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.

We are looking to gathering an initial agreement. We can then support you to pick the remaining 5 and  then achieve status between 2023 and 2025. 

Once we have your initial form we will speak to you about select your 6 commitments. You then have until 2025, complete the remaining 5. You might already be 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 other commitments. You can read the full form below.


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. 


Refill Shed – A Zero Waste Hero

We are sisters Philippa and Caroline & we own and run Refill Shed, which began life in September 2020 in Caroline’s garden shed.  By early 2021 we had outgrown our shed & decided to open a shop in Davenham. Our late Dad was a massive inspiration. He was a dedicated Northwich Councillor & passionate about the environment, so we opened on 5th June 2021, which would have been his birthday.  

In February 2022 we bought another zero waste shop on Altrincham Market – One Small Step.  We hope Zero Waste shopping will become the norm: saving people money, reducing waste and promoting ethical and green values.

Our aim is to help reduce single use plastic by encouraging people to refill and reuse the bottles that they would normally throw away or recycle. We offer a refill service on a range of eco-friendly household, personal care products and loose foods, so you can just buy what you need, so less waste.

All our products are ethically sourced, sustainable and we try to support as many small businesses as possible, especially local businesses.

Facebook –

Instagram – @refillshed  


Scrapadoo – upcycling clothing into quirky items for you and your home. Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming unwanted products into new products of better quality or for better environmental value. Hi, my name is Hilary Belshaw and I run ScrapAdoo upcyling in Northwich. My little ScrapAdoo business was born in January 2020, 3 months before lockdown1. I have a lovely studio in a small outbuilding at our farmhouse in Northwich. I scoured the charity shops for suitable clothing and bedding to use in my workshops and bought 4 sewing machines. For the past two years I have been running sewing workshops using upcyled fabrics for beginners and improvers. During lockdown people got their dusty sewing machines out of the attic and realised they couldn’t use them. It’s so rewarding to help people’s sewing confidence increase and tame their sewing machine. I show people how to turn old shirts into plant pots, bedding into bunting and jeans into bags. This prevents the old fabrics going into landfill. I also run natural wreath and table decoration workshops at Christmas.

See my Facebook page ScrapAdoo for more information – LINK

Email or text 07866 934858 

Luna Tree

Luna Tree was established in 2007, selling fair trade, handmade, silver jewellery and reproduction artworks too.

We have a simple philosophy at Luna Tree ‘ You are unique, your jewellery should be too’.

Built on deep rooted ethics of trade justice and environmental sustainability, we work directly with a community of Hill Tribe silversmiths in Thailand. Here we work in a collaborative way on the jewellery designs, while the village silversmiths run as a cooperative.

The jewellery is all recycled fine silver, produced with traditional silversmithing techniques and hand tools. This hands on approach gives the pieces a uniqueness all their own and an organic feel.

The artworks are mounted reproductions, their juicy colours and eye leading lines bring joy and evoke happiness every time they are gazed upon. We donate 50% of our profits from the sale of the artworks to The Save Elephant Foundation.

Luna Tree has been a continuous member of BAFTS The Fair Trade Network UK since 2009 and is also a plastic free business. We are also members of the Vegan Traders Union and Vegan Founded. All of our products are made without animal exploitation and are suitable for vegans.


Lets celebrate our Plastic Free Achievements!

Helen Chambers, Director, Eco Communities

With it being plastic free July quite often our thoughts turn to what we aren’t doing and need to start.  So this week I wanted to focus on what we HAVE achieved as a community in reducing plastic. 

Starting with our plastic reduction since we started taking steps in our Giki account together.  In total from our commitments and achievements we have saved 1,789 items of single use plastic from landfill by taking small steps in our own lives.   

These are the top 3 most plastic saving steps we have already completed:  

I am one who has switched my milk to a weekly delivery and I wish I’d done it sooner.  You can order online and change your order up to 9PM the night before your next delivery.  I was really pleased to see they deliver oat milk, and you can also order others items last minute (like bread) if you need something for the morning.  If you are in the Cheshire or the North West of the UK then I recommend Mortons Dairies but I am sure there are others out there.  If you know of any we’d love to hear from you at Our Eco Community

The top 3 most plastic saving steps that we are currently trying are also below:  

I haven’t yet put a stop to junk mail so I think I will try this one next. I found this site which might be helpful to others looking to do the same.

I have though changed to plastic free periods, if you are looking for recommendations check out the Moon cup and I got this and my reusable pads from Just Footprints in Chester. 

If you haven’t yet joined the Giki account and you want to see what steps you could take towards reducing your plastic then you can join for free here

There are also some more great ideas for cutting your plastic use here in Gikis latest blog.   

To see what else we are doing as a community to reduce plastic with our Plastic Free initiatives and Litter pick hubs head over here for the latest. 

How Plastic Free is your July so far?

Helen Tandy, Director, Eco Communities

Plastic Free July is a global social movement designed to help people to become a part of the solution to the issues of plastic waste. 2022 is a critical year for us all to turn the tide on plastic pollutants — as businesses and governments respond to public concern.

Plastic pollution remains a truly worldwide problem, affecting communities around the world. Despite our careful sorting, collection, and recycling efforts, plastic is everywhere — from the depths of deepest oceans to the heights of the tallest peaks. 

It is not only littering the planet, but it is now littering our bodies — plastic is even found in the placentas of unborn babies. However, 2022 has shown signs of change. On 2 March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly agreed to a landmark agreement, creating an historic global treaty to end plastic pollution. A shift that the UN says could reduce the volume of plastics entering our oceans by over 80% by 2040; reduce virgin plastic production by 55%; save governments $70 billion by 2040; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%; and create 700,000 additional jobs.

—mainly in the global south.

Eco Communities have thrown everything at the problem this year.

They have started installing their Litter Pick Hubs around the Chester area as a start. This was done to ensure that everybody in Cheshire West can help to keep where they live free of litter, even if they don’t have any equipment.

The litter pick hubs could not have gone ahead without a much needed boost in the form of support and funding from Cheshire West and Chester Council. So far there are five hubs in and around Chester, with more to come to Cheshire West in the coming months. All you need to do to access one of the various hubs in your area is to register online.

Helen Tandy from Eco Communities said “As we went into lock down we shared our Surfers Against Sewage litter pickers with the community with no plan to ask for these back, we felt it was important that anyone can make a difference where they live without the need to buy expensive litter pick equipment and so the idea of the litter pick hubs came about”  You can find out more about the hubs and how to get involved litter picking where you live here —- LINK

Eco Communities are also working towards their goal of Plastic Free Cheshire, with new locations being added to the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Communities Campaign all the time. The group are currently actively supporting the Frodsham, Ellesmere Port, Neston, and Tattenhall areas to become plastic free. This involves engaging with a variety of businesses, schools, community groups, as well as the community at large. Chester became a Plastic Free Community in 2018 and they want to share what they learnt from this with other regions in Cheshire. We awarded the first Business in Neston its award last week, The End of the Avenue became the first Plastic Free Champion in Neston, a step forward for Neston becoming a Plastic Free Community.

If you want to give something a try – read our Plastic Free Cheshire Guide