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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Ways to be greener in your community

There are lots of things you can do to help make your local community greener by volunteering for a local environmental project, from planting trees to clearing ponds. You could learn new skills, meet like-minded people and improve your health and well-being.

1. Volunteer and get involved in local projects

Get involved in The Big Tree Plant

There’s no better place to meet like-minded individuals than through volunteering for a campaign or cause you believe in. 

With just a few hours of your time a month, you can make a big difference in tackling environmental problems and improving your local area.

There are all sorts of opportunities for volunteering, like:

  • starting or joining a tree planting groups as part of The Big Tree Plant
  • getting involved in an outdoors Green Gym project and getting fit at the same time
  • organising a car share scheme 
  • finding a local community gardening group
  • joining an allotment scheme

You can find a list of environmental volunteering opportunities and Green Gyms near you from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers website (BTCV), or from Do-it.org.

2. Explore your local green spaces

There are many green open spaces in the UK to explore, ranging from local parks and village greens to the vast landscapes of National Parks.

You could try cycling or walking there if it's close, or see how you can get there by public transport. You can use the journey planner website to work out your journey.

If you are proud of your local green spaces, you can ask your council to try for the Green Flag award. The Green Flag award is a national quality standard for parks and green spaces. 

3. Support your local community and shop local

Shopping locally helps keep local businesses going and supports your local community. It can provide a place where you can socialise and meet friends, as well as shop. 

Buying local helps to support your community, reduce emissions caused by the transport of goods and cut down on car trips.

As well as using local shops you can:

  • take your own bag and cut down on the amount going into landfill
  • find and use your local farmers’ market for fresh, local, seasonal produce
  • walk or cycle to the shops

4. Swap your talents, tips and tools

Swapping skills and DIY or gardening tools nurtures community spirit. Sharing tools makes economic sense too, particularly for heavy duty items that you don’t often use, like garden shredders and rotivators. 

Do you have a particular craft or skill like carpentry, sewing, cooking, gardening or DIY that you can share? If so, you can try setting up a local swap group, or look for one already set up in your area. Other things you can share are:

  • seeds, seedlings, cuttings and gardening know-how like how to compost
  • expensive DIY or gardening tools you may not use often
  • recipes for cooking seasonal vegetables
  • excess produce from your garden or allotment, if you’ve had a bumper harvest
  • set up a car club to share trips

You could encourage friends, family and neighbours of all ages to swap their skills. They could, for example, pass on craft know-how in exchange for help with using the internet. One example might be asking grandparents and children to share their skills.

Organisations like Timebank and Swapaskill have a database of skills, and opportunities for exchanging those skills.

5. Start your own community group

Just Act helps groups take environmental action

You can create your own community group to help foster community spirit and improve your local area. Share new experiences by becoming a Community Champion. It’s easy and can make a positive impact on your life too.

Some things you can do to start are:

  • create or join a local exchange trading scheme (LETs) or barter scheme
  • set up your own EcoTeam with your friends and neighbours to see what practical things you can do to improve the environment
  • create a climate change action plan for your group with help from Just Act

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You could save money, get some exercise and have a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables

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