Waste not, want not - it’s St Albans Sustainability Week

Sustainable St Albans Week

Sustainable St Albans Week - Credit: Archant

November 21-28 is the first Sustainable St Albans Week, a community-wide event looking at ways of reducing domestic and commercial waste. Herts Advertiser food and drink writer Becky Alexander takes a look at what’s coming up.

Earthworks Summer Fair 2014

Earthworks Summer Fair 2014 - Credit: Archant

Did you watch Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s latest TV show about how much food we waste in the UK? It sounds like a really dull thing to watch, but it was fascinating and shocking. When we have over 500 food banks in the UK, including four in our local area, the UK is throwing away 15 million tonnes of food every year. How wrong is that?

It is easy to blame the supermarkets for rejecting huge piles of ‘wonky’ veg, but, in fact, most food waste comes from homes. You might be shocked to hear (I was) that the average family throws away over #500 food every year; imagine what you could do with that money.

One group of locals has taken matters into their own hands, and have organised the first Sustainable St Albans Week from November 21-28, with the support of over 100 businesses, schools and groups.

I am really impressed by the amount of events they have organised, including a talk by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett (November 24 7.30pm Trinity United Reformed Church). The free book swap for children and the fashion workshops should be good too. I want to focus on food, and there is lots going on.

The week starts on the Saturday with a Bring and Share vegetarian supper at St Paul’s Church, Hatfield Road, St Albans, that everyone is welcome to, including families. Reserve tickets at www.stalbansfoe.org which includes a glass of local organic apple juice and dessert.

If you live near the Friends Meeting House on Upper Lattimore Road you might like to pop in for coffee and buy home-produced and recycled goods at their sale on the Sunday November 22 (12.30-1.30pm).

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If you haven’t yet discovered FoodSmiles at Hammonds End Farm, Harpenden, they are holding an open day on Sunday from 1– 4pm. Just drop in to see what they do, and ask your own home-growing questions. Refreshments will be available and it is a lovely location to spend time in.

Gardeners might also like to go along to St Albans Community Garden, Hixberry Lane on Saturday November 28 for a free workshop on how to prune your fruit trees (1.30-3pm). I know lots of people with huge inherited fruit trees in their gardens; why not go along and find out what to do with them?

Also on November 28 the most beautiful cinema in the country (I think that’s official) The Odyssey screens the feature-length film Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret at 10.45am, about “the most destructive industry facing the planet today”. Buy tickets from the cinema directly.

Have you discovered the sub-aqua club on Cottonmill Lane yet? This fab outdoor pool is another St Albans gem, but it is open to members only. You can check it out if you go to the screening on November 21 of The End of the Line about the world fish situation (7.30pm). Contact social@sasac.co.uk to book a place.

Also on Saturday 28 (10-11am) you can trade your homegrown/homemade produce at Trading Post @The Foragers.

This friendly food swap group has been running for a couple of years now and it is a fab way to share what you grow with others, and take home goodies in return. Just turn up with your produce and they will talk you through what you need to do. I went last year with lemony olives and returned with corn bread and preserves; I really recommend it for anyone with lots of spare fruit and veggies and keen bakers especially.

If you take your own bag any time during the Sustainability Week to The Beer Shop on London Road, you will get 10 per cent off any bottled beers you buy – how easy is that?

Charlie’s Coffee & Company has always been a sustainable business and all week you can pop in and ask what she does to make it so. You can also get a discount on reusable cups, which, if you are regular at Charlie’s coffee van or shop, are a great idea. Did you know that coffee grounds are brilliant for the garden? If you throw yours away, why not save a pot full to dig into the garden? Your plants will love you for it.

Aylett Nurseries generate a lot of coffee grounds and all week you can collect them to take home for your own garden. While you are there you can hand in your collection of plastic plant pots for reuse.

On Thursday November 26 (7-10pm), The Green Kitchen on Hatfield Road is hosting an autumn-themed bistro evening with delicious plant-based food, using as many organic and UK-sourced ingredients as possible. To book call 01727 753661. The events here usually sell out so do book ahead.

One of my favourite places to eat locally is The Courtyard Café in Hatfield Road, and throughout Sustainability Week the menu will include homegrown vegetables and homemade jam from Transition St Albans members. Some of the veggies and herbs come from the patch in front of the cafe too; you can’t get more local than that!

Other highlights of the week:

Don’t miss out on some of the other activities taking place throughout St Albans Sustainability Week.

On Sunday November 22 there will be guided walks at Tyttenhanger Lakes by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and the Sandridge Family Walk organised by Sandridge Parish Council.

Wednesday November 25 is very busy with events in the morning and afternoon. During the day members of the public are invited to explore an ancient Iron Age Fort in Redbourn organised by Aubrey Park Hotel and Redbourn Village Museum.

Tales of Willow is an interactive event about the past, present and future uses of willow at Rothamsted Research from 1-4pm

Harpenden and St Albans Youth Councils are organising a Green Fashion Event and Green Careers Fair from 6-8pm at the Council Chambers.

There is also a talk and discussion from 7.30-9.30pm on how to create a local sustainable local economy organised by the St Albans Sustainable Economy Group.

Schools are also busy arranging events for the week with Aboyne Lodge School pupils planning and painting seven murals each depicting an area of sustainability.

Abbey Primary School is holding a ‘Save a Tree Go Paper-Free’ Day across the whole school, Redbourn Infant and Nursery School is focusing on water and wildlife and St Albans Girls School ECO Council is holding an event on reducing, reusing and recycling.

For a full list of events taking place click here.