The Co-op

It’s fantastic to see that Co-op is supporting this years Great Big Green Week. Great Big Green Week is the UK’s biggest celebration of community action to tackle climate change and protect nature. This year’s Great Big Green Week is taking place from 24 September to 2 October 2022, organised by the Climate Coalition. Our Festival is on the 24th September and the Co-op will be joining us.

Co-op supports Great Big Green Week – 24 September 2022 to 2 October 2022

The Co-op is committed to sustainability and has a 10 Point Climate Plan and aim to be net zero by 2040.

As a business, we are being sustainable by:

  • Being a pioneer of Fairtrade in the UK
  • We have one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe as our head office.
  • We source responsibly.
  • We have soft plastic recycling bins in all our stores (see below)

We also trade ethically; have a range of plant-based foods; we work with climate and sustainable development expert ClimateCare and Bells Whiskey to support the restoration of Scottish peatlands; we have compostable carrier bags; we are using less plastic on food packaging and making packaging easier to recycle; using only 100% renewable power

We are offering green funerals through our Funeralcare business; providing green power for businesses through Co-op Power and co-creating the food sharing app Caboodle with Microsoft to reduce food waste in all supermarket stores.

We also work closely with our communities, with 1000 Member Pioneers throughout the UK. Member Pioneers talk about sustainability within their communities as well as many other campaigns we are passionate about.

Litter Litter Everywhere

Helen Tandy, Director, Eco Communities

What’s been going on in the world of litter since last week’s blog. The results of our litter survey are in. Then Tuesday is the day Helen C and I meet at The Yellow Pig Cafe for lunch. On the way I was behind a couple talking about litter. The side of the road was already starting to gather dried leaves and with that a small amount of litter. The conversation went along the lines of what do we pay our council tax for, and that it was disgusting. Yet our survey shows something different. Perhaps we have a divide between the eco supporters that read our newsletters and those that are outside the eco world. In our survey not one person put the blame of litter at the door of the council. Unless it’s based around unemptied council bins I quite agree. Even then I would like to think that if a bin was over flowing people would just take the litter home or find another bin. That was not true when it came to Greyhound Retail Park last Saturday, see below.

Our litter spotting got us into the press this week. My tweet on litter at Greyhound Retail Park was picked up by Cheshire Live.

I still haven’t found out more on who to contact about litter bins in the area if anyone has any ideas let us know.

When it comes to trade waste a seperate twitter storm was around Northgate Street, Chester in the last couple of days.

Cllr Richard Beecham came to the rescue on an issue that was not of the Councils making, as it was trade waste. The huge storm of discussions went on for some time. Then we had a nice mention from Andy as below.

What is the solution to our inability to keep our streets clear or litter and stop our bins overflowing?

Retail Parks are not generally the responsibility of the Council to clear. Who is at fault? The take away businesses which encourage all the litter or those that left the litter at the side of the bin/car/floor?

Trade Waste – this is a cost to the business and so perhaps they need some help understanding how to cut waste.

Even our litter picks ad litter pick hubs cant save the problem of litter but…….

Who wants to get our litter picking again?

  • You can join us on Sunday – we have a family event on at Edgars Field. INFO
  • Do you want to do more solo of group litter picks? Register with us as a Litter Pick Hero – FORM LINK

Finally, after all that depressing litter news, why not watch this little poem to make you smile…..

Get involved with the Great Big Green Week 2022

Great Big Green Week takes place from 24 September to 4 October around the UK and is one of the largest events for climate and nature seen in the UK, celebrating how communities are taking action to tackle climate change and protect green spaces and encouraging others to get involved.

What is Great Big Green Week?

The idea was created by The Climate Coalition. The Climate Coalition is a group of over 100 organisations at 22 million strong. Eco Communities are a member of what is the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action against climate change. Along with key organisations like RSPB, WWF, Fairtrade Foundation, National Trust, The Women’s Institute and more.

What is going on in Cheshire West?

Eco Communities is once again working with Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA), Chester Zoo and other partners to hold a Great Big Green Week Festival for Cheshire West at Grosvenor Park, Chester on Saturday 24th September.

The Great Big Green Week Festival at Grosvenor Park will run from 11am to 4pm, Saturday 24th September and there’ll be something for everyone, nature activities, workshops and stalls selling eco, green and sustainable goods.

We have Early Bird Free tickets which can be booked where you will be entered into a prize draw by attending on the day, for a range of Eco Goodies. The early bird tickets end at the end of August. Although entry to the event is free for all at any time, booking provides important information to help with things like planning how much stock to bring or funding for future activities.

Information on booking a stall at the Great Big Green Week Festival on the 24th September can be found here – LINK

Many other events will be taking place around the UK during the Great Big Green Week and you can view these on the official website. Locally you will find activities in Frodsham on both the 1st and 2nd October. Climate Action Frodsham have its Big Green Day on the Saturday and Cheshire Federation of WI have activities at Delamere Forest on the Sunday.  West Cheshire Museums are planning a Clothes Swap the weekend of the 1st October. Plus more activities are being added all the time.


Visit the Clime Coalition – Great Big Green Week website

If you would like to organise an event in Cheshire West let Eco Communities know on

Check out our Cheshire West Great Big Green Week Website –

Cheshire West Libraries, University of Chester, West Cheshire Museums, Frodsham Climate Action, Incredible Edible Handbridge, Plastic Free Cheshire, Friends of Countess of Chester Park and Chester Zoo will all have activities taking place over the week.

The Amazing Benefits to the Planet of Organic Produce

Helen Chambers, Director Eco Communities

I have been learning more about organic farming this week and have to say I didn’t realise what a positive impact is has on so many areas. With a massive 72% of land in the UK (excluding woodland) being agricultural it feels so important we have more of it for organic farming.

Top 3 benefits:

  • Increased biodiversity – organic farms have on average 50% more plants, insects and wildlife
  • Reduces climate change – the improved soil quality means that it has more nutrients and stores more carbon
  • Protects the waterways – too much fertiliser used in traditional farming leads to run off which can create ‘dead zones’ in rivers and estuaries.

I started looking into organic farming whilst researching what we can do about the increased droughts and floods we are currently experiencing. I was looking on Giki around Organic cotton and how switching from regular to organic cotton can make a big impact. This is because Organic farmers use natural methods like composting to create healthy soil. The healthy soil then acts like a sponge, soaking up water during floods and holding it for longer during droughts!

Cotton takes a massive amount of water resource, with the average cotton t-shirt needing 3,000 litres to produce. The clothing industry was blamed in 2014 for the Aral Sea drying up, once the worlds forth largest lake, due to the amount of water diverted to produce cotton. A lot of organic cotton farmers rely on rain to water their cotton, instead of having to extract water from the ground and so protecting our much needed water resources.

With the current cost of living crisis it may not be front of peoples minds to start switching to organic but if you do have the option to start looking at switching one or two of your common items for organic it could have a big impact. Here are some suggestions to take a look at:

Learn more about the benefits of Organic Milk and Diary

Try this step in Giki around Organic Clothing

See if Riverford can deliver an organic veg box to you .

#LoveParksWeek – is our love of litter picking over?

Helen Tandy, Director, Eco Communities

As love parks week comes to a close it felt like a fitting time to get our next litter pick hub out and into Countess of Chester Country Park . We have a long history of linking events into the park and have regularly done group litter picks with the Friends of the Countess of Chester Park team. With Morag and Andy now feeling like friends, and them doing such fantastic work, we really want to help them keep the park lovely for everyone.

Today they had a fantastic event with lots of families looking for bugs with Record and activities with Chester Zoo. Helen C and I couldn’t stay long, just a quick visit and a chat, but I luckily managed a cup of tea with Morag.

We feel it’s important that anyone can do a litter pick and are conscious that for groups and families to purchase equipment is expensive. We created our Litter Pick Hub project to make litter picking accessible to anyone that can get to a hub to borrow the equipment.

So Countess of Chester Country Park is our newest hub, under the watch of the Friends of the Countess of Chester Park team but available with the code to anyone that has registered with us at any time.

The hub will be installed near the Ranger Cabin. All we ask is that you use the equipment, put the litter picker and hoop back afterwards and ensure the bin is locked again. Then your bags can be left at the side of the bins near the ranger cabin for council collection. Don’t try to force it into the bin at the side is absolutely fine. The white bags are council issue and they know any rubbish is from a litter pick.

If you manage to get hold of a pair of gloves from the bin- get in quick before they all go. These are yours to keep and wash. We don’t need these back.

We are still working with The Welsh Dee Trust on litter picks but the numbers have been really low in comparison to pre covid, the activity on the many Wombles and Litter Pick Facebook Groups has also been quiet.

We are trying to work out what’s changed. Has the public fallen out with litter picks? Help us to understand more by registering your thoughts on our poll below…

Why not get out litter picking again…here are some great reasons to do it.

Free Saturday 5th August? – find us at the The Summer Gathering at Bear Bakery where they have lots of lovely stalls, pop up bar and of course Eco Communities. We have a stall but are really just going to eat lovely bakes. We have a competition for the most (by weight) litter collected.

The Summer Gathering is from 10am -4pm. The litter pick is as and when between 1pm and 4pm, all equipment provided.

If you can’t make is tomorrow register to use one our hubs soon – tell yourself you will do a litter pick within the next week while the weather is nice…

Food for the Planet

Eco Communities has registered to support the Food for the Planet campaign. The project is helping local authorities, businesses and organisations take simple actions to tackle the climate and nature emergency through food. We are looking to encourage businesses to act.

Food and the Climate and Nature Emergency

The food system contributes about 30% to global greenhouse gas emissions – more than transport or energy – and industrial farming is the leading cause of the decline of wildlife in the UK, antibiotic resistance and zoonotic diseases. Additionally, a third of the food we produce goes to waste. Improving the food, farming and fishing system is therefore one of the essential and large-scale ways to help avert climate change and restore nature.

Meat and dairy represent the biggest share of emissions from food and we need businesses to commit to less and better. Your food business can reduce the climate and nature impact of the food you serve or sell while supporting our local economy and promoting the health of your customers. See Food for the Planet FAQs – LINK

The Planet Pledge for Business invites you to choose from a menu of commitments to ensure the food you serve or sell is freshly prepared, local and seasonal and contributes to the local economy. You can download the Planet Pledge as a PDF. Register to sign the Planet Pledge and commit to serve more plants, better meat and freshly prepared food from ingredients sourced locally and fairly.

To sign up, you are asked to select the two mandatory and four voluntary commitments. You are asked to complete the pledge fully by 2025, but take one significant action now, before signing, to get you on track. You might be doing some of this already, for example paying the Living Wage or selling verifiably sustainable fish.

If you are a plant-based restaurant or setting – you already meet the 2 mandatory commitments, all you have to do is select 4 optional commitments.


Act Now and be a Sustainable Palm Oil Champion!

Faye Sherlock, Sustainable Communities Project Officer, Chester Zoo

Unsustainable production of palm oil is wiping out huge areas of rainforest – in order to provide the ingredient for food and household products consumed in the UK and around the world.

Leading conservationists, conservation organisations, wildlife charities and NGOs around the world, backed by detailed scientific research say the best solution to preventing further habitat destruction, protect biodiversity and the livelihoods of people living locally to rainforests, is to use and support deforestation-free sustainable palm oil.

Driving industry change in this direction is vital in preventing further harmful environmental and social impacts. 

In 2019 Chester became the world’s very first Sustainable Palm Oil City, with over 50 organisations overhauling their food supply chains and committing to source palm oil – a vegetable oil used in thousands of household products, from entirely sustainable sources. This included restaurants in the city centre such as Chez Jules, takeaways such as Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove, retailers including Just Footprints, and workplace champions such as Hillyer McKeown.

This project has now expanded, and with the support of the Chester Zoo team is being led in communities across the UK, from Dorset to Plymouth, welsh villages, to cities such as Oxford pledging to become Sustainable Palm Oil Communities.

It can be difficult to relate to a distant conservation issue on the other side of the world, such as the loss of Borneo’s wild spaces, but as buyers we can all make a difference through changing our own behaviours and shopping.

As individuals, we can use our buying power to make swaps from unsustainable products to sustainable (use Chester Zoo’s sustainable palm oil shopping list to check brands!), write to companies and ask if they use sustainable palm oil, and finally – use your voice to spread the word! You can also take a look at how to take action through small steps with this step in Giki.

As a business, check your products, contact suppliers and become a Sustainable Palm Oil Champion, ensuring that where you use palm oil it’s from certified physically sustainable sources.

Email to receive your free toolkit, guiding you through the process to becoming a more sustainable business!

The problem with plastic – why recycling isn’t the answer?

I was emailed a copy of the front of the Mirror this week by one of our
supporters, with the headline ‘Tons of plastic waste put in UK recycling bins
illegally dumped and burnt in Turkey’

This comes up regularly, last time is was when China banned plastic exports.
Sadly the EU have put bans in place around exporting recyclables which the UK
government have not as yet followed, although they say they will.

If you live in Cheshire West I have an answer to the question as to whether
any of your waste will be heading off to Turkey. If you live elsewhere ask your
local authority.

BUT putting lots of single use plastic into your recycling and expecting it
all to be recycled isn’t going to be the case. We cannot recycle our way our of
the plastic problem. We MUST reduce our use of single use
plastic and stop businesses using this option at source. This is why
when you see this. 

We are still only recycling about 9% of plastic waste, you can only recycle
most types of plastic a handful of times before it degrades. PET (those hard
soda bottles) can be recycled more, but still only around 10 times. So we can’t
just keep producing plastic to be used once otherwise the waste mountain just
gets bigger and bigger. In comparison aluminium and glass are much more easy to
recycle and can be recycled more often.

So the goal here isn’t just about the UK banning the export of our
recyclables, but also business and individuals need to reduce our reliance on
this product for packaging.

I am assured by Cheshire West that the region does not ship any pre-processed
plastic waste abroad. Cheshire West Recycling manage the collection and
recycling of the plastics from the kerbside recycling scheme. The Council owned
company work with a number of UK Re-processors who sort the material by polymer
type. All recycling processors are regulated by the Environment Agency, and
approved by CWAC.

Processors shred/flake, hot chemical wash and compound (re-melt) the plastic
back into a recyclable pellet to be made back into either sheets or blown
packaging. The processed plastic may then be exported to other
countries where they are used for the production of new plastic products.

This is why in 2018 we worked to achieve Plastic Free Chester and encourage
the council to do more and why we keep campaigning to reduce single use
plastic, to get the council to take recyclables from street litter and help
more areas of Cheshire West archive Plastic Free Community status.

Read more on CWAC and Plastic Free – CLICK

Read more about Plastic Free Cheshire – CLICK

What’s the best Climate Friendly Diet?

A great read from @Guardian prompted me to wite this blog.

Scientists have concluded that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. Cuts in meat consumption in rich nations are essential to ending the climate crisis.

The story is bigger than this I accept, particularly is a very high dairy regions as we have in Cheshire West, but we could all reduce our reliance on the bigger carbon emitters. Do read the Guardian article and see what you think. 

But that’s not the whole story. You don’t need to go vegan here, this is a about eating less meat and of course reducing food waste is also essential which we will talk about soon.

The Guardian article using reseach from Boston Consulting is suggesting more investment in alternative meat proteins. Boston also intreveiwed 3,700 people and asked would they switch to alternative protein products if they had a possitive impact on the climate and 30% said yes.

I have been eating alternatives to meat proteins for many years, when I started the range was very limited but today we do see more companies in this market and so the options are increased. I tested out one on my husband last night.

In a rush before going away for the weekend I bought a vew items from my local Co-op.

Co-op Irresistible Hereford Beef Burgers – £5.30. These burgers were a pack of 2 with 95% beef, but along with that you have high fat and high saturates. Per burger typical value 425Kcal. Packed in plastic.

Co-op GRO Vegan Incredible Burgers – £2.40. Again a pack of 2, high in fibre and protein, Medium fat and saturates. Per burger 206kcal.

I know you will all say, you can get cheaper beef burgers. But these are generally much thinner and with a lower percentage of beef. I hadn’t bought the burgers planning this blog.

The Vegan burgers in this case win on price, calories, fat and saturates. But can they win the hubby over?

What I got after had eaten his healthier meal than if it was the burgers was a ‘mmmmm about the burgers’ but an empty plate all the same.

If you are a meat eater, would you cut out more meat, for plant based eating and alternative proteins for the sake of the planet?

Just making a couple of different decisions a week can have a big impact on the planet and your health. Here are 5 suggestions from Giki if you need some inspiration:

1) Make a plant based meal for a friend

2) Eat Animal Products once a day

3) Try a plant based food or drink

4) Veggie Lunch week

5) Cut back on Cheese

Paddle, Pick and Picnic @ Thurstaston

This Plastic Free July we are really excited to be going on a beach litter
pick. Our litter picks are linked to our work with Surfers Against Sewage, which
started its campaigning in Cornwall where it was all about plastic pollution on beaches and beach litter picks. As its campaign grew it became more common for them to promote litter picks around Summit to Sea. Although Chester has no beach we always wanted to get to complete at least one litter pick, we did this in 2018 with Chester Zoo at Talacre in Flintshire. A very wet and windy day… 

Our group litter picks this year have actively linked with The Welsh Dee Trust with its campaign to clean up the River Dee. So later this month The Welsh Dee Trust, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, and Eco Communities are off for a beach litter pick. Weather permitting you might get to paddle in the sea and stay on afterwards for a bit of a picnic.

Maddy From The Welsh Dee Trust’s role is around the River Dee in Chester and she told us “The Welsh Dee Trust cares for the entire River Dee catchment, including the tidal Dee. The Dee Estuary, between the Wirral and Flintshire/Denbighshire, is impacted by plastic pollution which starts upstream in the river and is washed out to the estuary and the sea. Places like Thurstaston, on the Wirral coast, are important to clean-up and to raise awareness about the connectivity between rivers and oceans.”

Do something this #PlasticFreeJuly and join is on Sunday 24th July 11am for our Paddle, Pick and Picnic.