

– Collect rainwater using a water butt to use in your garden

SHOPPING

– Buy locally and in season

– Check out charity stores or car boot sales to buy re-usable items.

TRANSPORT

– Walk or cycle

– For longer journeys use public transport

 

Has Sweden’s pledge to ditch fossil fuels inspired you to make some changes? Why not tweet us to share some of your own ideas? Or check out our Sustainable Communities Project website for some further information.

Most people use plastic bags on a daily basis and do not think about the consequences. But from today (5th October) a new law in England will mean that large retailers will have to charge at least 5p for plastic carrier bags. This new law is part of England’s policy to reduce waste. Last year over 7.6 billion single use plastic bags were given to customers in supermarkets in England, wasting lots of plastic, which is mostly sent to landfill. Plastic bags are harmful to the environment in many ways. They take hundreds of years to degrade and each year huge masses of plastic waste ends up in our oceans.

Whilst it may come as a shock to start being charged for plastic bags, England is far behind other parts of the UK, where Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland have already had laws in place for some time. In Wales a reduction of 78.2% of bags handed out to customers has been witnessed since the charge in 2010.

At ACE we have created several campaigns to reduce plastic waste for both businesses and communities. In 2013 we launched our Live With Less Plastic campaign, which aimed to raise awareness and demonstrate the benefits of using less plastic to inspire change. Previously we have also worked with small businesses in Ealing to encourage them to convert to biodegradable packaging in partnership with London Biodegradable Packaging.

So get ready for todays launch! Why not re-use some old canvas bags or purchase a bag for life? Or try to follow our waste hierarchy when it comes to plastic bags:

Reduce – Do not buy new plastic bags in supermarkets. Try to keep old bags to hand and use your pockets for smaller items that do not need a bag.

Re-use – Reuse old bags when shopping, if you have plenty lying around your home why not re-use them as bin liners or use to carry your lunch in to work.

Recycle – Recycle your old plastic bags at recycling points or in your local supermarket.

 

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For more information about the new charge head to gov.co.uk

Why not tweet us with some of your ideas to waste less plastic or any thoughts on the new charges?

This week is WASTE LESS, LIVE MORE week created by Keep Britain Tidy. This approach brings together organisations and communities to take part in activities that are good for people as well as the environment. Head to www.wastelesslivemore.com to download your own challenge pack, with 51 ways to Waste Less and Live More.

At ACE we aim to promote the waste hierarchy (see below), with a focus on reducing, re-using and recycling.

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Why not take one of the following challenges and see if you can follow the waste hierarchy. Not only will you waste less, but you could also save money! Benefiting yourself and the environment.

 

Try Upcycling

Upcycling is a form of creative re-use and is the process of turning something old or unused into something new and usable. For example, you could turn an old cork board into a jewellery organiser or use old books as shelves! This is a great way to re-use items and a fun way to get the whole family involved.

Ditch Disposables

Try and go the whole day or week without using disposables. Why not switch to reusable coffee cups when out and about. Or try and ‘Live with Less Plastic’ by ditching the plastic bag or swapping plastic bottles for re-usable stainless steel ones. See our website for more details about our Live with Less Plastic campaign.

Go Zero Waste

Why not try and produce no waste for a whole day?! Make a packed lunch using leftovers and avoid buying anything in packaging that cannot be recycled! Try to follow the waste hierarchy: reduce, re-use then recycle.

Go Paperless

See if you can go paperless for an entire day, or if you do need to use paper make sure to print doubled sided or re-use scraps for note taking. As a last resort recycle any paper you do need to use.

 

Hashtag #WLLM15 on twitter to spread the word about what challenges you are trying out this week or why not tweet ACE to let us know or ask for some advice on how to waste less!

 

At ACE as part of our Sustainable Communities Project we aim to promote sustainable living and provide guidance. Our free workshops cover various aspects of sustainable living, with the main purpose to highlight to communities the direct savings they can make by making simple changes.

One aspect of our project is to overcome fuel poverty. Fuel poverty, the condition of being unable to afford to keep your home adequately heated is a serious issue. It is estimated that around 2.35 million households in England in 2013 were in fuel poverty so it is our mission at ACE to help combat this.

Fuel poverty is partially driven by energy efficiency in the home so ACE have come up with some top tips to be efficient with energy:

  1. Be efficient with heating

– Turning down your thermostat by 1°C could save you up to £60 a year

– Only heat rooms in use

– Wear an extra layer to save on heating

– Check for draught points

 

  1. Be efficient with cooking

– Heat your home with cooking

– Make sure to use the right ring for the right thing!

– Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need

 

  1. Be efficient with washing

– Always wash on a full load at a lower temperature

– Hang laundry rather than tumble dry (will also reduce the amount of ironing needed)

– Do not run the tap when washing dishes

 

  1. Be efficient with appliances

– Defrost frozen food in your fridge overnight

– Use energy saving light bulbs or LEDSs.

– Switch off! Do not leave appliances on standby. You could save up to £30 a year just by remembering to turn appliances off standby mode.

 

Why not try out some of our tips and see how much you could save?

ACE has also partnered with uSwitch, a free impartial enterprise for comparing prices of energy and gas bills. Why not head over to their webpage and see how much money you could be saving?

For more information about our project please get in touch at info@ace.org.uk or on 02072506961.