Welcome speech at ECN2030 Gathering

On the evening of Wednesday 15th March 2023, at Eastbourne Town Hall, there was a gathering of many of the organisations involved in the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 campaign. The event was opened with a welcome speech from Andrew Durling, the Executive Director of the Eastbourne Eco Action Network CIC:


Welcome everybody and thank you so much for coming along this evening. It’s so good to see you all. I do hope you find this evening both productive and enjoyable. My thanks go to Eastbourne Borough Council, and Councillor James Murray in particular, as well as the town hall staff, for helping to set up this evening, and to Energise Sussex Coast for co-hosting and co-sponsoring this gathering. My gratitude also goes to Miles Berkely, my predecessor as Executive Director of the Eastbourne Eco Action Network Community Interest Company (EEAN CIC), who did so much to help lay firm foundations for the CIC and for the development of the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 Campaign (ECN2030) generally. I also want to thank Pauline von Hellerman and Adam Rose for their great contributions whilst they were fellow directors of the EEAN CIC, during which time we all worked together to help lay the foundations for new, independently constituted groups, such as EcoEd2030 and Treebourne.

Also, on behalf of the EEAN CIC, I want to thank you all for the hard work and dedication you have shown in the ECN2030 campaign so far. You have all done amazing things and I know that you will do even more amazing things over the coming years. I look forward to hearing tonight about some of the inspiring projects and the achievements of the various groups and partners within the ECN2030 campaign. However, not every single group and partner in the ECN2030 campaign is represented tonight. To have updates from them all would take too long. But I do hope that this gathering tonight is just the first of regular such gatherings from now on, and that each time we can highlight different aspects of the strategy and the work of any groups and partners not able to be here tonight.

To put the ECN2030 strategy into context, it aims to reduce the carbon emissions of the borough as much as possible by 2030, with whatever emissions still occurring in 2030 offset by carbon capture of those emissions (such as by planting trees), ideally all within the borough itself, creating a Net Zero result. It is a highly ambitious target, but it reflects the fierce urgency of the Climate Emergency we are now well into. The 2030 target was unanimously agreed by all borough councillors in 2019, so there is a settled political consensus around it, backed up by the enthusiastic participation of many volunteers from across the local community in the campaign to try and reach the target. The EEAN CIC was established in September 2019 as a social enterprise dedicated to facilitating the ECN2030 campaign in any way possible and has developed strong working relationships with Eastbourne Borough Council, local community groups, and local businesses to support cross-community collaboration within the campaign.

But what is the scale of the challenge? The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Manchester says that, in order for Eastbourne to do its fair share under the UN Paris Agreement, then it should achieve an 82% reduction of emissions relative to the 2015 baseline for the borough. By my calculation that equates to a total of emissions in 2030 of just 64 ktCo2. To put that in perspective, the borough’s emissions in 2020 were 276 ktCO2.

But reducing the borough’s emissions has to be done sustainably, as part of an overall strategy to create a truly sustainable town that lives within the ecological boundaries of our one planet. UK emissions fell significantly in 2020, but primarily because of the pandemic lockdown. But that fall could not be sustained because lockdown had to end at some point in order to get the economy going again. A truly sustainable reduction requires systemic, enduring  change across all sectors of the local economy, and in all aspects of our own lifestyles, so that we end up with a town in 2030 where the quality of life is such that it is an even better place to live and work in than in 2020. We can call that a One Planet Eastbourne.

An interactive mindmap of One Planet Eastbourne can be found on a new Community Ecosystem platform on OnePlanet.com that the EEAN CIC has created, and I invite everybody to have a look at it and see what they think. I hope some of you tonight may be interested in becoming part of the team that develops this platform and also provides support for any community group or business that wishes to create its own sustainability plan and connect it to this new platform. In that way we can create a visually engaging, interactive map of all the actions being undertaken within the ECN2030 campaign, joining up all the dots to see where the challenges and opportunities are for scaling up collaboration across the campaign, as well as monitoring the progress made.

The EEAN CIC collaborated intensively with Eastbourne Borough Council and the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce to mount a Sustainable Business & Solar Summit at the Welcome Building last November, which was adjudged a great success by most who attended, forging much closer links between local businesses, councillors, and community energy cooperatives, as well as creating a much greater awareness of the huge potential for renewable energy installations and energy efficiency retrofits throughout Eastbourne, which would result in significant savings on energy bills, make warmer homes, and create more green jobs. Similar summits are now planned for each year of the ECN2030 campaign. I would like to thank my fellow directors, Jill Shacklock and Rob McGowan, in particular for the huge amount of work they put into organising the summit.

Finally, the EEAN CIC has entered into a long-term partnership with the Eastbourne Climate Coalition to develop a Climate Hub for Eastbourne, which will facilitate positive engagement with the local community about how they can become involved in creating a more sustainable and resilient zero carbon town and how they can make changes in their own lives that fit in with One Planet Living as well as increasing their quality of life at the same time. Two pop-up hubs last year  – at the E-Festival and in the Beacon shopping centre – have already taken place, their success proving that the Climate Hub concept can work, thanks to the commitment and creativity of so many local volunteers and community groups.


The following groups made slideshow presentations during the gathering, which can be accessed in the links below:


EcoTransport Group

Energy & Housing Group

Eastbourne Borough Council

Energise Sussex Coast


20mph speed limit gets trial run on Polegate High Street

East Sussex County Council have consulted the public over plans to make Polegate High Street a 20mph speed limit.

East Sussex County Council have consulted the public over plans to make Polegate High Street a 20mph speed limit, which suggests the Council are using the road as trial to see whether a lower speed limit could make the county’s streets safer and cleaner.

The consultation closed on 26 November. Other suggested improvements for Polegate High Street include better pedestrian access and improved bus stop facilities.

The 20mph speed limit trend

There is a growing trend to make densely populated urban areas more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. 

The Welsh government already have a head start. In Wales, the current Government is introducing a 20mph speed limit on certain roads across the country.  The change will be trialled in eight communities to gather data about best practice. If the trial is a success, the 20mph speed limit could become the standardised in Wales by 2023.

Why a 20mph speed limit?

The Daily Mail has reported that reducing speed limits from 30 to 20mph can reduce emissions from a typical car by 28%.

Scientists once thought driving at 20mph was less efficient and more polluting than travelling at 30mph.

However, these scientists based their findings on engines ‘cruising’ over a period of time. New research by Skyrad based on ‘stop/start’ traffic tests, suggests that one might find in a town centre that CO2 emissions were 26% lower at 20mph while NOx was 28% lower at 20mph.

This is great news for campaigners who believe urban speed limits keep pedestrians safe and reduce noise pollution.

Speed limits reduce carbon emissions

Skyrad’s graph shows that the mean CO2 produced is a minimum between 15 and 20mph

Researchers tracked the mean CO2 produced at various maximum speed limits for the average family car in an urban area. Finding 20mph was the most viable limit

According to the evidence, if more UK urban areas enforce a 20mph speed limit, carbon emissions will decrease.

Rob King, MBE and founder of ‘20’s Plenty for Us’, praised the research’s findings

He said ‘This research quantifies the effect and shows how reducing maximum speeds can have a significant effect on emissions.’

Speed limits improve air quality 

Skyrad’s second graph shows that a lower speed limit would also improve air quality by reducing the amount of NOx. A combustion engine produces NOx, a harmful pollutant, when it burns fuel.

They also looked at NOx, nitrogen dioxide and monoxide, produced at various speed limits

Speed Limits: The Transport Group view

1] The EEAN transport Group support this project in Polegate and are keen to see other similar projects in the Eastbourne. In response to the consultation, the EEAN Transport Group suggested further improvements to the plan.Install low cost ‘implied’ zebra crossings. These cost less than £1,000 each and do not include a Belisha Beacon, which can take the cost to around £30,000. In Greater Manchester, early trials show that drivers are more likely to give way to pedestrians when an ‘implied’ zebra crossing is in place. The implementation of the ‘implied’ zebra would give more priority to pedestrians, particularly children and older adults. An ‘implied’ zebra crossing would also improve mobility between transport hubs on the High Street.

2] Providing more prominent signage to encourage drivers to turn their engines off while stopped at the Polegate railway crossing.  This would improve air quality for pedestrians and residents. The signage should be extended along the road on both sides of the crossing so that more drivers are aware of the request to turn off their engines. In our experience of walking along the High Street when the crossing is closed, most drivers do not turn off their engines.

David Everson

EEAN Transport Group

Will Eastbourne get a share of a £3bn bus fund?

We all know that East Sussex County Council hold the future of the Eastbourne bus service in their hands.

We all know that East Sussex County Council hold the future of the Eastbourne bus service in their hands.

A new report indicates that bus usage in the United Kingdom has decreased over the past decade as more people take journeys in their cars. The Annual Bus Statistics Report shows that over half a billion less bus journeys were made per year between 2010 and 2020, a fall of some 11.8 per cent compared to previous decades.

The decline in bus passengers across the country, particularly in England, has caused significant concern among local authorities. In March 2021, the Government announced Bus Back Better, a £3bn fund to help Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) make English bus services more appealing to people who live outside of London.

In June 2021, East Sussex County Council, which is the LTA for Eastbourne, declared the Council would pursue an Enhanced Bus Partnership in partnership with Stagecoach. The Council and Stagecoach must submit a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to the Government, who will then choose whether or not to reward the funding to Eastbourne.

Why does Eastbourne need a Bus Service Improvement Plan?

Investing in a better bus service could reduce the rush hour traffic on key Eastbourne routes, such as Lottbridge Drove

One of the Bus Back Better scheme’s aims is to move England towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050. By stimulating the greater use of buses, the hope is that there will be fewer private car journeys. As a result, traffic congestion will decrease, which in turn will cut down the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere.

The next deadline for all LTAs to submit their proposals is the end of October 2021.  East Sussex County Council are required to publish their Bus Service Improvement Plan, which is highly anticipated by many Eastbourne residents.

A large part of the £3bn funding is dedicated to buying zero emission buses. However, East Sussex County Council will only receive funding if their bid is approved. The Government is clear that the funding will be allocated on the basis of the ’overall quality of the BSIP’. If East Sussex County Council submit a poor plan, Eastbourne could receive less funding than expected.

If the bid is successful, what can Eastbourne residents expect to see?

A better bus service is in reach…but only if East Sussex County Council can win over the Government

Because the government funding is spread thin across England, it is likely that local bus services will only receive enough money to make a few minor changes. As for spending the money, East Sussex County Council have several possible options. These “leveling up” plans could include the following:

  • More frequent buses.
  • Bus priority measure to speed up buses (e.g. limiting some road side parking).
  • Lower fares.
  • More comprehensive coverage by bus services.
  • Sections of bus lanes on roads.

What do Eastbourne residents want from a modern bus service?

A fleet of Stagecoach buses waiting for someone to invest in their wheels

Between August and September, the Eastbourne Eco Action Network CIC created a survey to find out what Eastbourne actually wanted from a modern bus service. Almost 300 people responded and their thoughts were inspiring.  The EEAN’s Bus Survey Report is now available to view. We recommend it highly.

David Everson

EEAN Transport Group

Allotments: Eastbourne’s Secret History

To most holidaymakers, Eastbourne is best known as the Sunshine Coast, a seaside resort where grand Victorian hotels and stout Napoleonic forts keep watch over busy shingle beaches. That’s what the tourists come to see, of course. Eastbourne has a secret; the town is home to a thriving culture of allotments dating back to the 19th century.

There are over fourteen separate allotment sites in Eastbourne

How one woman changed Eastbourne forever

In the early 1800s, poverty and hunger were endemic in Sussex. Many parishes dismissed the struggling poor as witless. However, one landowner disagreed. Mary Ann Gilbert was born into a wealthy landowning family in 1776. Despite her comfortable upbringing, Gilbert was an outspoken social reformer who created projects to help the working classes grow their own food instead of depending on relief. 

In 1830, Gilbert began redeveloping land on Beachy Head, hiring 27 paupers to remove waste and cultivate the soil. By 1835, Gilbert’s project had 235 allotment tenants, with over 400 allotment holders by 1844. Gilbert’s experiment reduced poverty in Sussex by almost half. It was an agricultural revolution that laid the groundwork for modern allotment management as we know it today.

Why are Eastbourne’s allotments so popular?

Gilbert died in 1845, but her legacy is still felt all over the town. Eastbourne Allotments & Garden Society, a non-profit organisation, has looked after the town’s fourteen allotment sites for many years. The society currently rent out over 1,200 plots, all of which are in high demand; presently, there are 500 people on a three-year waiting list for a plot.

A beautiful and green sight!
Audio Interview with Louise Elms, allotments manager
Louise Elms, allotments manager, speaks to Aaron Loose about her everyday experience running the Eastbourne allotments group. Listen to her thoughts here.

Sue Dixon, Co-Chair for the Eastbourne Green Party, says the allotments are popular because the routine makes people feel more connected to others. She explains “allotments contribute hugely to wellbeing in terms of exercise and being outdoors of course, but also relaxation and a break from the pressures of the modern world. Everyone speaks of the sense of community.”

Almost everyone on the allotments mentions a profound sense of community. Louise Elms, the allotment manager, says “one of the best things about allotments we get people from all walks of life” The society estimates their diverse membership includes over twenty different nationalities. Many tenants belong to the town’s thriving Portuguese community, and several Syrian refugees also rent out plots.

Elms speaks warmly about how the allotments became a haven for many people during 2020’s gruelling series of COVID-19 lockdowns. “It was amazing for people”, she tells me over the phone. “So many people have told us that the allotments were a lifesaver, because it was the only place they could go and speak to people. It’s great for people, physically and mentally.”

Are Allotments a form of Self-Care?

One notable example of a genuine allotment community is Gather Community Garden, a diverse group of amateur gardeners and seasoned planters who meet weekly at the Churchdale road allotment to chat. Dave Roberts, who serves as Gather’s spokesperson, views their work as a ministry of wellbeing. Gather grew from a church, but their outlook is diverse and inclusive. “It was quite important for us to create the social space that wasn’t totally utilitarian,” Roberts says. “People can join the network, relax, and even take a few potatoes. If people are coming from real anxiety of loneliness, then small group interactions are often the best way to find their way back.” 

The Gather Community Garden overs five plots and is often visited by officers working in the nearby police station

For many, the thought of looking after an allotment feels daunting. It is a big responsibility, but the workload is manageable. According to Elms, the average renter can expect to spend between 5 and 12 hours a week working a basic plot, although their workload may depend on what produce they grow. “If you’re growing a lot of fruits,” Elms says, “you probably require less time than if you’re doing vegetables.  And it’s not just vegetables you can have. You can have chickens and rabbits and bees.”

Allotments are a central pillar of Eastbourne’s rich history, as iconic as the Bandstand and Beachy Head. Working on an allotment is an opportunity to enrich not only nature, but one’s own wellbeing. If you want to know why that’s such a big deal, listen to Dave. “There’s a verse in Jeremiah”, he remarks, “where it says seek the prosperity as a place where you live. Plant gardens. Do good stuff.”

Aaron Loose

Going Electric: new app could help drivers give up petrol for good

Drivers up and down the United Kingdom can explore making the switch to an electric vehicle this World EV day with a new government-backed app. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, set out plans to roll out the app, which is named EV8 Switch, on 9 September. As the UK prepares to host the COP26 climate summit this November, the Government is working with industry leaders to provide the tools and practical advice drivers need to go electric.

A free app called EV8 Switch – backed by £2.7 million of UK Space Agency funding – launched on 13 September. EV8 Switch calculates how much money a UK driver could save by switching to an electric vehicle compared to their current petrol or diesel model. In addition, the app will also estimate the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that would be reduced if the driver changes to an electric vehicle.

Drivers can also see which electric vehicle would be most suitable for them based on their current vehicle and how switching to electric could fit in with their current lifestyle. Users of the app can also see how close their nearest charge points are, and which journeys can be completed without the need to recharge their vehicle en route.

The UK zero emission car market is growing; more models are coming onto the market and one in seven cars sold so far in 2021 were electric. Making the switch from petroleum to electric is not only an exercise in ecological carefulness. It’s also a chance to be a step ahead of the curve.

The Government is also helping drivers across the country with an extension to the £50 million government fund to install electric vehicle chargepoints. The move will see small businesses such as Beds& Breakfasts gain access to the Workplace Charging Scheme, supporting the UK tourism industry and improving access to rural areas. 

The new fund will also see those in leasehold and rented accommodation enjoy the benefits of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. The transition could create 40,000 UK jobs by 2030,encouraging people to make the switch in areas where charging provision is currently limited and challenging to secure. ​ 

To learn more and to download EV8 Switch, visit the app’s official website.

Cycling in Eastbourne during COVID-19

Emergency protected cycle lane proposals: from the railway station to DGH via King’s Drive.

Emergency protected cycle lane proposal: from the railway station to DGH via King’s Drive

King’s Drive (and Lewes Road) is one of Eastbourne’s busiest arteries, linking the town centre and seafront with several large residential areas: Upperton, Ratton, Hampden Park, Willingdon and beyond to Polegate and Hailsham. It also connects to the hospital (DGH), East Sussex College, various schools, David Lloyd sports club and retail parks.

King’s Drive runs along the edge of flood meadows, it is essentially flat and it provides the quickest, most direct North-South route. Sadly, the good news for cyclists ends there. As anyone who has attempted to ride along King’s Drive knows, the sheer volume and speed of traffic feel uncomfortable and at times it’s downright dangerous. Data from Crashmap bears this out. Not surprisingly, few people attempt to use their bicycles here and most opt for the car, even for short trips.


Bespoke Cycle Group has long argued for a separate cycleway to be constructed along the meadow to the east of St Thomas A Becket school (see below) and behind Weavers Close. It would continue to the DGH roundabout and join up with the existing cycle path alongside Cross Levels Way.

Sustrans echoed this idea in its draft recommendations (310.2) to ESCC in 2017, but signs of progress have not been detected. In the meantime, the COVID-19 pandemic has swept in, forcing local authorities around the world to wake up to the importance of cycling and walking as genuine alternatives to cars and public transport in urban areas.

It is surely the time for ESCC to construct temporary protected cycle lanes here. Bespoke propose one-way 2m wide lanes (in line with the traffic) on each side of King’s Drive and Lewes Road, extending from the DGH roundabout to the junction of Tutt’s Barn Lane for southbound cyclists and from the junction with Upper Avenue to the DGH roundabout for northbound cyclists.

Here, a cycle lane could replace the grass verge, or take up part of the road next to it.

In this section of King’s Drive, temporary bollards could be placed on the road 2m from the kerb.

The same applies here, by St Thomas A Becket school, so this dad and his daughter wouldn’t need to be on the pavement.

Southbound cyclists could turn left into Tutt’s Barn Lane, then continue along the quiet Gorringe Road.

At the junction with Lewes Road, there could be a combined pedestrian and cycle crossing to Upper Avenue – ideally to the pavement on the north side (on the right of this picture).

This pavement could be widened, or space reclaimed from the road to accommodate a two-way cycle lane:

The grassy area could be narrowed to accommodate a two-way cycle lane.

There’s plenty of space on this corner of Upper Avenue:

A new crossing for pedestrians and cycles here on Upper Avenue, opposite St Mary’s House, would enable safe passage to and from St Leonard’s Road.

The quiet St Leonard’s Road probably wouldn’t need any cycle infrastructure.

Nor would St Ann’s Road, on the left in this photo.

St Ann’s Road leads to the station car park – for access to trains, the Enterprise Centre, town centre and seafront.

Robert McGowan

Transport Group, Bespoke

The bus is here,
but not quite yet!

Recently the Department of Transport has issued its vision for transport Decarbonising Transport report, which it hopes to achieve by 2050. One of the main threads of their vision is to reduce our dependence on petrol and diesel car.

Recently the Department of Transport has issued its vision for transport Decarbonising Transport report, which it hopes to achieve by 2050. One of the main threads of their vision is to reduce our dependence on petrol and diesel car.

The burning of petrol and diesel in cars produces carbon dioxide which goes into the atmosphere and significantly contributes to climate change. The gases emitted by these vehicles also produce pollutants damaging people’s health, causing breathing problems, skin reactions and having a particularly bad effect on people with respiratory problems. 

One way of achieving a reduction in these gases is to encourage the use of electric cars. But these are expensive to buy, need a new charging infrastructure and a lot of energy, which produces more pollution.

One of the government’s aims is to reduce the number of car trips that we all make. They hope to do this by:

  • Provide frequent and reliable public transport (buses) so that we don’t have to use our cars.
  • To get us to lead healthier life styles by walking and cycling rather than driving.

But how do you get people to abandon such a convenient form of transport as the car? This will require a lot of changes in our everyday life and our mentality.  EEAN is convinced that tackling transport pollution and achieving a culture change in societal attitudes to transport is one of the crucial elements in reducing the effects of climate change.

See the summary of the Decarbonising Transport report in our Library.

David Everson

Transport Group

Cleaner air and healthier food beyond the pandemic

The COVID19 pandemic is an unintentional real-time experiment in how our economy and society can cope with and adapt to a profound shock. There are already many lessons to learn from it about how to build a more resilient and sustainable economy in the future, one that also better protects people’s health and wellbeing.

Some of the environmental effects of the pandemic have been significant, such as a cleaner, more breathable air as a result of the collapse in traffic levels and a resurgence in wildlife and nature as a result of the lockdown of the entire communities.

The COVID19 pandemic is an unintentional real-time experiment in how our economy and society can cope with and adapt to a profound shock. There are already many lessons to learn from it about how to build a more resilient and sustainable economy in the future, one that also better protects people’s health and wellbeing.

clean air eastbourne

Some of the environmental effects of the pandemic have been significant, such as a cleaner, more breathable air as a result of the collapse in traffic levels and a resurgence in wildlife and nature as a result of the lockdown of the entire communities. The citizen science air quality monitoring project led by the volunteers of Clean Air Eastbourne has already recorded a 70% drop in particulate air pollution during March 2020 compared with March of 2019, confirming that air pollution can decrease rapidly in Eastbourne if road traffic levels drop far enough and stay reduced for long enough. 

This is leading to calls from across Eastbourne, mirrored across the rest of the country, for more safe cycle lanes and better walking infrastructure now, even if only on a temporary basis, so as to ensure that the much needed modal shift to active travel  –  a shift already accepted as necessary by Eastbourne Borough Council in its draft local plan  – can be accelerated during the pandemic, and sustained after it. The UK government is responding to these calls by introducing new statutory regulations authorising those local councils responsible for local highways to introduce such cycling and walking infrastructure and providing a £2 billion fund to facilitate their construction. 

The pandemic has also highlighted many of the issues around food supply and delivery in a crisis and the difficulties involved in ensuring that everybody has all the food they need, an issue that may get more urgent over the coming year given the acute shortage of foreign labour to help bring in the summer harvests. The Climate Adaptation and Food working Groups of the EEAN, in collaboration with the Eastbourne Food Partnership, organised a joint visit, just before the pandemic, to two ecological community farms at Arlington – Aweside Farm and Fanfield Farm – which are about to start providing fresh organic sustainably produced food for local delivery.

organic vegetables

More such local farms, together with the already existing local organic farms and horticultural nurseries, will surely be needed as the large commercial farms begin to struggle and the international food supply chains start to fracture during the upcoming global recession. According to Sustain, only 1-2% of all the food we consume comes from local food chains. So bringing local food producers and suppliers into a resilient local food network to provide local people with a diverse range of fresh, healthy local food is an essential part of any strategy to create a truly sustainable local food economy in the Eastbourne area, cutting down food miles, reducing food and plastic waste, reducing overdependence on fragile international food chains, and reducing carbon emissions through the sustainable care of soils practised by organic growers.

The pandemic may be a time of great tragedy and suffering, but it is also a time in which the positive changes previously thought too difficult to introduce are now becoming possible, helping to improve health and wellbeing in the long run. The EEAN aims to promote and facilitate those changes through collaboration across all sectors of our local community.

Andrew Durling

Climate Adaptation Group, EEAN Director

A waste of roof space?

Scorching through Google Maps’ 3D satellite function, Top Gun-style, the other day, I found myself bearing down on Hampden Park.

Scorching through Google Maps’ 3D satellite function, Top Gun-style, the other day, I found myself bearing down on Hampden Park. And saw familiar out-of-town places: Sainsbury’s, Halfords, B&Q, Dunelm Mill, King’s Church and Bannatynes – those temples to last-minute DIY missions or spiritual enlightenment – in a new light.

Viewed from above, their logos and functions fade and they take on the appearance of a great herd of pale grey hangars, jostling for position in the flatlands beside Cross Levels Way. The ambition of their construction – the sheer scale of the retail parks and factories, warehouses and health clubs is impressive. But is something missing – in Britain’s sunniest town at a time when scientists tell us we’re entering a full-blown climate breakdown? Could those great expanses of metal roofing and south-facing walls be smothered in solar panels?

A 2016 report for the BRE National Solar Centre seems to think so: “There is an estimated 250,000 hectares of south-facing commercial roof space in the UK. If utilised this could provide approximately 50% of the UK’s electricity demand”.

Robert McGowan

Journalist, ECO Research Group

Guest Blog: Swishing Away

For a number of reasons I very rarely buy new clothes – as my mortified teens would testify – preferring to rummage around charity shops but also because I’m quite satisfied with my wardrobe collection…

Knowledge is Power

When I was invited to guest blog, I took a long look at the initiatives the Eastbourne community has already started to get off the ground as part of the town’s ambitious bid to become carbon neutral by 2030. The phrase which jumped out at me straight away was, “knowledge is power”.

Photo by Gervyn Louis on Unsplash

It’s for this exact reason that I decided I had a duty to inform as many people as possible about the impact fast fashion is having on our planet.  This is, of course, a massive challenge in today’s world, where social media plays a huge part with its influencer generation, moulding and shaping our impressionable youth.

What About the Teens?

However, there is also an alternative influencer, who at the tender age of just 17, has already drummed up an army of supporters, encouraging them to make a stand by skipping school to protest that not enough is being done by world governments to deal with the severity of climate change.  Never has the world needed Greta Thunberg more than right now.

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

As the mother of three teenagers, I can find myself torn between their need to make choices independently and my desire to educate them about their online purchases, which often come across from Asia before being delivered directly to our door via courier.  Often when they get together with friends, the conversation centres around the photo session they are going to have and which different outfits and hairstyles they will be adopting, with what accessories. 

This is not dissimilar to my teenage years with a Polaroid camera after a trip to Tammy Girl in Bradford with friends, however, the easily affordable cost of fashion for our teenagers today, along with the speed in which new outfits can arrive, to then be tossed aside after the photo session and forgotten about, is costing our planet dearly.

So What to Do?

The answer is clear; everything we possibly can collectively and as individuals to put pressure on decision-makers to reverse these damaging trends and ensure that our children are being told about the effects these fast fashion purchases are having on the environment.

Photo by Adrienne Leonard on Unsplash

For a number of reasons I very rarely buy new clothes – as my mortified teens would testify – preferring to rummage around charity shops but also because I’m quite satisfied with my wardrobe collection, which really does need updating but I’m the sort of person who is happy with what she likes, so asking me to fast from fashion is not a huge undertaking.  I am fully aware though, that this message may not resonate well with those who love to buy new clothes.

This is where “knowledge is power” and education comes into the conversation. Can we do more to convince shopaholics that there are other ways to release endorphins; that trying on outfits and deciding what we look good in can be done in a manner which is sympathetic to our environmental challenges, that helps to get the message across that we should carefully consider every single purchase we make; do we really need the item we are buying and if so, how long will it last us, how has it been made and what are the conditions of those who have contributed to its manufacture. 

Swish Away the Winter Blues

Here comes Swish – not a new phenomenon but the idea behind it, in my opinion, should never go out of fashion.  Swish is the name for an event or party which is held for people to exchange each other’s clothes, rather than going out and buying new.  The basic rules are that you take along, let’s say, 5 items, which means you can also take the same number of garments away with you.  The clothes should be in good order, clean and have plenty of wear left.  

Photo by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

I decided to put the feelers out about holding this event, largely as an initiative for Spring Clearing Week which is organised by a national body called, APDO (The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers), of which I am a member, due to my role as a professional organiser in Eastbourne.  Having posted this on various local Facebook pages I realised Swishing had been done before in Eastbourne and people were offering me hints and tips on the best way to hold it.  This gave me a huge feeling of hope, particularly when I was approached by a member of the Eastbourne ECO Action Network to potentially consider joining the movement.  I grabbed it with both hands, attending the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 event and chatting with stallholders about the amazing stuff they’re doing for our wonderful town.  I felt empowered. 

Now in Eastbourne

The aim moving forward is to hold four Swish events in Eastbourne each year, which will mirror the change in seasons, the first being towards the end of March.  This will be useful to those who wish to consider decluttering their wardrobes as the weather changes, bringing items to Swish events for others to consider reusing.  Like all things which need to catch on, changing habits is the key reason for holding this event four times per year.  The more we get the message out there; the more informative our message is about the difference we can make, the more people will take notice and realise that the power of knowledge really can change lives and ultimately secure our planet for a much longer future.

Eastbourne Swish Event

21 March

If you would like to be involved in this event or would like more information you can email to sortingoutspacesos@gmail.com.

Jules Anderson

Professional Declutterer