Your personal actions matter!

We no longer have time to wait for Industry and Government to act on the climate crisis. We ALL need to act and with people and households being the end users of 70% of emissions in the UK, it really does matter what we do as individuals.

Do you ever struggle with what would be the best action for you to take in your own life? The start of a new year is a great time to start looking at making positive changes in your lifestyle.
If we can we want to support you with the tools to be able to understand what your current impact is on the planet, and what actions you can take to reduce it. As it will look different for everyone, depending on factors like your budget and living circumstances.

For over a year now we have been partnering with Giki to help us bring this community a tool to understand their own impact, find ways to reduce it, and see what we are all achieving together as a community. We currently have 112 members of the community working together to reduce our impacts, it would be great for more of us to join and those in the tool to come back and take another step for the planet!
Giki has over 150 steps for every lifestyle and budget. And the best bit is that half of these steps also save money! From small steps such as making sure we only boil the water that we need to larger steps like enjoying a more plant based diet, there is something for everyone.

To help give you the extra motivation we are offering for anyone who joins our Giki account from now until the end of Jan 23 we will enter you into a raffle (drawn at the end of Jan 23) to win a hamper of sustainable goodies.
All you need to do is sign up with this link and take a step, or if you already a member then come back in and take a step! We hope you will find it as useful as we do.

If you have already joined the account then January is a great time to go in and update your footprint for the year ahead. Watch this space also we will be running a challenge in February to take steps to reduce our Food Footprints!

It’s getting colder…tips to keep warm!

The temperature has definitely dropped over the last couple of weeks. Luckily this winter there is a lot of useful information out there about how to reduce our energy usage. Anyone else finding it a bit overwhelming with all the information available through? I am also finding it to be conflicting in places.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, I have found the site Get Energy Savvy really informative and great at the myth busting. I have learnt a lot about radiator valves, who knew they were so important to our heating bills!  Unfortunately, I have very old radiators, with no valves, so not something I have been able to implement. However, I would highly recommend reading the article if you don’t know 100% what the valves are there for and how they work – I didn’t! There’s lots more information on the website, including information on air fryers, instant boiling taps and the importance of oiling our UPVC windows! Mark Thompson, the brains behind this website, will also be delivering a talk on reducing our energy at the Sustainable Winter Fair on 10th December so don’t forget to book a ticket if you don’t want to don’t miss it.

I am currently going through a house renovation. The plan is, as well as increasing the size, we will make the house more sustainable and energy efficient.  In the new year we will be installing an air source heat pump, but at the moment we have no central heating, brr!  We have disconnected our Gas forever, which makes me very happy, and when I updated my carbon footprint I did a little celebration with the amount of carbon savings we’ve made as a household, over 2 tonnes!  If you want to take a look at your household’s carbon footprint and ways to reduce it then you can take a look in the free tool here.

We have obviously been very lucky with the mild October and start of November, so it has been relatively easy to survive without heating since September.   However, working from home all day with the temperature now starting to drop, and the condensation and mould starting to appear around our windows, we are looking for low carbon ways to keep warm. 

I took a look at Gikis 5 tips to stay warm when working from home.  A daily routine now, is tip number two; dress to stay warm and use a hot water bottle and a blanket on your knee. I’ve also been wearing my recycled cashmere handwarmers I got from Leif on our Winter fair last year, which have been a lifesaver.

My 5-year-olds hot water bottle and an old toddler duvet is now my daily comfort blanket

This is not technically about keeping warm but something I haven’t really done before is tip number four; switch off lights and devices when not in use.  I have always switched off lights (with my Mums voice ringing in my head ‘it’s like Blackpool illuminations in here’) but at the end of the working day I traditionally have always put my laptop to sleep, not fully shutting down.  We’ve never really turned the TV off at the wall at night either, as my other half said it ruins all of the settings on a smart TV.  However, it’s now been two weeks of me switching it off at night and I can confirm that this is a myth! 

My next project is to turn the Wi-Fi off at night but I need to do some more research on this as I hear it could slow down your connection overall.  If anyone has any advice on staying warm and reducing energy while working from home let me know. My cheat way is to pop to a cafe and use their heating, it’s also my favourite!

The Spooky and Scary Facts about Food Waste

While the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. Let’s not feel smug as we are not great in the UK.

How much food is wasted in the UK?

  • The UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste in a single year – even though 8.4 million people in the UK are in food poverty.
  • 70% of UK food waste was intended for human consumption, 30% is inedible parts.
  • The average UK family spends £470 per year on food that’s binned and not eaten.
  • Over one third of all food produced globally goes to waste.
  • Billions of pounds are wasted each year when food is disposed of unnecessarily.

Best before labels are causing food waste. We support Too Good to Go campaign, trying to change this. Do you know the difference between ‘Best Before’ and ‘Sell By’? ‘Display Until’ and ‘Use By’?  Many of us don’t, and it’s causing a whopping ten per cent of Europe’s food waste – 9,000,000 tonnes across Europe each year.

Read about the campaign here – LINK

Too Good to Go also has a great APP for find food that might have been wasted by local business, which you can collect for a reduced price.

They have a mission to make sure good food gets eaten, not wasted. Every day, delicious, fresh food goes to waste at cafes, restaurants, hotels, shops and manufacturers – just because it hasn’t sold in time. The Too Good to Go app lets customers buy and collect Magic Bags of this food – at a great price – directly from businesses. Jaunty Goat and Hoole Food Market are even on the APP.

Too Good To Go – Business Sign up

Too Good To Go – get the app to purchase

What about Halloween?

Helen Tandy, Alison Shearer and Kat Tancos, Pumpkin Rescue October 2016 as Friends of the Earth

You can read all about reducing waste around this time of year in our Tellus Magazine and find a Pumpkin Recipe which is tried and tested.

We linked up with Hubbub in 2014 as part of it’s Pumpkin Rescue campaign. This is why, are you looking for a scare this Halloween?

39.9 million pumpkins will be bought this Halloween, and of these, a whopping 22 million pumpkins will go to waste, left uneaten. That’s £32.6 million worth of edible food!

Why? Because after carving, many-a-pumpkin’s guts are simply thrown away. Their purpose as the infamous jack o’ lantern overshadows their true purpose – dinner! The good news is, now 3 in 5 people (59%) know you can eat your carving pumpkin.

Since Hubbub started the Pumpkin Rescue campaign in 2014, the spooky story of the uneaten pumpkins has travelled far and wide, leading to lots of eerie-sistable pumpkin recipes and dishes coming to life to show people how to save them from the bin.

Read the Infographic below from Hubbub and find more about Pumpkin Rescue on the Hubbub website- HERE

Thank you for a Great Big Green Week 2022

The Eco Communities team have just about recovered from Great Big Green Week 2022 and are now planning our next event but we decided it was perhaps time to reflect.

Our Festival in Grosvenor Park was fantastic, thanks to Sykes Cottages, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chester Zoo for helping us with funds. These allowed us to purchase a small number of larger gazebos and tables which we can use at future events in the park and save the costs of hiring.

The day went by in a whirlwind, but we would like to thank all the stall holders, businesses, performers, volunteers as without everyone the festival would not have been so fantastic. Plus of course everyone that joined us on the day and supported the great projects and businesses.

We have had some lovely feedback already. Thanks to Chris Matheson MP for Chester who once against came along and chatted to lots of attendees and stall holders during his visit. “I am always delighted to be able to support Great Big Green Week, a fantastic coming together of people from across the community to take action to improve our local environment. We are very fortunate in Chester to have brilliant organisations like Sustainable Cheshire who are working all year round to keep our communities clean, green and tidy. Though Chester leads the way as an eco-community, we know there is always more to be done. It was a pleasure to join this local event, which gave us an opportunity to think about ways in which we can attract more people to play their part in responding to the climate emergency.”

We wish all the stalls would have been able to fit in the circular area we tried to create as it was a great place for the singers to perform, we hope to increase the number of entertainers next year. We have this message from Ella. Thanks for having us again at the Big Green Day to sing. It’s so wonderful to sing our songs to the Earth outdoors, surrounded by all those other stall holders, businesses, campaign groups, activists and concerned citizens. It was great to have so many people stop and listen to us and even join in. It felt like a really vibrant, busy event and was a pleasure to be part of it. Ella – Heart and Soul Community Singers

I noticed lots of great activities for the children including Incredible Edible, ‘The BGW was lovely, a great opportunity for outreach, and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting people especially the families with young kids. Many a bug hotel was enthusiastically made! Thanks so much for all your efforts. Lisa Incredible Edible Handbridge’

Other Activities

We also encouraged others to get involved and so it was fantastic to see our litter pick hubs being used during Great Big Green Week. Vivo Care Choices fully engaged with litter pick activities during the week. In The Garden Quarter, Water Tower Gardens Vivo Care were out picking in to clear the park and surrounding area.  Helen Tandy rushed pickers over to the Allotment at Stanlaw Abbey Children’s Centre, for them to litter pick on the Tuesday. Plus Meadowbank Lodge in Winsford who were out and about litter picking at Winsford United Football Club.

Councillor Louise Gittins joins Vivo staff and people using services on a litter pick in Neston

The Vivo Care team did some great work with press.

Litter pickers available to borrow in Winsford

Vivo services help keep west Cheshire clean and tidy

Equipment available from council to litter pick in Neston community

Plus events in Frodsham and Delamare, I wasn’t able to get to any of these as I was away but I am sure they were equally as fantastic.

Well that’s a wrap for Great Big Green Week this year but if you attended our Chester event either as a stall holder or attendee we always appreciate your feedback. All our events are arranged on a shoe string and purely on a voluntary basis, even so we still strive to improve and grow year on year.

Great Big Green Week 2022 Participant Survey with a chance to win a £50 ethical shopping voucher

Finally if you have time please help The Climate Coalition with its survey if you attended an event as part of Great Big Green Week. 

Taking a few minutes to answer this survey will help us understand the impact of Great Big Green Week and to make future events even better.  No personal details will be collected and all information is anonymous. We may use some of your comments in our evaluation of the campaign or for promotional purposes.

You can also be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 voucher for either an eco store, charity shop or a local independent retailer. Your details will be separated from your survey answers and only used for the draw. LINK

NHS Cheshire & Merseyside Integrated Care Board

The NHS is the first health service in the world to commit to reaching net zero; we can only do this by working with all our staff and patients. Discover how the NHS is becoming greener, and actions you can take to help.

All 18 NHS Trusts in Cheshire and Merseyside have signed up to ambitious plans to make them net carbon zero by 2040.

Each Trust has published a Green Plan, key priorities from which are contained within the Cheshire and Merseyside Green Plan which will see opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and improve healthy environments across its estate.

Developing new buildings which are energy efficient and sympathetic to their local environment, creating nature gardens and wild spaces, using less water and paper, and improving the efficiency of heating and energy systems are just some of the plans being put in place to meet the target.

Other ways of reducing carbon such as encouraging more walking, cycling and sustainable travel for staff and patients, and exploring the use of re-usable equipment are also part of the plan.

As well as this, hospitals and other sites will look at how they can reduce the emission of damaging anaesthetic gases.

This is the first time that all 212 trusts in the country have their own roadmap to tackle climate change and meet the NHS’s net zero commitments. The new green plans are expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than a million tonnes in the UK over the next three years – the same as taking 520,000 cars off the road.

The climate crisis is recognised as a health emergency, which is why the NHS has become the first health service in the world to commit to reaching net zero; by 2040 for the emissions it controls directly, and by 2045 for the emissions it influences.

Thousands of deaths occur every year in Cheshire and Merseyside as a result of poor air quality and these often disproportionately affect our poorest and most vulnerable communities.

Discover how the NHS is becoming greener – READ

Cheshire and Merseyside Commits to Green Future – READ




University of Chester DOT

The University of Chester has been successful in receiving Cheshire & Warrington LEP Local Growth Funding to provide ICT equipment to help develop digital skills for Education and Business.
Fixed and mobile client access devices, to help demonstrate to education and business the benefits of using digital skills within a wide range of subject areas. The project provides a van, equipped with tablets/laptops, 3D scanners, drones, Oculus and Hololens. The project can support a wide range of subject areas including archaeology, biology, geography, computing, art, media, health, physics, business, etc.

Heart & Soul Community Singers

The Earth Singers

We are an informal group who meet monthly to sing songs to the earth, led by Natural Voice Practitioner Ella Speirs. Each session stands alone and anyone is welcome to join, as a one off or regularly. There are no auditions and all songs are taught by ear. We sing for ourselves and as a public witness of our love for the earth and our grief at the destruction of life and its habitats.

We sing on the last Saturday of each month at various outdoor locations around the city and at green/sustainability/climate change events when we can.

Chester Zoo Wildlife Connections and Champions

Wildlife Connections is a project led by Chester Zoo. Its aim is to create safe spaces for our local wildlife.

You can get involved by;

  • making small wildlife friendly changes to your garden or local green space,
  • recording the wildlife you see
  • becoming a Wildlife Champion and teaching others how to take action for wildlife.

If you want to join the Wildlife Champions course then there are still spaces available for November 2022.