Creating a more sustainable community

11 steps your town and county can take to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly without breaking the budget. 

Can we achieve a green community?

An ecologically and environmentally friendly space for nature and people to share harmoniously. While that is a grand challenge, we have a few ideas for any town, council, community or county to get a good start in moving towards a green future, to achieve the accolade of being carbon neutral or better.

Our world is in great need, we only need to watch a David Attenborough documentary to know just how bad that need is, or other great documentary series such as Down to Earth with Zac Efron and Darin Olien.

Grab a cuppa, take a seat and hopefully, find some inspiration. 

1. Community litter picks, recycling where possible.
As we enter 2021, the year we hope to see the end of lockdowns and the pandemic we’ll all be in need of a great social but safe we to be together again. Although even in a time of stricter restrictions litter picks are something that can still take place while upholding the regulations and guidelines. 
 
You may be thinking, what a bore, how monotonous and why on Earth should I be picking up other’s rubbish? However, you may be thinking, what an intrinsically rewarding activity. 
 
Whatever your thoughts may be, going on a litter pick is a truly rewarding activity, whether on your own or as a group and there is next to go cost; just a bag for recycling, another for rubbish, a litter picker and gloves. 
Now of course, this is not something that has to be part of a community project, just on your own there is the same reward and same results, although it is always better to work together and given our year of isolation the idea of being together once again is certainly the icing on the cake. 
 
Now matter how often, once a week, a month or even just as an annual tradition, where the benefits are cleaner streets, rubbish recycled, intrinsic rewards then it certainly becomes worth it. 
2. Open lawn spaces created into meadows
As community spaces few things can bring such sustainable and ecological benefits for such little cost. While there is an initial installation cost to prepare the ground and sow the seed, once that is done the ongoing maintenance drops from tens of mows per annum to just one annual cut, drastically reducing costs for councils and giving them grounds staff the opportunity to focus on other areas without seeing standards and quality drop. Furthermore, despite being a ‘wild’ meadow, the areas can be kept managed and uniform by mowing the edges to give sharp contour, creating a simple perimeter or as a complex shape to the meadow. 
 
Visually, how do you feel the look of a mowed field looks compared to a meadow rich with wild blooms? Given the reduced maintenance as well, suddenly the idea is quite appealing. 
Large open spaces, while bring great benefits to the community by allowing space for recreational activities not all open spaces can facilitate such activities and in that circumstance is it a much more efficient way to growing wild flowers to prohibit balls games instead of a demanding sign?
 
Large open spaces that can facilitate such activities shouldn’t be discouraged, a world that welcomes ball games, kite flying and other spacious activities is much healthier, and for spaces that can allow that we have an idea there to still increase the ecological balance of them without losing the benefits to the space or increasing the maintenance cost.
3. Boundary fields created into meadows
A boundary meadow; for fields used recreationally the edges will require strimming or more often than not have to be left to grow wild in response to limited budgets. In those spaces wild flowers can be encouraged to grow to take the space of unwanted growth and boost the visual impact of the area, while giving homes to small insects in the area. 
 
For maintenance it means those areas will not require strimming and do not overgrow wildly in disarray, but instead bloom vivaciously. 
Furthermore, the use of wild flowers can even be used to mark out boundaries of field areas and create a natural divide, say between pitches, again reducing maintenance and other associated costs by reducing the amount of line marking required. 
4. Secluded spaces/neglected overgrown areas converted into wildlife sanctuaries.
How many spaces do you know of in your local town that have been left, neglected and overgrown beyond control? In the work we do for local councils, a high percentage of it is clearing spaces exactly like this back to a manageable standard, but unfortunately once cleared, they overgrow within the year or two and require another large clearance project to get on top of them.
 
Our encouragement is to re-established the area once cleared as a wildlife sanctuary, much like it would be if left, but created to be more suitable for nature while becoming visually more pleasant and even interactive if the opportunity is there for the community. Once cleared the canvas is blank to work with the surroundings to establish a safe haven for the animals that could love there; bee/bug hotels, bird boxes, baths, wild flowers, plants and shrubs, piles of old log and leaves formed for natural habitats. Even with a limited budget a great space can be created for nature, after all, everything they need is found naturally in nature.
 
Creating a wildlife sanctuary can even reduce the maintenance and rate of re-growth to the unwanted such as brambles and nettles.
5. Community mulching plan.
Community mulching can either be a resource solely for the council maintenance team or for the community as a whole, it just requires more management. It’s just the process of keeping the organic green waste in a circular cycle within the space it’s taken from.
 
Garden waste collected and taken to a mulching site. While much garden waste is collected and transported away, a mulching plan allows a percentage to stay, reducing the amount transported allowing it to instead be re-purposed across the community, spread in the dormant times to give a nutritional boost to the plants and shrubs, help retain moisture in the drier months and reduce the amount of weeds that grow, to learn more about mulching you can read our article on the benefits of mulching. 
6. Tree planting for oxygen, sound and shade
Across the entire globe there is exacerbating pressures to increase the amount of trees we plant and greatly reduce the vast quantities that are cut down every year, various tree planting campaigns have developed across various communities, charities and other groups, giving educational opportunities to all, the satisfaction of planting a living organism and being part of a positive change. 
 
Tree planting is something that can be a council project, a school campaign or even just as a family or individual in your own garden. 
 
Once again, one of the great benefits to nature is that it is something that can be tailored to any budget, if you have the money and like the idea of investing greatly you can purchase larger, established trees, or alternatively do not as no cost by taking cuttings from already existing trees. By being part of a planting project you are giving more oxygen to earth and taking away toxic carbon. 
 
Furthermore, this is another prime opportunity to begin socialising again at a safe distance, a chance to see friends and family and be able to do something together with minimal risk. 
7. Community Nursery for storing and growing plants/trees
A step further to our 6th idea, you can even take the project idea and establish a dedicated nursery space for growing saplings to be planted throughout the community. 
The beauty is the space can be achieved with minimal investment:
  • Doesn’t need to be big so can squeeze into suitable area
  • Saplings can be grown from cuttings of existing trees, keeping an extremely low cost. 
  • Requisite materials such as pots and hose pipe can be acquired for free throughout the community through donations. 
  • An effective irrigation system can be achieved by collecting rain water (we certainly have enough in the UK) and leading it through a leaky hosepipe system.
  • The area can be established with minimal materials and built to require little maintenance. 
  • Volunteers or paid staff to look after the area, again based from the available budget
  • Vertically integrate the process of tree planting in the community
So the benefits can quickly add up, the greatest challenge you may find is locating your space, but as a community putting minds together the solutions can soon be identified. 
8. Community vegetable patches.
As we mentioned in our introduction, the ideas on our list begin low cost and easy, but gradually become more hands on and expensive as the list progresses, number 8 in our list is where a project can become much more hands on and require skilled as well as knowledgable participants.
 
While the concept of a community vegetable patch can be constructed extremely cost effectively, especially when utilising the efforts of donations there will still remain a lot of maintenance and upkeep, however, when the result is free food for the community the idea seems to be low cost does it not? That being said, with guidance and a committed team the hard work reduces as it becomes second nature, but most importantly, a passion. 
 
There are many people all throughout your community that have the time available to come together and learn, see who you can bring on board. 
9. Community charging point facilities.
The world is currently experiencing one of the greatest metamorphosis since the internet, vehicles are becoming electric. 
With this idea we now move towards our big investments ideas to really push your community towards pioneering sustainability and becoming a community that works with the environment.
 
Charging points you have no doubt seen popping up all over, and as popularity grows for EV’s they will increase exponentially, but while the count is relatively low the opportunity is there for towns and county’s to be a lead is electrifying their community space, and there are numerous companies to collaborate with to achieve such a goal. 
How long will it be until every car park in your town has a charging facility? 
 
While moving to EV’s is far more environmentally friendly, the key is exactly how that energy is provided…
10. Solar stations
Clean, renewable energy.
 
While there are multiple methods to achieving sustainable energy we have decided to concentrate on a method that can introduced subtly and without requiring extra space, solar panels can be fitted to rooftops of many types. 
With the technological advancements towards clean energy, the rate at which the investment to go green can pay itself off is increasing, in time clean energy will be able to make councils money to finance further improvements.
 
With increasing demand for EV the charging points need to keep up their numbers, together EV’s and charging points can word in hand to offer subtle little benefits to encourage drivers to make the change; charging points placed in ideal parking spots, free charging made available or reduced parking fees, and perhaps fines to those that park in a space with an ICE vehicle could help find further projects… 
 
To take on board all 10 of these ideas could put a town or county in the flagship position to become possibly the most sustainable, clean, environmentally and ecologically friendly. 
11. Green walls/Green benches
For areas that have limited green space green walls and other green furniture offer a brilliant way to bring us closer to nature and increase local bio diversity.
 
Green installations increase oxygen levels and reduce carbon in the air, a particularly splendid benefit for heavily polluted areas in cities. Furthermore, green installations require little maintenance when compared to a traditional garden space, green walls are fitted with their own irrigation, requiring feeding and perhaps re-planting in places from time to time.
 
More than anything, they are simply beautiful. Captivating the eye and bringing a burst of positivity and delight into the atmosphere. 
Please do get in touch if you have any further questions or to share your stories.

enquiries@bloomfieldss.co.uk

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