ABINGDON CARBON CUTTERS
Biodiversity, Food, Food Waste, Waste, Energy, Community
We have been a Community Action Group since 2008, working in and around Abingdon to help reduce the carbon footprint of Abingdon in response to climate change, promote a sustainable and resilient lifestyle for our town as fossil fuel stocks decline, and promote Abingdon as a Transition town.
We meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm, at present on Zoom, but otherwise usually at St Ethelwold’s House (see address), when we have speakers, a film or a practical workshop.
We created two ‘Bee Beds’ with annual & perennial flowers in Abbey Meadow, with the consent of Vale Of White Horse District Council, and now also run three “Edible Abingdon” vegetable beds which demonstrate what can be grown in a small plot and encourage passers-by to pick their own. One of these Edible Abingdon projects is to grow vegetables, salad and herbs in the centre of town in recycling boxes outside a care home, Old Station House. With the help of Abingdon Naturalists and the Green Gym we have created a glorious Wild Flower Maze on Abbey Meadow.
Our Trees group has been busy: in 2020 we planted 520 trees, and 1,500 bulbs.
We promote healthy eating & home cooking using local & seasonal ingredients. We hire out apple juicing / pasteurising equipment to local schools & the community, and run drop-in juicing sessions in the Community Shop for two weeks in the Autumn. We have a table at St Ethelwold’s, where people leave garden produce etc, “for sale” for a donation of £1. In 2020 the proceeds of £619 went to Christchurch Food Bank:
Before Covid restrictions, our Food Group facilitated weekly cooking sessions at Carousel Family Centre for parents & children for several years, producing lunch from ingredients from the Food Bank, sharing ideas & skills, and experimenting to put together tasty meals from scratch using limited, ‘left over’ ingredients. This project gave local people ideas on how to save money on their food and reduce waste, and developed relationships between local people
At Caldecott Primary School, we have worked with the school & the local community, with financial support from a variety of local organisations, to produce “Caldecott Meadow”, a natural learning environment with an orchard, a wildflower meadow, a native hedge, a hazel spiral and a birch coppice. The children make “bug hotels” and enjoy “forest school”. At one time we had a growing project with Larkmead School in which priorities were decided by the children. Developing gardening skills; growing vegetables; extending a gardening project – becoming part of the curriculum for some pupils. This has not been possible during Covid but we hope it will restart.
We have strong links with Abingdon Town Council, which has committed to ‘reduce carbon emissions & ‘aim to be Carbon Neutral by 2030 by following a programme of energy reduction, carbon offsetting within our town and using renewable energy’.
A sub-group, Abingdon Cuts Plastic, was formed in 2018; it is affiliated to the national marine charity “Surfers Against Sewage” (SAS), who granted the town the status of “Plastic-Free Community” in 2019. To gain this status, we had to meet 5 objectives, which include gaining the support of the Town Council, recruiting businesses as “Plastic-Free Champions”(we now have 16), and schools and other community groups as Allies, of which we now have over 25. We are building on this progress, in order to retain our status. Our aim is to increase local awareness of the harmful effects of plastic pollution on our eco-systems, and to encourage people to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”. We have held school competitions, river clean-ups, and a “Mass Unwrap” event outside Tesco’s. With SAS, we put pressure on businesses and Government to end the over production of single-use plastic and packaging, and to find better, more sustainable ways of dealing with plastic waste.
Until lockdown, Carbon Cutters ran a Repair café at Christchurch once every 2 months. This proved very successful, with volunteers mending small electrical items, bikes, toys and clothes.
In 2020, some Carbon Cutters formed “Abingdon Liveable Streets” with representatives from the Town Council, and local cycling and walking groups. The aim is to reduce traffic, increasing safety and reducing harmful emissions. This group meets monthly: we lobby for local routes to be improved, so that more people will be encouraged to walk or cycle to school, and active travel will be easier for all, including wheelchair and scooter users. We collaborated on a route map, with recommendations for improvements, which has been received positively by Oxfordshire County Council. We hope this will be integrated into our Neighbourhood Plan, and also form the basis for an LCWIP (Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan)
We support the Cosy Homes initiative, which carries out assessments of the energy lost through people’s homes, and makes recommendations for retrofitting measures for more efficient insulation and heating.