12 Years to Save the Planet: Working Groups

Below are the reports in detail from the working groups that formed at our event on 9th February. Drop us a line at steering@ealingtransition .org.uk if you would like to join any of these groups.

Increasing tree cover in Ealing

Report from Open Space Discussion on “Considering where to plant new trees in Ealing using the new mapping technology made available by the Mayor, and linking this with the London National Park City Campaign and its goal to green 51% of London”

Main discussion points:
– Opening up the conversation around what the new technology could enable us to do
– Taking forward the idea of Christmas tree adoption
– Looking at verges and hedgerows as opportunities for linking green infrastructure and as neglected spaces
– Looking at “London Transport in Bloom”
– Exploring the potential for using the mapping technology as the basis of creating an application for the Spring 2019 round of the Mayor’s Community Tree Planting Grant
– Blue and Green Infrastructure as a concept which could underpin a survey, and partnering with an ecologist/arboriculturalist to look at the pattern of trees and their services/functions more holistically e.g. as a flood defence mechanism, or with regard to the distribution and density of allergy-agitators, or according to their relative capacity for carbon sequestration

Questions we have:
– We would like clarity on who is currently planting in Ealing, and where is the planting happening?
– What is the current status of the strategic partnership between Ealing Council and Trees For Cities?
– Who is responsible for maintaining newly planted trees and are there plans in place for care of trees which only have maintenance/stewardship plans for a limited term beyond their planting? Is the council responsible for looking after all trees in Ealing, or is this contracted out, and where are trees in the care of the community? Where are the more vulnerable trees?

People who it could be useful to connect with:
– James Moreton and John Staples – very dedicated Ealing Council rangers, connected with Ron A. Nicholls
– Dr Katherine Drayson – TFL (formerly London Environment) – connected with ETI, gave an introductory talk to the mapping technology last year
– Daniel Raven-Ellison – local Ealing resident and activist who began the National Park City Campaign, connected with Thea Gordon-Rawlings and Nick Reeve
– Kate Sheldon and Sebastian Austin – Trees For Cities, connected with Thea Gordon-Rawlings

Plans and Proposals:
– Explore using the mapping technology to assess the tree cover we have and to identify opportunities for extending tree cover
– Apply for a grant in the Spring 2019 round of the Mayor’s Community Tree Planting Grants with the possible aim of achieving 51% green space/cover by the time the National Park City (NPC) is officially launched in the summer (or do we already have 51%? If so, great, we can just come up with another underpinning concept which possibly links to the NPC)
– Take forward the idea of Christmas Tree Adoption
– Look into green/blue infrastructure assessments of Ealing – have such assessments been made? If not, could we carry out a survey or encourage the council to do so? Ealing appears to be lacking in documents/plans relating sustainability and the environment. When did the last sustainability appraisal/local character assessment take place?
Resources:
London Tree Canopy Map
https://maps.london.gov.uk/canopy-cover/

A Short Blog Post reflecting on the London Tree Canopy Map
http://mappinglondon.co.uk/2018/london-tree-canopy-cover/

London Tree Map
https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/parks-green-spaces-and-biodiversity/trees-and-woodlands/london-tree-map

London National Park City website, with campaign timeline
http://www.nationalparkcity.london/timeline?gclid=Cj0KCQiAkfriBRD1ARIsAASKsQI5IC5fGMbPL-pBXZDOPzwnlaerabWHkcNcyJS514Gi_yWR8naAizMaArWsEALw_wcB

The London Tree Partnership
https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/parks-green-spaces-and-biodiversity/london-tree-partnership
Greater London Authority’s Greener City Fund and the Community Tree Planting Grants, with links to pages detailing previous years’ grant recipient projects (4/17 in 2017-2018 were in Ealing) and a map of the projects
https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/parks-green-spaces-and-biodiversity/greener-city-fund

Next Steps:
– Let the discussion sink in and individually explore the above questions resources and anything else as we wish and/or are able to
– Decide on a place and time for us all to convene again to form an action group and make an action plan
– Continue the discussion via email in the meantime should anything come up

 

Eliminating food waste

1. Re-connecting people to sentiment that food is valuable; to appreciate it again much more than simply seeing it as disposable item they can find in abundance in supermarkets. Food appreciation education in nurseries, schools, offices, events, etc.
There’s an opportunity to connect this food education with education about how various different food choices directly translate into a carbon footprint. Plant-based food education, demystifying some commonly held believes about plant-based foods, veganism, etc. teaching people about the Climate benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.

2. Research schemes that donate left-over food and donate it to people in need e.g.,
https://planzheroes.org/#!/
http://thefelixproject.org/
http://www.cityharvest.org.uk/
and start the converstion with friends, family, your local grocery shop etc to raise awareness that food CAN be donated to the hungry instead of sending it to landfill where it will generate climate loads of harmful methane that contributes to global warming. 1 tonne of methane equals appr. 25 tonnes of CO2!

3. Put pressure on your MPs to make food waste an agenda item as part of the wider climate change debate. France is the first country in the world (by law, enforced as of February 2016) to ban supermarkets from throwing away food away. They must donate unsued food or face a fine! https://www.businessinsider.com/how-france-became-a-global-leader-in-curbing-food-waste-2018-1?r=US&IR=T
Why can the UK not do the same??? Talk to your MPs to influence the political agenda to achieve the UK’s carbon target, creating incentives for large supermarkets to participate in a scheme mentioned in point 2, in case they don’t want to pass a legislation (yet).

4. Minimise portion sizes back home if you notice that you regularly scrape left-over food into your bin at the end of a meal. Ask for smaller portion sizes in restaurants when you eat out or order take away if you know that these portions are too much for you.

5. Respect the food restaurants prepare, ask for a “doggy bag” for the food left-overs and have the remainder the next day. (I personally do that every time and it seems easier for the restaurants to keep their portion size but prepare a bag for you than asking for smaller portions; and they won’t adjust the price down ;))

6. Don’t be lured in by the supermarkets’ “2 for 1” offers as most of it is proven to land in the bin as it goes off. Buy what you know you reasonably consume and check the sell by date before you decide to make a “2 for 1” purchase. May be suitable for tinned food but not necessarily for perishable food like veggie or fruit.
If you end up throwing the “second portion” away, the offer was false economy as one food item would still have been cheaper. Shop smarter and evaluate your consumption before you “overbuy”.

7. Giving food “waste” a second life e.g., freezing vegetable scraps in zip-lock bag and once filled make a veggie broth from it, then, after preparing the broth discard the remaining veggie scraps in food waste bin so it can be used for composting in the garden or in allotments.

 

De-Concreting Gardens 

Many people have inherited a concrete garden and don’t have the skills, strength, resources, will or imagination to change it.

In order to help them to make their garden a mini sanctuary it would need to be free or cheap and low hassle for them.

Reasons for –

– Less run off
– Concrete holds heat so helps to cool our heating city
– Biodiversity. Bees and hoverflies for example
– Improves mental health

We need –

– Equipment for digging up solid concrete and levering up slabs
– Manpower and the skills to use that equipment
– Knowledge and skills and transport needed to dispose of it
– Soil to plant in concrete free area?
– Easy to look after plants and/seeds
– Training?

Marketing ideas

– Set up a stall in a local area (maybe at a carnival?) teaching an activity such as how to make bee hotels and then engage people with conversation and leaflets
– Contact the council sustainability officer (Joanne Mortenson?) and ask her to help. Put an article in the local magazine. London aiming for 50% green so on track with the mayor’s ambitions
– Leaflets through letterboxes
– Competitions such as Ealing in Bloom. Which street has the best gardens? Encourage community spirit.
– Garden Adoption scheme. Great for older people who want a garden but can’t manage it and also company..more community building.
– Cultivate London
– Contact allotments..maybe people on waiting lists would be interested
– Get schools involved so each kid could be given a plant to grow or a wildflower bomb!

Or fundraising so people can do it themselves but provide/organise the equipment and manpower so all they have to do is arrange a day

Reduce Cars Near Schools

• Idling action. London Idling Enforcement
• Road closure enforcement
• Car sharing
• Parents responsibility
• Child health
• One way systems
• Information Not Enough Pilot School
• Mums4.lungs
• Parking enforcement officer
• Idle engine campaign
• School strike 15th February

Repair Café 

Context: Ealing Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Support Group are a local group run through Facebook to support Ealing residents in living more sustainable lifestyles in and around Ealing borough. We have just had our first Make Do and Mend/Repair Café event for clothing and textiles and would like to expand to a full, regular repair café for all kinds of household items. So far the barriers have been cost, insurance and a venue. LF invited ideas from the discussion group to help resolve these problems.
Notes from discussion
Public Liability insurance
• It was suggested that Ealing Transition may be able to act as an umbrella organisation for the repair café, and that its existing insurance might cover the café.
• Questions about how to manage liability for repairs
• Lots of other organisations run repair cafés including Brentford Recycling Action, Stroud Transition, Kingston Transition and Kilburn to Kensal. Contact them to find out how they manage it. Brentford’s is covered by the local Friends of the Earth group.
• Brentford ran theirs through Restart Party who many be able to provide trained repairers
• The Ealing Broadway Oxfam shop also has volunteers trained to check electrical donations who may be able to help or advise.
• Already a number of people who have volunteered their time and expertise, LF is collating a list – thank you to those who volunteered on the day!
• One alternative is that goods are repaired by the owners, overseen by an expert. Also possible to have a waiver for customers to sign.
Venues
• The textile group uses Northfield Community Centre at their charity rate which is very cheap. However, availability is limited.
• Church halls are the ideal venue, good space for different stations plus kitchen and toilet facilities
• Kingsdown Methodist Church on Northfield Avenue is a good central spot with reasonable rates and would get passing trade as well as being on bus routes, etc…
Costs
• Current fees are a £2.50 voluntary donation to cover hot drinks and room hire, but we made a profit after receiving a reduced room hire rate so could rethink costs.
• Option to make a suitable donation depending on what was repaired.

Other discussion points
• A dismantling station for items beyond repair so that children can see how things work
o A fantastic idea in principle – basic electrical repair skills now a largely lost art
o Some safety concerns – don’t try this at home! Sharp edges on internal parts.
• Inviting local repair businesses to attend, offering their skills for free on the day but able to advertise their businesses and take more complex repairs in (for a discounted rate?).
• Forums for communicating to people who are not on social media.
• West London Waste may be able to lend tools and expertise.
Follow up actions
• Email Trevor re PL Insurance
• Contact other repair café groups re logistics
• If successful in gaining insurance then book venue, repairers and volunteers to run the event, eg kitchen/door/set up and tidy up
• Contact local businesses and invite them to attend
• Publicise through Ealing RRR, Ealing Transition mailing list, posters, and local facebook groups, eg Ealing and Northfields Friends, Hanwell Friends, South Ealing Friends, Pitzhanger Friends, etc…

Community Solar 

Ealing Transition has made fantastic progress with their community solar projects with solar. Panels already placed on the following Ealing Primary schools:
● Grange
● Castlebar
● Horsenden
● Mandeville
● Fielding
● Lady Margaret
● Wood End
● Wolf Fields
● Drayton Green
Find out more at https://ealingtransition.org.uk/solar-schools/
This has involved a lot of homework and organisational effort on behalf of Ealing Transition and they now have a ‘formula’ for placing solar on buildings that can be applied to other buildings.
The ideal building must be:
● Large enough to place solar panels on it
● Around for the next 20 years
● Ideally used during the day

The projects already delivered have proven:
● That it is easy to raise money from the community to buy the equipment
● Energy for all / Ethex / Abundance already have the legal framework for energy
co-ops, use these rather than re-invent the wheel.
● Schools are purchasing their energy at lower rates than they would from the grid
Average project size so far is £50,000 with investors receiving a 4.5% annual return over 20 years whilst earning their invested capital back. People can invest from £500 in the project. We’re looking for new buildings that fit the criteria, they could be:
● Car Parks
● Churches
● Council owned buildings
● Halls
● Hospitals
● Leisure Centres
● Libraries
● Nurseries
● Pavillions
● Shopping Centres
● Supermarkets like Waitrose
● Swimming Pools
● Workspaces
If you have connections or are passionate about getting solar on a local building then get in touch with Ealing Transition.

Ealing Council Carbon Offset Fund

All new building projects in Ealing must be carbon neutral and if they aren’t then they will be fined and required to pay into a local fund that is ring-fenced to invest in renewable energy projects. When this fund comes online in Ealing then we can use it to create further Community Solar Projects.

Solar Panels on Our Own Roofs

Works best at scale so the larger the array you can have the better. The mayor would like to get 2kW /6-panel arrays on everybody’s roof. Last year the mayor had a group buy programme (Solar Together London with Solarcentury) which helped reduce the installation cost. Look out for future group buy programmes. If you have a non-standard roof then you will have to go direct to a solar company. There are lots around so look for a personal recommendation. One of our group had successfully used Eco Volt for an installation on a flat roof http://www.ecovolt.co.uk .

Single Use Plastics 

Surfers against Sewage: Plastic Free Communities
This organisation has already a way of campaigning to get councils to sign up for a pledge (I prefer single use plastic free, as I still think reusable plastic will still have a purpose within a sustainable future)

More details about their plastic free communities https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-communities/
For getting a council to sign the pledge they provide this guidance: https://www.sas.org.uk/objective-1-local-governance/

Ealing Festivals: How do we encourage to get them to use sustainable cups?
Event Umbrella organise the festival on behalf of Ealing council. Contact them regarding their plans of their waste Strategy for 2019
Ealing Beer Festival has reusable glasses and Hanwell Hootie looking to move to reusable so Ealing Festivals should be able to do this.

An example of a community that stopped single use items is Boston, Massachusetts. It was started by one girl in a school and then rolled out from there. Might be gain something from their example.

Council Online Petitions: After contacting event umbrella and the council officers, depending on their response, we could set up an online petition for Ealing Council to go single use plastic free and also Ealing Festival.
https://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/201039/committees/1090/petition_scheme/8

GENERAL POINTS:

Water fountains should be designed so that rather than needing a cup that you drink directly from them.

Fast Food Outlets: Is there something that Ealing Council can do when issuing licences to encourage them to move to sustainable packaging?

+ I have written a similar email to Mik Sabiers and also been in touch with Joanne Mortensen, Sustainability Officer at Ealing Council and an email to the overall

The role of civil disobedience in Ealing

• This was a good conversation with energy and passion for direct action!
• We are inspired by the Extinction Rebellion and asked the question – what might this look like in Ealing (the Queen of the Suburbs)? [and it was great to have Cez join the discussion!]
• By civil disobedience, we meant taking some form of direct action. Creating a feeling of our own agency and seeking to use this with decision-makers in Ealing.
• We had an interesting discussion about a positive campaign for a better, brighter, more sustainable future for Ealing. Would this galvanise support in the Borough?
• We wanted to understand what assets we have in Ealing and how could we generate a genuinely inclusive campaign?

I don’t think we got next steps down….. but I would welcome a conversation about taking this forward. Do drop me a line if you are interested.

Hot Composting 

Kitchen waste disposal is a problem:
– There is widespread belief that it is unsafe to compose kitchen waste
– Local food waste collection service is estimated to cost £70/person/year
– Material must be collected and transported to a specialised processor
– There are limited processors (anaerobic digesters) around London
– By-product of aerobic digestion is methane, a potent greenhouse gas
– The end result is essentially not available locally
Another way of looking at this “problem” is:
– Kitchen waste is a nitrogen-rich resource
– With appropriate care, it can be safely composted
– It assists in the making of rich, weed- and pathogen-free compost
– It greatly reduces the time taken to make usable compost
– It helps the gardener compost more conventional green waste quickly
– The end result is an excellent gardening soil improver

The science, very briefly:

Kitchen waste is much richer in nitrogen than conventional green waste (vegetable and garden waste). This nitrogen helps build large colonies of beneficial composting bacteria and yeasts. These strains are responsible for much of the activity in a compost pile. Their life cycle generates heat, and at sufficient temperature this kills weed seeds and plant pathogens. The result is rich compost, free of weeds and diseases.

The process:
Kitchen waste is collected and stored in an air-tight container, to which a mix of beneficial yeasts and bacteria is added. The container is air-tight to ensure that the beneficial agents get a head start over the bacteria and yeasts floating about in the air. The yeasts quickly ferment, rendering the kitchen waste unpalatable to garden pests, and preventing unpleasant odours from developing.
After 2-3 weeks fermentation (or sufficient time to collect a reasonable volume of material), the kitchen waste is added to a conventional compost pile, which must be contained in some fashion but does not require an expensive insulated bin. Kitchen waste and green waste are initially layered, to ensure good distribution of bacteria, nitrogen and carbon (the green waste). In the presence of air, the bacteria rapidly reproduce, generating considerable heat whilst starting the process of demolishing the material in the compost pile. This process is repeated until further building would make the pile difficult to manage. The pile is then rested, at which point the pile cools, invertebrates take over the work, and in around three months there is a wonderful finished product. The benefits:
– There is no requirement for the material to be transported over much distance
– The processing method doesn’t produce significant quantities of methane
– There is very little “infrastructure” required
– The process allows much more green waste to be composted quickly, in less space
– The resulting compost is very nutrient-rich and supportive of plant health
– There is less need for commercial compost

How can this be taken forward locally?

The process lends itself to very small scale, local action. Large operations generate too much heat, and require additional infrastructure and management (there is a place for such operations, but it is beyond the scope of this project). The ideal scale is that of roughly a conventional compost pile with three to six neighbours contributing their kitchen waste weekly. On this scale, the process is easily managed by one person, doing little more than would be required with a conventional compost pile.

The infrastructure is readily available (often for free) and the yeast/bacteria mix is widely available via online sources. Garden space may be at a premium, but community spaces such as allotments and schools could easily be used. Experience shows that getting the scale and process right is key to achieving good results.

So, the proposal from the discussion group is that someone with experience will hold
demonstrations of the process, from start to finish, at a reasonably local venue, for small groups of ideally no more than 4 people. This could start later this spring (when it is warmer and dryer underfoot) on an allotment in South Ealing, and be repeated as required.

What are the obstacles?

It is a common misconception that meat, fish and dairy products cannot be composted, and will necessarily attract vermin. This isn’t so, but the belief is quite firmly held.
Some families are reluctant to participate, possibly because they do not want a neighbour to see what they throw away. Experience suggests that perhaps 50% of people will have such reservations.
The process doesn’t achieve the high temperatures when conducted on a small scale (single family), and those that have tried on this scale have been easily deterred.
There is a general lack of knowledge about the composting process, and many people are
disinclined to learn – they’re already paying for the council’s service and a few bags of compost aren’t that expensive.

Can the scale be broadened?

The numbers of people – and in some cases, community groups – can be increased, but it is difficult to increase the scale of individual projects. The principal reason is that public access tends to lead to inappropriate contributions and poor cleanliness around the storage area, resulting in the possibility of unpleasant odours and vermin infestations. But the scope for spreading small-scale processes is tremendous: there are thousands of allotment plots around the borough, dozens of schools with their own gardens, and several community gardens. If all of these were brought into play, then as many as 5,000 households could end up contributing and the volume diverted from the kitchen waste collection could reach 1.5 million litres a year.

Rationing / Rational Choices proposal – Denis Postle

After researching climate change for 2 years more or less full time for two videos I came to a conclusion: that we faced a ‘climate emergency’ and that whatever we do to move to a carbon free future, the amount of heat already concentrated in the oceans is sufficient to set in motion cascades of climate change that, if coupled with continuation of business-as-usual of the globalised economies, looks to guarantee an acceleration of present prospects for catastrophic harm.
I realised that unless we choose to take comprehensive urgent social action to interrupt the cycles of production/consumption, the planet, a geo-physical biospheric system, would do it for/to us.

As I came out of the considerable grief that this realisation triggered, I saw that one of the options that would be inescapable and that could match the scale of the global task of transforming what I see as our economic obesity, would be rationing. In our breakout group this outline seemed to produce a somewhat shocked reaction, not only to the rationing proposals but also to what I had said about why it would be realistic.
What would be the local options for rationing? Would it be voluntary? Others in the group also recalled their experience of WW2 rationing. I pointed to existing examples of rationing, the congestion charge in central London and its extension (later this year?) to the area inside the north and south circular roads. Other examples emerged, traffic lights, medical rationing; queuing as generic form of rationing. Freecycle as a form of consumer sharing that minimised waste. An example of the options I have heard discussed elsewhere included rationing holiday flights, the first one tax-free, then a substantial tax premium increasing on each subsequent holiday flight.
A key issue we returned to was: would rationing be imposed or voluntary?
Eventually as I recall, discussion focused on the word/name ‘rationing’ as resistible, problematic, off-putting etc. After some chat about this someone suggested that ‘The rational choice’ would be a better way of introducing the topic.
Further discussion might helpfully look at the scale and immanence of the Climate Emergency and how we can make a rational choice between voluntary graceful degradation of our production/consumption economies or waiting for the planet to do it for us/to us. There was a strong suggestion that we explore the root causes of materialism and economic growth.

So far as this seems an inadequate or incomplete account of our discussions please add to it.

Three resources that could take the discussion forward would be:

My recent video: Business-as-usual 10mins

Jem Bendell’s article about Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy
Scientists’ Warning: presentation to the EU Commission Foresight Group video 40 mins

 

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