Research shows that people who visit green spaces are more likely to behave in eco-friendly ways – but this is not always the case. Recently at a community litter pick, volunteers were clearing waste that had been fly-tipped from houses backing on to Epping Forest. Alison Baker, a local resident who co-ordinates these regular events, said: “Among the rubbish were kitchen units, a sink and a toilet. We’re so fortunate to have this beautiful forest on our doorstep and it's so sad to see it ruined by a few thoughtless individuals.”
It’s not just adults that need educating. Suntrap Forest Centre regularly takes school children out into local woodland. Recently, a child dropped a plastic wrapper and, when asked to pick it up, they explained that leaving it in the forest meant it wouldn’t end up in the sea killing the fish. Pupils are showing confusion on ways to help address climate change and they’re increasingly concerned for the future of the planet.
Experts have warned parents against “terrifying” their youngsters with talk of climate catastrophe. Apocalyptic forecasts by activists such as Greta Thunberg are being relayed by parents in terms that are not “age appropriate”. This is triggering mental health problems, leading to a rising number of children being treated for “eco anxiety”. The Climate Psychology Alliance recommends discussing the issues responsibly to children, without scaring them, and explaining how to take practical steps to make a difference, such as by cutting down on non-recyclable waste and buying locally grown food.
Based in Highams Park and covering Waltham Forest, a new milkman-style delivery service called ‘Fill in Good’ is providing local people with environmentally-friendly cleaning and personal hygiene products. You can order online and your products are left outside of your home in provided glass bottles. Items are delivered by using bikes, electric bicycles or on foot. One way to reduce leftover food is ordering from ‘Oddbox’. They deliver surplus fruit and vegetables that would have been unused.
Alternatively, Chingford workers' co-operative OrganicLea provide organically-grown produce, dropped off at pick up points across the borough. If you want to find out more, The Common Room in Leyton has launched ‘Net Zero Club’, with the aim to create a sustainable community and provide advice on ways to lower our carbon footprint.