Joy has stopped her weekly postings, but you can still read her stories here ...
My role is focused on bringing sustainability alive within the Councils' and external to the wider community. My aim is to help everyone understand what sustainability is all about and what it actually means for each and every one of us. Ultimately, for me, it is about how we can live and work in balance with the physical environment around us.
Here we are in December, with Christmas fast approaching, I wish I could say I was organised, prepared and ready to go, but I am definitely a last two week shopper and even then if I can do everything in one shop that is success for me.
I also notice I am becoming more and more conscious of what I am buying, what use it will have and if it is needed or wanted.
Needed or wanted, three very simple words but for me they crystallise a very different approach to shopping, whether that be at Christmas or at any other time of the year.
How do you make up your Christmas buying lists? Do you buy knowing where your purchase has come from or what it is made from?
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is a very useful way of waste thinking and helps me when I am thinking of buying something whether that be for work or home. Culturally, as a society we are getting much better at the recycling element, but not so strong on the first two.
Here at Council, we are definitely trying to do more recycling and our internal figures show we are trying hard. It also shows for all our attempts at recycling, we don't always get it right and suddenly what seems like a potentially good hoard of recycling something rouge will have slipped in and the whole lot has become contaminated and has to be thrown away.
We are also trying to rethink how we buy stuff in the first instance and our procurement team are embracing all manner of different approaches. We have a long way to go as we take on a contract by contract approach to improving our buying habits and upskilling on new innovations as we go as technology, products and materials are always changing so our approach always needs to stay flexible.
The biggest challenge for us, as it is for most people, is we need to get to a place where we buy less in the first place, use everything a more before we let it go and then really think about the best way to dispose of every piece of waste we have created.
The appetite to do the right thing is clearly present and I'm often asked what to do with various waste items and we are beginning to ensure 'exit' processes are being included wherever possible.
Do you think about what will happen to your Xmas purchases once the fun has been had? What will your bins be overflowing with after Christmas.
Thinking of my Christmas list then, wherever possible I will not be buying anything plastic unless I know it will get used for a very, very long time. My fruit and veg will be plastic bag free and my stocking fillers will be chocolate and alcohol focused, so still lovely but not destined for any landfill anytime soon, except more gym membership, maybe.
What conscious buying choices will you be making this festive season?
Here are a few links that may help you understand how waste gets handled locally and what actually happens to the waste once it leaves your home.
If you can organise a visit out to the the recycling plant in Ford, I'd recommend going. I promise, it is interesting. It is definitely an eye opening experience and I am pretty confident everyone who goes will learn much more than they expect - I certainly did.
- Adur & Worthing Councils' Recycling information
- UK Waste figures - on the GOV.UK website (PDF)
- What happens to your waste - on the WSCC website
- Ford Recycling plant & Education tours - on the Recycle for West Sussex website
- A different way of thinking about materials - on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website
Photo: Council staff on a fact finding visit to the Ford Materials Recycling Facility (MRF)
So here I am, 9 blogs in and enjoying the delights of writing far more than I expected to. I have no idea what you, the reader, are getting from these blogs but then isn't that the whole point? I write, you read, we both take some form of reflection and then carry on with living and working.
Does anything change though? Have you done or thought differently as a direct result of my writing?
Then again, what is the point of anything!
And there it is, that moment of the overwhelming enormity of it all: What is the point? Is it possible for one human being to really make a difference in this big wide world with so many problems and seemingly so many issues.
Unsurprisingly it's a debate that comes up for me and those I talk with a lot.
So far in my blogs I've talked about cycling, electric cars, energy, climate change, plastic, HiyaCar, education etc and each on their own are big challenges and opportunities for our community. There are so many other subjects to talk and act on as well, from food and waste to water, building, farming ...
Each and every one of us can gain from them, whether that be personal, physical, financial or professional but what we really need it to find ways to break out from our normal habits to make that conscious change.
I bet you're wondering which area you should focus on first, because, surely trying to do all of them is just too much! And again, I hit the point of clarity, you can't do everything all at once, we are only human.
But we can do something different, it just needs a bit of focus and desire to try, to experiment, and it has to mean something to you as an individual. It has to make you feel good, save you money, time or help your family live just that bit better.
Every year I write this Ghandi quote in the front of my work notebook “Be the change you want to see in the world” and every year I make a promise to myself that I will be that person and do something different
It helps I have a job that allows me a very strong sense of purpose to share information, ideas and suggestions for the Councils to act and think more sustainable over the long term, but I still have my own living and life choices to make. It takes a lot of energy (no pun intended) and drive, but as with most other people within Councils that sense of doing things for the greater good of society is a real driver.
As 2017 draws to an end what will you do different next year? Here are just a couple things I do that might be interesting for you to try:
- I have a smart meter so I can monitor my energy use and a water butt in my garden so I don't use mains water for the garden
- Recently bought sustainably sourced shutters (all providenced materials)
- I eat meat rarely, maybe once or twice a week
- I walk regularly on the South Downs
- I do have a bike, but I barely use it as I walk everywhere around Worthing (including to work) and then hop on a train if needed
I am wondering, if I set up a place where we could all capture what we do already what would you be writing on there?
Please let me know if something like this might inspire you to share what you do and what you would like to do?
At the end of the day to be a sustainable place we first have to celebrate what we already do and then go on from there. Game on?
I am loving Blue Planet II at the moment which is narrated by the one and only Sir David Attenborough.
I have been a fan of his for many years and respect his quiet passion and the dedication he has shown for all non human species for decades.
I have learned so much from him without really knowing - I just watch, listen, take in and suddenly I seem to know more! Who knew that sperm whales slept head down in the sea?
It makes me think though - Do we each understand enough about what is happening to the environment around us?
I have noticed within the Blue Planet series for all the wonder and amazement, the realities of climate change and human behaviour have appeared in each of the episodes as if a quiet prompt to really question our behaviour.
This week it zeroed in on our obsession with plastic, our throwaway culture. Do we really know what happens to these toughened pieces of 'material' that have become such an integral piece of modern society.
It got me to thinking with our fast living society; how much do we think about the long term impacts of our everyday actions?
Native American Indians decision making process is always in mind of the 7th Generation. Whenever they need to consider the impact of what they are doing, they consciously think about what the impact will be in 175 - 200 years time!
I'm lucky if I can think about next week, let alone 2217, but in my job here in Council I have to stay conscious of long term impacts. It is so easy for us to slip into the world of busy, and not lift our heads up to stop and consider what is the true impact of what we are doing.
How do I do that ...
I have a sustainability training package which helps inform employees of the global issues and how we and they are all connected. What we do here will impact someone else, somewhere else, so the idea of 'think globally and act locally' is a good way to hold keep our behaviour in check.
It is a mindset change type of training, designed to provoke thinking around climate change, water use, energy use, food consumption and waste to name just a few subjects.
There is also an internal Sustainability Network made up of employees from across the organisation to challenge and support each other to ensure our culture keeps being mindful on how a sustainable Council should be.
And then we have SPAG. Adur & Worthing Sustainability Professionals Action Group.
It's a growing group of local businesses, organisations and public sector sustainability professionals, who come together on a quarterly basis.
We share what is going on, support each other and ultimately look at ways on how we can collectively make the locality more sustainable for the long term.
Long term thinking and action is required by everyone, all of the time if we are to change how our society wishes to be for our future generations.
Are you up for it?
Photo: Sunset over The South Downs
Did you know that by 2040 there will be no more petrol or diesel cars produced?
How many cars will you buy between now and then?
Would you transition to an electric vehicle if you could?
What's stopping you from buying one as your next vehicle now- the cost, range anxiety, or available public charging points?
Too many questions to answer all at once, but plenty to think about ...
I was away with friends in deepest Dorset this weekend and we came close to running out of fuel, thankfully due to the satnav we found a petrol station just a couple of miles away so no dramas ... but, isn't this one of the key fears (bar costs) that concern most people when considering the option of a new technologically advanced electric vehicle?
Electric charging post infrastructure is now rapidly expanding across the UK and it was recently announced all petrol stations must have charging posts installed as a mandatory requirement.
Here in Council, we have also developed an electric vehicle strategy to help us navigate this and ensure we have enough electric charging posts locally to help enable all of us to drive vehicles that no longer contribute to air pollution at the point of driving.
Across Sussex there are over 1,000 electric vehicles on the road and we have over 160 in Adur and Worthing, with many more expected in the next few years.
What we are doing:
- We have just commissioned 8 charging posts as a starting point.
- We have spent time thinking through the long term requirements and how we might best manage, cost and maintain charging posts making sure they are adaptable as the technology continues to develop very quickly, and we can cover our costs.
Where they are going to be:
- 2 posts in High Street Car Park, Worthing
- 2 posts in Brooklands Park, Worthing
- 2 posts in the Civic Car park at Worthing Town Hall
- 2 posts in the Shoreham Centre Car park, Shoreham-by-Sea
Many more will follow over time, but we need to make sure our proposition is right and we expand with the local demand, but we recognise we need to help this start.
How you can get involved:
You can also get funding support for a home place charging point. Click on the link below and you can learn more:
- Home Charging Points - Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme guidance for customers - on the GOV.UK website
Photo: An electric vehicle (Nissan Leaf) belonging to one of the Council staff
So go on, start sharing the good news that Adur and Worthing are installing new and improved electric vehicle charging points and that we can all be a part of the transition, one vehicle at a time.
More reading is available here:
- OLEV - Office for Low Emission Vehicles - on the GOV.UK website
- Grant schemes for electric vehicle charging infrastructure - on the GOV.UK website
- Global EV sales - on the Guardian website
- Electric Vehicle Charging locations - on the Zap Zap website
We are all part of the problem, but we can all be a part of the solution!
Did you know that the UK has committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050? It was confirmed into UK law through The Climate Change Act in 2008.
Why is that important to you and I?
Well, for me, it gives me a clear target to work towards when thinking about the carbon emissions reductions we would like to achieve here in Council. It is quite a large target and 2050 seems like an awfully long way away but reducing our emissions is so important for all manner of reasons:
We are enabling cleaner air. In our ever increasingly urban environment any means to clean up the air around us will be beneficial for all of our health.
We will be reducing our electricity & gas needs. This means we are reducing our energy bills, and let's be honest we are all driven by reducing money.
We are increasing our renewable generation options across our buildings. This will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and that is a big benefit for the planet as a whole.
I could go on and on about the benefits but I want to go back to the point about the 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction UK law, as it is also the UK's contribution to the Paris Agreement (or more commonly known as COP21).
What is that?
The Paris Agreement, or Paris climate accord and Paris climate agreement, is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.
As of June 2017, 195 countries have signed the agreement, 169 of which have ratified it and as I write this blog today the annual get together is currently occurring in Bonn, Germany. The objective is to review the progress and work on how all the different countries can and will work together to enable the planet to stay below 2°C warming.
Each country puts forward their commitment and the UK's is to reduce its emissions by 80% by 2050 and therefore ours here in Council is exactly the same.
We are in the process of drafting a 10 year energy strategy to look at carbon reduction on every corporate building. We will then extend it out further to the other buildings we have a responsibility for. There is no doubt, this will take time, but we will do it.
Photo: Some of our solar panels on top of Portland House, Worthing
There is a saying throughout the energy sector that 'We are all part of the problem, but we can all be a part of the solution' so while we work on our contribution, what will yours be?
Every action, however big or small is a positive contribution and if we all do something, then the change comes through the scale of all of us getting involved.
How can we as a larger community of householders, businesses and people all reduce what we need and work on achieving that massive reduction?
Some other links to review if you would like more information:
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - on Wikipedia
- Climate change mitigation - on Wikipedia
- The Paris Agreement - on the UNFCCC website
- The Climate Change Act 2008 - on the Legislation UK website
- The Bonn COP23 Climate Summit - on the EDIE website
So here we are again, the week has flown by and I've had barely a minute to contemplate what I am going to write about and then there it was, in plain sight!
I'm busy, you're busy - how on earth do we find enough time to stop, reflect and hold on to all the good things that have happened in the last day/ week/ month?!
It is such a symptom of our lives today that we literally tumble from one day into the next and by the time we get to the weekend we are just in recovery mode before we set off again.
So how can we all find a way to just take the pressure off a wee bit?
For me, getting out into nature is what I cherish. There is something about being out on the Downs with my walking boots on, sandwich and tea in my rucksack and away I go sucking in the fresh air, chatting away to friends as we clock up the miles or just listening to the birds and watching the weather change around us.
Photo: The South Downs
Ahhh, just writing about these times helps me feel that little bit more peaceful.
What do you do to find that moment of 'mind space'?
One of the projects I am working on is how we view the health and wellbeing benefits of the green spaces around us, whether that be your garden, the beach, the local park down the road or that little patch of greenery you walk past every day.
Did you know that we can make a material difference to the immune system of our local children just by frequently exposing them to various forms of greenery within their first year of life?
That's a fact I learned recently while working on this, which I find interesting and yet, when you really stop and think about it, it makes such perfect sense.
We might think we know what a good green space offers us, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that actually we do not, because if we did, we would be out in the green stuff so much more. New studies are discovering the benefits are far greater than we could have imagined, way beyond just getting fitter and feeling more relaxed.
As a kid of the 70's, a long term walker, garden book reader and beach lover I appreciate the importance of all green (and blue) spaces around me, but until I read this report I hadn't really understood just how much research existed to show how green space is critical for each of our long term physical and mental well being and health benefits.
It is changing the conversation of reviewing a green space not just from an ecology, biology and biodiversity perspective, but for its critical benefits for the quality of life it enables for you and me.
A book I also read recently is 'The Nature Fix' by Florence Williams. A great read for anyone who wants to explore why nature makes us happier, healthier and more creative.
I'm out on the Downs again this weekend, what will you and your family be doing? Whatever it is, I hope you have a lovely time!
Photo: Goring Gap to the sea
As well as my job being about Sustainability, my personal passion also extends to matters of the planetary stuff and I regularly volunteer for Transition Town Worthing (TTW) (see link below) one of the best kept secrets in Worthing.
TTW is an organisation made up of 500+ local residents all doing their thing in regard to maintaining greenspaces, transport, foodstuffs and energy support to make our local place a more pleasant place to live and work.
This week, I'm writing about Energy as one of the key aspects of both TTW and my job here in Council of course.
With Autumn bedding in and the dark nights approaching (once the clocks go back this weekend don't forget), the lights and heating are sure to be going on more which raises the question of how much you really think about your energy supply.
Did you know that only 35% of us have actually ever switched our energy supplier?
And did you know that the majority of people can save in excess of £200 if they were to switch their energy tariff, and yet still so many of us don't.
I wonder; What would you do with an extra £200 in your pocket this autumn and winter?
Here at the Council, I am looking at ways to help us manage our energy use better and when I was thinking about what to write about in regard to energy I figured sharing some of the different options might be useful for you, our blog readers, too ...
So here goes:
We always make sure we have actual readings for all of our gas and electricity meters, this makes sure we are only ever billed for what we actually use and stay clear of estimated bills.
Do you have estimated or actual bills?
As an organisation we have quite a few different electricity tariffs as we have different size buildings and use within them, so we work closely with our energy supplier to make sure our tariffs are the best fit for the building in question.
Do you understand your tariff whether it be business or residential?
We are always looking at ways to reduce our energy costs and the maintenance teams stay on top of anything that goes faulty and needs repairing.
For example, a faulty freezer thermostat can increase your bill without you knowing so it's really important to keep an eye on things.
We are also investigating how we might have more renewable generation on/ in our buildings and recently installed over 100 solar panels on our Portland House building (see photo below).
These solar panels have already generated over 30,000 kWh of power saving us hundreds of pounds each month, depending on the amount of sun of course!
We are learning to use our energy better, we are saving money and we are using technology to help us.
If you wanted to save more, learn more and get more support with your energy bills, you can. Transition Town Worthing (see link below) hold a FREE energy support service EVERY Wednesday, in St Paul's Cafe, Worthing from 10am to 3pm.
Why not go along, with one of your energy bills and get yourself some support so you too can save money and energy.
Other useful links:
- Energy Switch - Adur & Worthing Councils
- Transition Town Worthing - on Facebook
- Your Energy Sussex (YES) - on the Business West Sussex website
- Worthing Eco Open Houses - 2018's event to be launched soon!
This is great for someone like me, who is always on the lookout for different ways in which we can reuse, repurpose and think differently about how we view our collected and purchased 'stuff'.
The car has become a status symbol for many and yet for much of the time they are sat stationary after delivering us to and from work. Imagine if they could also work for us financially?
We spend so much on taking care of them, Tax, MOT, Insurance, petrol, servicing etc, imagine if they could pay us back in some way.
What is this scheme exactly? In it's simplest form, it is using employees cars that would normally be sat in the car park all day for work business purposes. Instead of using a pool car, driving a colleague's car keeps the money in the local economy, increases the work social network and also in time, will enable the removal of pool cars so we will actually reduce the number of cars on the road.
In previous generations sharing was the norm, share what we have, save someone buying something if someone we know already owns it ... seems so logical to me. Saves on more 'stuff' being made, saves precious materials, saves carbon, saves money and brings people closer together ... What's not to like?!
Unfortunately, my own car is too old (10 years +) to be considered and let's be honest, who would want to drive an old car like mine! However, I like driving my colleague's car and have developed several really nice relationships with the ladies who have put their cars up for the scheme.
There is also something quite fun at being able to use my smartphone to book, unlock and lock the car with no handover of keys required! It's so simple and easy, even for a non techie person like me.
We want to be at the forefront of technology to use it for local social and environmental good. If it helps us to save money as well, then that has to be a truly sustainable opportunity to be explored and utilise.
In my job, this kind of thinking is really important and over time I'm hoping more of us will adopt this way of thinking and doing.
If you are intrigued to learn more about other sharing schemes have a look at:
- Vinted - sell, trade or swap your unwanted clothes
- Spinlister - Rent a bike anywhere in the world
- Dog Vacation
Photo: Caroline Pusey (l) and Joy Moir, of Adur & Worthing Councils, have signed up to the HiyaCar scheme
Worthing is the perfect place to get out and about on your bike, leave the car behind and relive the freedoms of cycling as you may have done as a kid ... or is that just my rekindling of my cycling adventures after being an avid walker for many years?
Yesterday (9th October 2017) I visited the West Sussex Cycle Summit 2017 in Horsham. It was attended by all manner of Councillors, Council representatives and cycling professionals from all around Sussex.
I have been to all manner of conferences and events over the years looking to learn about the latest information on a particular sustainability subject that is gathering pace and it feel's like now is the time for cycling. And where better for a ride than here in Adur and Worthing where it is flat, has a long, wide open promenade, plus the sea and Downs to enjoy!
So what was it all about and what could I take from the afternoon gathering?
How's this for a starter for ten from the very first presentation:
“Imagine if a team of scientists devised a drug which massively reduced people's chances of developing cancer or heart disease, cutting their overall likelihood of dying early by 40%. This would be front page news worldwide, a Nobel prize as good as in the post. That drug is already here, albeit administered in a slightly different way: it's called cycling to work”.
We know that riding a bike is good for you and helps keep you fit, but really, could it have such an impact on our health and wellbeing? Could it really lengthen our lives? Not a bad place to start when thinking about the benefits for cycling.
Did you also know that in the UK only 1 - 3% of people cycle which is one of the lowest levels throughout Europe? I wonder how many of us could cycle to work if we put our minds to it ...
Photo: Cycling on Worthing seafront
Currently, several councils in West Sussex, including us are applying for a DfT (Department for Transport) technical support bid for up to 60 days (shared between us) to help devise and start to develop a physical cycling plan.
We have our thinking caps on looking at the best way of making Adur and Worthing a cycling safe and fun environment. Of course we need to think about everything from cost to routes to kerbs and future developments. It really was an education yesterday on the amount of different considerations are required.
Not as straightforward as you might think, but then nothing really good ever is.
Now, where is my bike? I need to feel the air in my hair as I ponder the possible!
Hello! I am Joy Moir, the Councils' Sustainability Officer and I want to share with you what I do, why it matters to me and why, I hope, it matters for you too.
Though many of us already live and work sustainably, we don't even know it but what is being sustainable all about? When it comes down to it, what does Sustainability really mean?
To quote a definition that is used by many to help demystify this word that denotes my job title and is becoming more and more familiar in our day to day language:
Sustainability is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” Bruntland Report for the Commision on Environment and development (1992).
And in layman's terms: How we make day to day decisions, actions and choices while being aware of the impact they have on the planet, the people around us and the money in our purses!
I first learned about deforestation at college when I was 16, and wondered “why would we just chop down trees and not consider what happens to the other plants and animals that are impacted as a result?”
A big question for a young 16 year old! And in many ways this has stayed with me ever since and as such sustainability, and its positive impacts, have become both my passion and my profession.
I know what you're thinking - does this make me a tree hugger that can't be taken seriously because I appreciate and value the beauty of the humble tree? I hope not. I hope you take some form of comfort from knowing that within the Councils we have people, not just me, who value the natural environment around us.
Do you hold a question from your childhood that you still ponder today?
Over the coming blogs I hope to look at many of the topics my job covers, what I think about it and what questions it brings up for me. Hopefully you will join me and have your own questions to ponder and answer…
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