Great Big Green Week, the UK’s biggest celebration of community action to tackle climate change and protect nature, is well underway and Suffolk, is playing its part. Here are some of the organisations that are helping to make Suffolk the greenest county
Transition Woodbridge is a community-led group that aims to strengthen the local economy, reduce the cost of living, and prepare for a future with a changing climate. Coordinated by green duo Jane Healey and Carol Steptoe, Transition Woodbridge leads some of the eco projects across the town, including repair cafés, wildlife corridors, food projects, river cleans and edible gardens.
Their Repair Cafes have made an impact across the area by reducing the number of household products being thrown away. Jane says: ‘We were the first in the area and have inspired the Martlesham Repair Hub, Greener Waldringfield, Holbrook Repair Cafe and just this week Stowmarket announced they will be opening their doors.’
The Repair Café’s take place on the first Monday of every month, 10am-12pm. Residents are invited to bring small items such as clothing, small pieces of furniture, soldering items and even electrical items.
Transition Woodbridge have also maximised the effect of Woodbridge Town Council’s rewilding efforts by ask people to pledge a part of their garden to wildlife and rewilding. With nearly 80 gardens signed up, neighbouring gardens can create ‘corridors’ for wildlife such as pollinators, including bats. Jane comments: ‘We have also got a bat expert in town who we are helping to monitor bat activity this summer by hosting posts in people’s gardens for two weeks.’
Stowmarket Eco Future Group
Sharri McGarry and Stella Davis, both in their 60s, founded Stowmarket Eco Future Group at the beginning of the first lockdown.
‘We met through Extinction Rebellion, arranged to take a walk together and talked about the grief we felt over the Climate and Biodiversity Crisis. We decided we both wanted to do something in our community. Two years on and we have a community of 680 people on Facebook, a new website, a thriving WhatsApp group of 40 active volunteers and we have just become a small charity.’
With no such thing as a typical week for the pair, they always have several dynamic projects on the go with many others in the pipeline. To name a few, they currently run stalls twice a month to collect hard-to-recycle plastics, host an exhibition at the Food Museum promoting sustainable gardening, hosted a networking day for eco-groups across Suffolk, and are launching their Repair Café on Sunday October 9.
During Great Big Green Week, Stowmarket Eco Futures Group are painting a mural on the boardings of Stowmarket Recreational Ground, to raise awareness about the Climate Emergency. They are looking for volunteers to colour in the mural.
EcoCarriers BSE has been set up by trustees of the celebrated Bury St Edmunds rickshaw service, to move medicine, food and parcels around the town for customers who want their goods transported carefully and with consideration for the environment. Founded as a community benefit society; a type of social enterprise, the aim of EcoCarriers BSE is to promote and facilitate increased cycling in and around Bury St Edmunds and to help tackle climate change.
Libby Ranzetta, a Director, explains: ‘During the Covid pandemic we couldn’t use the rickshaws for our normal ‘joy rides’ to combat social isolation, so we quickly re-organised ourselves to provide a delivery service in the town for medication and shopping. The idea for this new sister organisation grew from that experience. A few of were keen to try and address climate change through promoting cycling and active travel.’
Earlier this month, the team launched the Bike Train cycle to school project, an ambitious scheme to provide supported group rides to every primary school in the town. Children and parents can cycle in the ‘train’ along a set route and timetable, with experienced ride leaders from the EcoCarriers to keep the group safe. A cargo bike brings up the rear and carries bulky items that the children need for school, and any siblings too young to cycle.
To find out more about these initiatives, visit EcoCarriers Bury St Edmunds.
Headed up by Ipswich litter hero Jason Alexander, Rubbish Walks is a social enterprise encouraging communities to be proactive in the fight against litter. Jason has won many awards for his work, including multiple Creating the Greenest County awards. By inventing inspiring initiatives to educate, Jason aims to tackle the problem at the source as well as removing litter from the environment.
In an exciting project aimed at engaging children in the serious issue of littering: Vintage Litter Museum: Cold Case Files – an Environmental Whodunnit, will see Jason visiting schools across the county as ‘Agent Jason Alexander’. With vintage litter as evidence, he will make use of historic local maps and photographs to encourage to children investigate where the litter may have come from.
While carrying out thousands of litter picks over the years, Jason has collected items dating as far back as the 1920s, found in hedgerows, verges, beaches across Suffolk. It is the largest collection of vintage litter in the UK.
On creating his Environmental Whodunnit, Jason says: ‘I spent a lot of time over lockdown trying to figure out how to make the best use of the vintage litter collection, and I thought about what it all has in common. It’s the fact that littering is against the law, and someone has broken the law. I want to try and encourage the kids that littering is the wrong thing to do. It’s not acceptable to do it on a number of levels – not only for wildlife and the planet, but as well as morally and socially.’
Jason is currently seeking sponsorship for a van, which he can use to remove bags of litter from the environment, and to transport his litter evidence boxes to schools across the county.
You can contact Jason and find out more about Rubbish Walks here.
Councillor Andy Drummond, chair of the Suffolk Environment Portfolio Holders Group, adds: ‘To celebrate Great Big Green Week, we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the fantastic organisations that are helping to make Suffolk the greenest county, to protect the environment and the habitat of local wildlife.
‘Every Suffolk resident has a responsibility to tackle climate change, it’s not something that one organisation or authority can achieve on its own. Which is why our Suffolk Climate Emergency Plan is so important, as we work towards our ambition of a Net Zero Suffolk by 2030.
‘These organisations and individuals are truly inspiring, and I hope by reading their stories you too will be inspired to take positive action to reduce your carbon emissions and protect your local environment.’
Join the growing community of Suffolk residents who want to make Suffolk the greenest county on Facebook. Created by national charity The Climate Coalition, thousands of people across the UK are encouraged to take part in environmental action during Great Big Green Week, ending on October 2. Last year more than 200,000 people took part in their community and online, and this year is expected to be even bigger and better.