Join this years Great Big Green Week

Event and recruitment applications are now live!

The 2024 South West Herts Great Big Green Week (GBGW) will take place over the 8-16 June 2024 across Three Rivers and Watford.

We hope you will join us in putting on a celebration of community action to tackle climate change and protect nature. We want to bring together the breadth of amazing organisations working across the area, raise awareness of the work you do and highlight the changes that communities and individuals can make to help create a better tomorrow.


Get involved in 2024

What’s your New Years resolution?
Is it to:
  • try something new?
  • meet new people?
  • get out into nature more?
  • campaign?
  • make a positive difference locally?
  • reduce your impact on the environment?

If you have answered yes to any of the above why not have a look at the wide range of local groups in the links below covering everything from waste/ recycling/ nature/ volunteering/ travel & transport/ energy/ campaigning and so much more……….

We hope you find something you enjoy

A Green Christmas

Anna shares some green Christmas ideas

What is Christmas all about? Do you know what Christmas is synonymous with? Well…

At present an additional 30% of rubbish is being produced and discarded throughout the festive period, when compared with the rest of the year. This amounts to in the region of three million tonnes each year and is made up of:

  • 54 million platefuls of food
  • 500 tonnes of Christmas lights
  • 8 million Christmas trees
  • 108 rolls of wrapping paper
  • £42 million unwanted Christmas presents
  • 100 million black bags full of packaging from toys and gifts

If you are interested you can have a look at What is the Carbon Footprint of Christmas page for more information.

So… what can we all do to be a bit kinder on the environment this Christmas?

Click on the topics below for some thoughts and suggestions – enjoy (and sorry for the tenious links to the Twelve Days of Chistmas!)

Thinking of trees...

  • Real Christmas trees have significantly lower carbon footprints than an artificial trees, especially if it is disposed of properly, by chipping or burning. When buying one, check it’s sustainably sourced with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification. Also buy local to reduce your tree’s carbon footprint.
  • If you choose an artificial Christmas tree then you would need to use this for around 10 years for its environmental impact to be lower than real trees, so keep reusing it.
  • Grow your own.

This turtle dove is bringing gifts home...

  • Be an ethical consumer in your choices – go organic, no electricity, less packaging, reusable, recyclable – think about getting gifts that have a lower carbon footprint.
  • Buy memories and experiences rather than objects.
  • Keep an eye out for suitable second-hand gifts and take a look at the eco-friendly ranges on sites such as Etsy and Ethical Superstore (there are loads of other ethical sites out there to suit all tastes) where you’ll find everything from soaps and kitchen utensils, to bird feeders and toys.
  • Get crafty and make your gifts.
  • Sometimes less is more!

Do you really need three French hens (or turkeys) for Christmas...

  • If you are stuck when choosing what to cook for your main course – turkey has a lower carbon footprint than beef, and vegetarian/vegan options are even lower than that. See some great ideas from Vegetarian Society and The Vegan Society.
  • If you choose a meat for Christmas, choose organic free-range meats and buy local.
  • Don’t overdo it on cheese – this has a very high carbon footprint.

Why not make your own calling birds decorations for your Christmas tree...

All that glitters is not gold. Some of it is in fact glitter...

  • Most glitters are made from plastic, which contributes to the growing problem of microplastics in the environment. 
  • They’re consumed by plankton, fish and birds, causing harm from the build up in their systems. 
  • Some research has also found that PET, the plastic most glitter is made from, can breakdown and release chemicals that can disrupt human and animal hormones. 
  • As a result, some scientists and campaigners are calling for a total ban on glitter.
  • So avoid glitter to make a great positive environmental impact!

With farmers up’ing production to meet demand (on geese and other things), food waste can be a big issue at Christmas...

  • Prepare the right amount of food for the number of people you want to feed.
  • Let people serve themselves the amount they want – food left in a serving dish can be eaten as left-overs the next day, whereas food left on plates will be binned.
  • Use your leftovers in the days after Christmas – if there is too much to eat then share it around or freeze for later.

You could join the swans

  • for some Christmas swimming or…
  • Reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your car use – opting for walking or cycling instead. 
  • Ramblers is a great resource if you’re looking for local walking groups or routes.
  • Also the Woodland Trust  has information on where to go for a frosty forest walk.

Milking all those cows takes a lot of energy – but being in the cow shed is warm – so let's think about the energy we use and how we stay warm...

  • Wear warm jumpers and draw those curtains
  • With a lot of people around and the oven switched on, keeping the house warmer means less heating needed.
  • So as not to have the oven on too long, once cooked turn the oven off and cover dishes and replace them in the oven – they will stay warm.
  • Switch off lights at night, especially outside.
  • According to Flipper, using incandescent light bulbs on your Christmas tree and around the home can cost up to 90 times more to power than LED bulbs, as 90% of the energy is wasted as heat. So a really easy and effective way to reduce your energy bills and help the environment is to switch all of your lights over to LEDs in the run up to the big day.
  • Plug a number of pieces of electrical equipment into a single extension socket so you can switch them all off overnight.

How many spinning tops do you need – the full nine so we have all the ladies dancing? If not, let's rethink Christmas crackers...

  • Get crackers with just jokes and hats.
  • Make sure they are made from recyclable materials, i.e. paper and cardboard.
  • Look for reusable options, many of which are made from fabric and you can fill yourself. Search online for designs to suit you.
  • Make your own crackers. Hobbycraft has some useful tips.

Thinking of leaping – I can see the kids and adults jumping around with the new Wii and Playstation...

  • If you are looking at buying electrical equipment such as TVs, lamps and fridges as a gift, then consider the energy use across their life span. More efficient equipment can sometimes cost more up front, but will save money from energy bills in the long run.
  • If you are getting a console for Christmas, then think of getting games that the family will all want to play. If several family members are together playing on the console, this means they are not all using different pieces of equipment, resulting in a lower carbon footprint.

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to wrap those eleven pipers – so going to get creative! Maybe...

  • Wrap them in a scarf.
  • Use a paper or fabric bag (I can then use these again).
  • Reuse a box and cover it in some classic brown paper (or reuse wrapping paper) tied up with string (with some natural decorations to spruce it up). Reducing the environmental impact as lots of wrapping paper contains plastic and glitter.

I don’t know about you, but I can feel drummers in my head after a round of Christmas shopping – with people rushing around and charging you out of the way for their choice of gift. So...

  • Maybe this year I re-wear what I have, or I could swap with friends or buy second-hand instead of buying new.
  • Reduce impulse buying of things that will go to waste.
  • Do I need those elf slippers or santa jumpers? 

Research from environmental charity Hubbub showed that, last year, Brits spent £2.4 billion on new clothing for Christmas, with the Christmas jumper being one of the worst examples of fast fashion. 

Two in five Christmas jumpers are only worn once over the festive season.

AND FINALLY

Do I need to do cards? Conscious that an unbelievable 1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away by UK households each year, according to Imperial College researchers. So maybe this year I need to think differently...

  • Send e-cards (sent online) as they cut your carbon footprint, save trees and save money.
  • Make my own.
  • Choose ‘plantable’ cards that are embedded with seeds. The biodegradable paper is then planted in a pot of soil and the seeds will grow, while the paper will eventually decompose.

Calling local green groups

As you may be aware Watford and Three Rivers Friends of the Earth (W3RFOE) have organised a Great Big Green Week over the last three years which has involved numerous local groups (Green Watford).  Following conversations with these groups, and others, one requested action that constantly comes up is how great it would be to have a meeting where local green, sustainable and environmental groups can come together with the aim of:

  • connecting different groups to share areas of synergy and potential collaboration,
  • raising awareness of the breadth and depth of work that is undertaken across Watford, and
  • sharing ideas and best practices to support the work we do.

To support these aims W3RFOE are hosting two “connections” meeting:

  • one for Watford groups on the 8th November between 1900-2045 in central Watford, and
  • one for Three Rivers groups on the 29th November between 1900 – 2045 in Croxley Green.

We would like to invite up to 2 people per group to attend, we hope you can make it. The meeting is aimed at groups whether micro local or branches of national bodies, whether voluntary or private sector – and across all green, sustainable and environmental sectors.  

The venue details will be sent to confirmed attendees and refreshments will be provided, the venue is fully accessible.  The agenda for the event will be confirmed 1 week in advance as the structure of the event will in part be dictated by the number and breadth of attendees, and the agenda will therefore be tailored to ensure groups and individuals get the most out of the meeting.

We hope this meeting starts conversations and supports you as organisations, and collectively as groups in Watford, work together and work smart to have the impact we all want and aim for.

If you are interested in attending either event please contact us at sustainableswherts@greenwatford.uk

Great British Spring Clean

Join our litter picks and help improve our area

Be a wildlife saviour and help care for our local environment by supporting a litter pick near you! Join us in supporting the #GBSpringClean.  

There are several events happening locally – we look forward to seeing you there. Some need booking and other just turn up on the day 😊  

Ask Three Rivers to move to No Mow

On 24th November at 7.30pm at the Three Rivers District Council (TRDC) chambers, the Independent Councillor, Alex Michaels, is putting forward his motion to reduce mowing of TRDC grassland. The IPCC, who’s scientific report the most recent COP 26 conference was based off, list loss of biodiversity as one of the key anthropogenic issues humanity needs to solve. If successful this motion will allow our small Council area, like many other Council’s have already done, to start bringing back some of that lost biodiversity.

The grasslands motion is set out below – if you are a TRDC residents please take the time to email your councillors with your views on this motion and, if free, attend the meeting itself.

A speaker from the local wildlife trust is supporting this motion and says: “Grassland is one of the most unique habitats for wildlife and pollinators in the UK. 97% of species rich grassland in Hertfordshire has been lost since the 1930’s and 48% of species associated with it have noticeably declined since 1970.”


The motion:

(1) Hertfordshire has predominately chalk bedrock

(2) Which often leads to conditions which support chalk meadows which have been called ‘the UK’s equivalent of rainforest’

(3) Of the total publicly owned land in the District TRDC owns circa 30%. TRDC resolves to look for opportunities to cease mowing up to 50% of the grassland it owns and manages and replace this with hay meadow management (cutting and clearing twice a year). This will exclude unsuitable areas such as football pitches, areas used for playgrounds (etc.) and include verges, areas in parks and all other areas which are mown and do not need to be mown for a specific recreational reason (e.g. football pitch, playground). This motion will aim to decrease grass cutting by up to 50% of TRDC owned land and achieve concurrent gains in biodiversity. Costs for the cut and lift will likely fall into two areas. Firstly, new equipment which may be paid for by cost savings, reduced mowing where possible, existing budgets or a request to P&R. Secondly disposal costs which should be mitigated by creating sacrifice areas wherever possible, or by sale to a biodigester (e.g. the plant at Royston). TRDC will aim to have a plan presented to LEC prior to April 2022, which will take into consideration biodiversity data gathered in the 2021 audit. TRDC will review relevant officers job descriptions within the Leisure department and ensure sustainability is incorporated to re-enforce this shifting outlook.


When emailing TRDC councillors please include your address (to show you are a resident) – and listed below are the contact details for TRDC councillors (please cc Sarah.Haythorpe@ThreeRivers.gov.uk in to your emails):

alex.michaels@threerivers.gov.uk

Phil.Williams@threerivers.gov.uk

Chris.Lloyd@threerivers.gov.uk

Roger.Seabourne@threerivers.gov.uk

Stephen.King@threerivers.gov.uk

Paula.Hiscocks@threerivers.gov.uk

Lisa.Hudson@threerivers.gov.uk

David.Major@threerivers.gov.uk

Debbie.Morris@threerivers.gov.uk

Alison.Scarth@threerivers.gov.uk

Jon.Tankard@threerivers.gov.uk

If you wish to attend the meeting you need to register in advance with committeeteam@threerivers.gov.uk

THANK YOU!

If you are interested – here are some great links on No Mow:

Road Verge wilding

Mowing in No Mow meadows

COP Day of Action

Watford and Three Rivers Friends of the Earth, as part of the COP Day of Action, organised a march through Watford – marching alongside over 100,000 people in Glasgow, with over 300 demonstrations taking place across the world on the same day.

Marchers called on the UK government to ACT NOW on climate action and end its support for fossil fuels during the UN climate talks.

The marchers carried messages to both global, national and local governments to do more NOW to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees and deliver real and fair solutions to the climate crisis.

With the messages including “Earth’s on fire” the march highlighted the current hypocrisy from the UK Government in claiming to be a world leader on climate whilst building new roads and runways, and continuing to support fossil fuels here and abroad.

Visit the following site to see marches across the UK :
https://cop26coalition.org/global-day-of-action-cop26-coalition-update/

SPOKES Rides For All Project

RIDES FOR ALL | SPOKES SW HERTFORDSHIRE CYCLING GROUP

822 Miles of Local Cycling Routes – ranging from 4 to 46 miles in length

SPOKES South West Herts Cycling Group will, on 27 August as part of its 25th Anniversary celebrations, launch a new resource for cyclists of all abilities in SW Hertfordshire, SPOKES Rides For Allhttp://www.spokesgroup.org.uk/ridesforall/.

The objective is to make available rides that are family friendly, suitable for new cyclists as they build up confidence on longer rides and for experienced cyclists new to the area to show off the lovely countryside available to them.  It builds upon two earlier books of rides that SPOKES has published.  SPOKES Rides For All makes these earlier rides available in digital form as well as adding new routes.

However, it is more than a library of GPX files.  As well as a downloadable GPX file for each ride, it is also possible to download instructions to guide those without a GPS device around the route.  Each ride is accompanied by information about refreshments stops, toilets and points of interest.  The rides range from 4 to 46 miles in length.  Some are traffic free rides, other are all on road or may have up to 75% of the route off-road.

At the time of the launch there will be 53 routes offering 822 miles of cycling with more routes added more as part of this ongoing project.

SPOKES SW HERTFORDSHIRE CYCLING GROUP

If you want to ride and are looking for new routes, take a look at the SPOKES’ web site and enjoy your cycling.  You don’t have to be a Member of SPOKES to access the web site, but you will be welcomed if you choose to join.”

Where do your local candidates stand on saving the planet?

Watford and Three Rivers Friends of the Earth (also covering Hertsmere) asked candidates across the three areas for their views. We asked them how their role as a future councillor will play a part in tackling climate change locally.

Questions covered:

  • Climate Action Plans
  • Reducing pollution
  • Home energy efficiency
  • Local biodiversity and
  • How they will work for a climate ready and resilient local area 

Click here to find out what they had to say.

We look forward to working with the our local authority going forwards as a third of emissions are dependent on sectors directly shaped or influenced by local authority practice, policy or partnerships. Local councillors will therefore be key in delivering the regional and local place-based solutions to make the changes needed.