Resources for community groups

If you’re wondering what your community group can do to address climate change and nature loss, look no further. We’ve complied a list of effective ways which you can do within your group to help address the climate crisis and raise awareness. Click on each button below for some top tips.

In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, some of the suggested actions may need to be modified, run as a virtual event or postponed to ensure they comply with social distancing advice designed to keep you and our communities safe.

Energy

Community Energy

  • Why?
    • Community-scale energy projects enable proactive citizens to make the biggest possible difference. Community energy projects are a great way to both speed up and scale up the rollout of small- and medium scale renewable technologies. These technologies offer several advantages. For example, transmission losses can be kept to a minimum, because generation takes place near the point of consumption. In addition, local generation tends to encourage people to use energy more carefully. This amplifies the carbon savings and makes the power generated go further. The benefits of community energy initiatives go far beyond their direct impact on climate change, energy security and fuel poverty. Energy projects can give groups who don’t normal interact some common ground and a basis for trust and friendship – not to mention a tangible reminder of their successful cooperation. Taking control of your own energy supply can also be highly empowering, boosting a sense of what’s possible among individuals and the community as a whole – and bringing a host of economic benefits to boot.
  • How?
    • Get in touch with the Devon Community Energy Network which can signpost you to existing community energy organisations in your area and help you consider your own local projects.

Not got any suitable community energy projects in your area? Switch your organisation to a green renewable energy supplier or talk to the venue provider about switching to a green energy supplier.

  • Why?
    • Switching to green energy is one of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce your organisations carbon footprint. There are many on-line services that allow you to quickly and easily compare green energy tariffs to get the best deal in your area, and start saving money on your energy bills.
  • How?
    • There are many online services which help you switch to a ‘green tariff’ with all of the Big 6 energy companies now offering a green tariff, however, chose your supplier with caution as some are more ‘green’ than others. Some suppliers simply decrease the amount of renewable energy other clients receive so yours appears more ‘green’ however, in reality, you are not contributing to additional renewable energy capacity, they are simply making everyone else’s energy more ‘brown’.
    • For maximum benefit, we suggest you chose a supplier who can prove that all the renewable energy they sell is produced by themselves on sites which they own.
    • Have a look at this Which article on “How Green Is Your Energy Tarriff?”

Waste

Repair Workshop

  • Why?
    • We throw away vast amounts of stuff. Even things with almost nothing wrong, and which could get a new lease on life after a simple repair. The trouble is, lots of people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves or they no longer know how. Repair Café changes all that! It helps to grow a community by bringing people with special skills together and valuable practical knowledge is getting passed on. Things are being used for longer and don’t have to be thrown away. This reduces the volume of raw materials and energy needed to make new products. It cuts CO2 emissions, for example, because manufacturing new products and recycling old ones causes CO2 to be released.
  • How?
    • Not local to any of the repair cafes? Have a look here about setting up your own repair café and bringing your community together.

Composting workshop

  • Why?
    • Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste, plus it produces compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver. Although most local councils offer green waste & food waste collections, the RHS encourages home composting because it does not involve heavy transport, with its associated environmental costs. Running a workshop is a great way to educate others and share tips!
  • How?
    • Educate yourself on how to compost and the different types of composting methods – some handy advice can be found here:
      • How to set up a compost bin guide
      • How to set up a wormery (for those without a large garden or lots of garden waste) guide here.
    • Alternatively, request support from a local garden centre or community garden to see if they will help facilitate the workshop.
    • Encourage attendees to register for their reduced- price composter from their local council here.  

Litter pick/ beach clean / river clean

  • Devon County Council also provides a community litter pick pack that includes contact details for many of the private beaches in Devon and provides information on what to do with the waste you have collected.

Clothes/ item swap event

  • Why?
    • Fast fashion comes at a huge environmental cost including water pollution, toxic chemical use and textile waste. Clothes swap events helps take items you have finished with and puts them back into circulation. By passing your clothes, accessories or equipment on to others, you are diverting materials from landfill thus conserving resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Reusing a product, rather than buying a new one, reduces the demands for water, energy and raw materials. This reduces the impact on the environment.
         Clothes swaps are also great community events which can be fun and sociable whilst raising awareness of an important issue.
  • How?

Set up a community fridge

  • Why?
    • Today, an estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste. Community Fridges are a public space where organisations and households can make perishable food that would have been wasted available to the local community. They are social spaces which help to reduce food waste, build trust locally and normalise the sharing of foods and other household items
  • How?
    • Have a look at this 5 step guide which provides an overview of how to set up a community fridge or this resource from ChangeX also provides a valuable insight into the commitment involved and some tips on how to ensure success. Check out ChudFridge for a success story in Chudleigh.  
    • Not sure if a fridge will work for your community, consider running a Food Surplus café which can be run as frequently (or infrequently) as required. Check out this handy guide here.

Mobility and Travelling

Promote sustainable travel options for your members or for any events you run

  • Why?
    • 68% of all car journeys taken across the UK are under 5 miles (and 23% are under 1 mile) and transport is one of the largest contributors to Devon’s carbon footprint. If you are running an event, encourage people to travel sustainability.
  • How?
    • Travel Devon has a wealth of resources on how to easily cycle and travel more for shorter distances. For longer distances, it also has a lot of information on planning trips by public transport. Highlighting these resources to your participants or members could help them to adopt more sustainable options. If public transport is not an option, why not facilitate car sharing between participants – signpost them to  liftshare (a national car sharing scheme) or try the Pasty Connection or Car Share Devon to for SW based car sharing.  

Community Transport

  • Why?
    • Community transport is about providing flexible and accessible community-led solutions in response to unmet local transport needs, and often represents the only means of transport for many vulnerable and isolated people, often older people or people with disabilities. Community transport has enormous social and economic benefits to communities across the United Kingdom. Community transport can also have great environmental benefit if it reduces the amount of private car journeys taken in places where traditional public transport is not suitable. For example, ‘Bob the bus’ in Totnes transported children to the local Grammar school after their bus service was axed, which helped to reduce the number of parents driving their children to school.
  • How?

Food

Set up a local farmers market

Why?

  • Over the course of a year the food we eat in Devon has travelled over 230 million miles generating around 240,000 tonnes of CO2. Devon has some of the best food and drink in the country, which is grown and made by people who are passionate about providing quality food. Buying Devon produce supports Devon’s economy, reduces your ‘food miles’ and means you know exactly where your food has come from. It’s fresher, it’s tastier and it’s good for Devon.  Setting up a farmer’s market, or a place where people can share and sell local produce, is a great way to bring the local community together, provide an opportunity for people to buy good quality fresh food and help support the local food producers.

How?

Help people eat a sustainable balanced diet at your events 

Why?

  • Make sure if you’re serving food at events or on a regular basis in community cafes or canteens that you’re making it easy for people to eat a sustainable and healthy diet. 
  • What we eat impacts our carbon footprint in various ways, but the good news is that if we all followed the recommendations of the government’s Eatwell Guide, then according to Carbon Trust analysis, we’d each have a much lower environmental impact than the current average UK diet does and be healthier!  
  • “In terms of the impact upon our current national emissions, if everyone switched to the Eatwell Guide the changes in diet would produce a personal lifestyle footprint measurably lower than at present.” The Carbon Trust 
  • Most of us need to reduce the amount of dairy and meat we consume to meet the recommendations – but this can be hard to do when you’re out and about with limited choices, so if you have control over menus, make meat a treat, which might allow your operation to afford to support better quality local meat and dairy – something Devon is famed for.  
  • Some people are choosing to become vegetarian or vegan, so it’s good to have options on the menu which contain no meat or dairy, but ensure these are balanced meals with all the nutrients needed, such as protein from pulses or tofu. 
  • According to the UN, total emissions from livestock today represent 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions and changing our diets is one of the biggest changes, we can make to address our individual carbon footprint.  
  • It’s also worth finding out more about where the meat you buy comes from and what it was fed on, as grazing land for imported meat and the need for land to grow animal feed is the single greatest driver of deforestation, including in the Amazon, which has major consequences for biodiversity loss. However some farmers grow their own grain for animal feed or feed animals purely on grass. 

How?

Local Environment (Forestry and ecology)

Run a tree planting event

  • Why?
    • Trees are a huge part of the fight for our planet’s future. They lock up carbon, reduce flooding and pollution, nurture wildlife and make landscapes more resilient. Whether you plant at home or in your community, every tree counts. Planting a single tree has benefits for people, wildlife and the environment. Those benefits vastly increase when planting a whole woodland.
    • For schools, communities and neighbourhoods, trees make our surroundings happier, healthier places to be.
  • How?
    • Find a suitable location to run the planting event, both in terms of land ownership and permissions and environmental considerations that the land is suitable for planting. Look at the woodland’s trust guide for more information
    • Request a free tree pack from The Woodland Trust here. (Apply now for trees delivered in November 2020)
    • Check out this video guide of what to do when your trees arrive and how to successfully plant them.
    • Use this RHS guide on how to look after your trees and ensure successful growth into the future.

Set up a community garden

Why?

  • Community gardens can mitigate some of the problems that plague urban areas. They can be a beneficial addition to many communities by increasing the availability of nutritious foods, strengthening community ties, reducing environmental hazards, reducing food miles and creating a more sustainable system.
    • Community gardens can help reduce negative environmental impacts by promoting sustainable agriculture; reducing food transportation costs and reducing water runoff. Humans, plants and animals can all benefit from urban agriculture since it creates habitats and improves the ecology of the area.

How?