'Reduce your food waste and shop local', says St Albans #SustFest

CDA Community Garden event

CDA Community Garden event - Credit: Sustfest

What we eat and how we consume it can play a huge role in saving the planet, this year's St Albans Sustainability Festival has heard.

The district-wide event has thrown the issue of food waste into the spotlight over the past week, with various events organised by Herts Waste Aware to encourage residents to cut down on the amount of food they throw away.

This included an online event by local food writer and Herts Advertiser columnist Becky Alexander offering practical tips for low waste lunches: 'We had an enjoyable lunch break talking about how to love our leftovers, cut waste, eat more veggie and vegan food and buy less single-use packaging.' 

Helena Jackson from the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership said: “The Sustainability Festival has been a wonderful opportunity to engage residents in discussions around waste issues. At Waste Aware we are trying to make it easier to waste less and recycle more. Here in Herts our recycling rates are already good but there is always more we can do.

"Encouraging people to further reduce food waste is a current focus following an analysis of what’s in our bins showed over a third is food waste – with a whopping 23 per cent of our bins containing food that could have been eaten!” 

Festival volunteer Caroline Penn added: “Reducing food waste is an easy winner when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint and is one of the steps that residents can take with the Count Us In actions we promote in the festival programme.

Rothamsted’s painted pebbles on sustainability.

Rothamsted’s painted pebbles on sustainability. - Credit: Sustfest

"Plan what you buy, cook what you need, and use up leftovers – it’s easy!  Also shopping locally reduces food miles completely eliminating CO2 used in transportation.

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"Lastly, we know that plant-based eating is one of the biggest impacts you can make to reduce your carbon emissions and we are thrilled that the festival is supported by Paul McCartney’s ‘Meat-Free Mondays’ initiative.” 

Further festival events on food include another session from Herts Waste Aware with local young chefs cooking from the “Love Your Leftovers’ cookbook on Thursday June 3. For the duration of the festival there is al fresco cooking from the Cobbled Kitchen and an online video from Becky Alexander on vegan and vegetarian lunches.

Musicians at Change the World Through Music event with organiser Richard Lafford centre on guitar.

Musicians at Change the World Through Music event with organiser Richard Lafford centre on guitar. - Credit: Sustfest

Carpenters Farm Shop is offering10% discount on home grown produce and the Refill Pantry will be providing a free zero waste gift with any purchase over £15. 

The festival continues with varied events including a talk from environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt on Thursday June 3, and a presentation on The Remarkable Trees of St Albans.   

On Friday there is a talk on Plastic Free Periods, or residents can watch the optimistic film 2040 at St Paul's Church or on Saturday residents can get outdoors with a friendly walk around Heartwood Forest with St Albans Friends of the Earth.   

Musician at Change the World Through Music event.

Musician at Change the World Through Music event. - Credit: Sustfest

Saturday sees an online talk entitled ‘Local to Global’ with Farhat Zia and Rushna Mia from Herts Asian Women’s Association on environmental challenges in Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

Farhat said: “This is the start of a long-term project in Baffa, Pakistan. We have already planted trees in alignment with Pakistan's 10 billion tree plan, one of the largest tree planting programmes in the world.

"We are also showing the film ‘Plastic Oceans in local schools and will engage the local community in litter picks to continue to raise the issue of plastic pollution.”

Greenwood United Reform Church ‘Adopt a Plant’ Day

Greenwood United Reform Church ‘Adopt a Plant’ Day - Credit: Sustfest

Many festival events have been well attended with 120 people at “Change the World Through Music” put on by Extinction Rebellion St Albans in aid of Greenpeace, and a successful online talk called “100 Seconds to Midnight”.

Outdoor events included a talk on bees and open day at the CDA Community Garden, cycle rides, Rothamsted Science Trail with pebble painting, and an Adopt a Plant Day at URC Greenwood Church. 

CDA Community Garden event with talk on bees

CDA Community Garden event with talk on bees. Pictured is Heidi Mansell from Wilder St Albans showing children the pond area. - Credit: Sustfest

The final festival day on Sunday June 6 includes a Harpenden litter pick, and a display about the plans for the new Sopwell community hub with a focus on its environmental aspects.  Birds and Bees is a live walk-in lunchtime concert St Albans Cathedral and St Albans hosts another sustainable market with over 60 eco-business stalls and vegan street food.