Planting some great ideas to tackle climate change

Tackling The Co-operative Group’s agenda of combating climate change head on, the membership team in the North region has been supporting and leading a number of key initiatives....

A conference organised by the Open University, the Workers’ Education Authority (WEA), Unison and The Co-operative saw 130 people attend the ‘Think Global: Act Local’ event in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where keynote speaker Professor Dermot Roddy gave a thought-provoking presentation on climate change.

Delegates, both adults and children, got stuck into a number of interactive workshops. Topics included recycling old clothes, building wormeries and making the workplace greener. The delegates also gleaned tips from the ‘Hebden Bridge plastic bag lady’, Louise Marix Evans, on running a plastic bag reduction campaign.

Regional co-operative and membership manager Alison Lamond said: “The conference was a resounding success with a number of positive outcomes. We are delighted to hear that a local group in Heaton, Newcastle, is starting a plastic bag-free campaign in its area while many delegates are making their own wormeries.”

The Newcastle Transition Town group also attended the event and it has been invited to bring its workshop to the Transition North Get Together conference on Friday November 6th. This conference is being organised by a number of groups including The Co-operative, Transition Towns Network and Co-operatives UK.

As the transition movement continues to grow — there are now almost 200 registered transition towns across the world — The Co-operative continues to show its support. In 2007, a then-emerging transition community in Marsden and Slaithwaite, was awarded a £5,000 grant.

Marsden and Slaithwaite Transition Town (MASTT) is now regarded as an exemplar in the North and the conference on November 6th will be held in Slaithwaite Civic Hall with a number of workshops around the village. Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Network, Peter Couchman, CEO of the Plunkett Foundation, which promotes and supports co-operatives and social enterprises in rural communities, and Christine Tacon, Managing Director Co-operative Farms, are among the keynote speakers.

“The conference will provide an excellent networking opportunity, and the chance to explore ways of working together as we move into what will be a future with much more emphasis on local,” said co-operative and membership officer Linda Gomila.

The Co-operative has also teamed up with the Leeds Permaculture Network to run a series of workshops across Yorkshire which aims to help people make informed choices on food and energy.

Permaculture focuses on three clear ethics, which are compatible with The Co-operative’s Values and Principles and its social and economic goals. The ethics are that we should take care of our environment, take care of ourselves and each other, and work to live in a just and equitable society.

So far, three workshops have taken place, in Hull, Keighley and Sheffield, which provided attendees with energy-saving and food-growing tips and have inspired delegates to make positive changes to the way they live. Some aim to grow their own produce while others will simply plant more trees in their gardens.

More workshops will take place in September and October for members in Bradford, Leeds and Scarborough.

Working with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) in Leeds, The Co-operative is hosting food-growing celebrations for members and supporters of both organisations. On September 12th, members are invited to Skelton Grange Environmental Centre which features demonstration vegetable plots, while on September 20th, members can try their hand at harvesting and see what’s involved in having an allotment at the Cobden Road Allotment Open Day.

“As well as engaging with our existing members, we hope these events will reach out to young adults and families. They are designed to bring together both groups’ members to learn about each other’s work,” added Linda.

The North membership team, which is project managing The Co-operative Group’s national food ethics workstream, is also actively supporting the Group’s contribution to the Love Food Hate Waste targets with its Watch Your Waste campaign.

Between September and November, 46 events will take place across the country aimed at influencing member and customer behaviour so they will be less likely to throw away edible food. The events will raise awareness of the importance of not wasting food, help improve food storage practices, increase understanding of ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ dates and offer ideas on what to do with left over food.

For more information on any of the projects outlined, please contact the North membership team on 0191 411 2347 or email: [email protected].

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