South Downs Green Fair at the Sustainability Centre May 2019

Lots of inspiration to be found among the stalls and at the talks. Here’s a few ideas from the talks I attended. They are not complete scripts of the talks, and I haven’t double checked the facts, so if you are interested, do investigate further yourselves.

Reality of Recycling, by Stephen Corcoran of

Stephen supplies recycling bins to festivals and other places, separating waste much more than we are used to, for maximum recycling. He spoke very well. A few of his comments:

  • waste companies have very long contracts, so are hard to persuade to change
  • Incineration is burning the value in our waste
  • Landfill really doesn’t get rid on things: a newspaper recently ‘dug’ by archaeologists from a 1980s site could still be opened and read

He recommended a few things to watch: The secret life of landfill; Dirty Britain and Plastic Planet.

Gumdrop recycles chewing gum (which contains plastic!) into school equipment.

He had a fantastic idea for reusing soft single use plastic: clean it, collect it and use for stuffing cushions! He makes waterproof cushion covers out of torn tents at festivals, but anything could be used. This way you can sit on your plastic asset till it rises in value! I’m definitely going to try this at school.

Natural Building by Paddy Cox of Artizans of Wood

Paddy briefly surveyed the various types of natural building – too much to cover here – but made some interesting points about Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery systems (MVHR) being so complicated that their users have little control, even over whether or not to open a window; and straw bale houses, which when faced with clay were found to be surprisingly fire resistant in recent California fires.


Ground Source heat pumps by Graham Hendra of Freedom Heat pumps (Covers)

Graham talked really about Air Source Heat Pumps, which don’t need to extensive underground piping of Ground Source Heat Pumps, but often switchedhis attention between the two. His line was that such pumps are no cheaper than gas boilers but the saving is in carbon not money. There are also grants available for installation.  He came out with some interesting ideas which I’d like to check, but here they are:

  • that turning down a thermostat from 21 to 19 saves less than a tonne of carbon a year per household
  • Changing from a 5 year old gas boiler to a GSHP (or air source?) saves 4-6.5 tonnes of carbon a year
  • Quick bursts of heating use more energy than having the heating on all the time (7-10% reduction in use)
  • Heat pumps are generally fitted outside the house where the old boiler pipes went out, and will chill the area of garden next to them. They run on electricity, so there can be interaction with a PV system


Fashion and Sustainability by Molly Mills

Sustainability in the fashion world has three elements: social/environmental and economic

A cotton T shirt uses 2700 litres of water in its manufacture: enough for a person to drink for 900 days!

Places to look for sustainable innovation: websites of H&M, Stella McCartney, Levis, Nike, Patagonia.

Labels interesting: may say where a product is made, but not where materials are from. Look out for interactive maps of supply chains.

Who can give reliable information?

Greenpeace do product tests; Clean clothing campaign; Labour behind the Label; WRAP; Ellen MacArthur foundation.

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