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Read our local guide to green shopping this Christmas!

We’ve set out to showcase our best local independent businesses in the district that are helping to get us closer to our carbon neutral goal for West Berkshire. We asked local businesses to apply to be featured in the magazine to help show shoppers what’s on offer locally. In the magazine you’ll find a fantastic selection of shops on your doorstep and online, for all your festive needs including homeware, crafts, clothes, food and more. Let’s support our local green businesses this Christmas!


Highlights from COP26

COP26 took place earlier this month in Glasgow with world leaders coming together to discuss global action. Some of the highlights include:

  • 110 world leaders have promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 with almost £14bn pledged to achieve this. Read more here.
  • More than 40 world leaders agreed a global plan to fast track the uptake of clean technology, for sectors including agriculture, electricity, and road transport. Read more here
  • By 2023, most big UK firms and financial institutions will be forced to show how they intend to hit net-zero targets. Read more here
  • The Global Methane Pledge was launched, aimed at reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 (compared to 2020 levels). Read more here
  • More than 40 countries have pledged to move away from coal by 2050, as coal is the biggest single contributor to climate change. Read more here

Our actions in West Berkshire align with the work so far at COP26, from investing in tree planting for the district, to plans for a solar farm near Grazeley. You can read our Environment Strategy here


How to improve your energy efficiency this winter

COP26 may have finished as an event but the outcomes from the conference are providing food for thought for us all.

Improving your home energy efficiency is great for the environment and can also help you save money. We’ve put together some helpful guidance on actions you can take, from small changes such as LED lights to bigger long-term improvements such as solar panels.

You can see your home’s energy efficiency rating and available grants online.


Small changes you can make in your home

Did you know that there are lots of simple swaps you can make at home to help our beautiful planet? Every little effort helps to fight climate change and reach carbon neutrality.

We have put together a poster that demonstrates some affordable ways to change your behaviour, which will benefit both the environment and your wallet. This is just a small selection of helpful hints and tips but have you got any that you want to shout about and share with your neighbours? Tell us about it on our social media channels by showcasing your small change for a greener West Berkshire – don’t forget to tag us in!


Sue’s Environment Blog

We’ve started a new environmental blog! Join Sue Halliwell, our Executive Director for Place, as she writes about her journey to becoming a net zero family.

Along with stories from other West Berkshire Council colleagues, we hope to write about the reality of going green and show how residents can join us on our way to becoming a carbon neutral district.


Let’s Turn Black Friday Green!

A recent report from the University of Leeds has found that “up to 80% of items (and any plastic packaging they are wrapped in) will end up either in landfill, incineration or, at best, low quality recycling, often after a very short life.”

Before you buy something new, why not consider another option first: 

Toys: Lots of toys are made of hard plastics which are not commonly recycled, so they can pose problems for the environment, often with a lot of packaging too. Instead of buying new toys, give West Berkshire Toy Library a try. You can hire all sorts of toys by browsing the catalogue online, reserving your toys and then collect!

Clothes: Greenhouse gas emissions from the textile industry are more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined! If you’ve got lots of clothes, shoes or accessories you no longer wear, why not donate to a local charity shop or  have a covid-safe swishing night with some friends?

Books/magazines: Old books are difficult to recycle due to the glue used to bind them together. Instead of buying, why not check out your local library? Or you can always support your local charity shop and buy second hand!

Electrical items: Electrical waste is a growing problem as people frequently replace their gadgets. The UK disposes of approx. 2 million tonnes of electrical waste each year which contains heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Make sure to dispose of your gadgets responsibly and consider replacing them less often.

Before you buy anything new, why not check out Freecycle to see if there’s the item you need second hand for free? Or if you need a tool for a DIY job, perhaps you could borrow one from a friend or neighbour?

If you do go shopping, try and keep it local to reduce your carbon footprint and support local businesses. Read our Shop Local, Shop Green magazine to find local sustainable businesses here.


Ultra-low emission taxi trial

Our Officers, working alongside the Public Protection Partnership and Energy Saving Trust, took part in a trial of ultra-low emission vehicles last week with the local taxi trade.

The project is part of our Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Strategy, of which one of the actions is to engage with the local taxi trade to better understand trade specific barriers and limitations in switching to ultra-low emission vehicles and raise awareness about the solutions and technologies that are out there.

There has already been an online survey with the taxi trade to gather information that can help with decision making and planning. The event last week was a follow up to the survey, involving an online presentation on ultra-low emission vehicles by the Energy Saving Trust and giving taxi drivers the opportunity to ask questions of experts in sustainable travel / Ultra-low Emission Vehicles. Then in the afternoon there was the demo, giving taxi drivers the opportunity to test drive electric vehicles for themselves.


West Berkshire Lottery – a brilliant fundraising opportunity for environmental organisations

Free fundraising is available for West Berkshire environmental groups through the West Berkshire Lottery. 

Are you a member of a good cause and are looking to raise funding? Maybe an environmental group, climate action organisation or not for profit community planting group? Find out how West Berkshire Lottery is raising money for good causes in the local community. There are a few T&C’s (such as having a bank account, a constitution and the group’s work must be in West Berkshire). Applying to join has no set up costs or administration fees to pay.


Don’t get caught out – flooding can happen to you

It’s Flood Action Week – and the Environment Agency have issued advice about what to do if you live in an area at risk of flooding.

Recent polling suggests nearly two in three households at risk from flooding do not believe their homes could flood. But just because flooding hasn’t happened to you in the past, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future.

In England there are over five million properties at risk of flooding. The research shows that people who haven’t taken action to prepare for flooding are in the clear minority (30%), but this still means that as many as 1.5 million households who are at risk are yet to prepare. With climate change already causing more frequent, intense flooding and sea level rise, we all need to know what to do, should the worst happen.


YoungPlanet: easy toy-swapping to reduce waste

We’ve been speaking with the founders of YoungPlanet, a local family who created their own app for parents to swap much-loved toys and items rather than throwing them away.

After a trip to a yard sale, followed by conversations, YoungPlanet was born and currently has 80,000 users. The app has helped over 20,000 items from being sent to landfills, all the while bringing joy to others. The growing community of users are a testament to how well YoungPlanet is doing. In Hackney, the first borough they launched in, parents are never more than 50 yards from someone who has used the app in the last 30 days.

We asked them for their tips on how we can all change our habits, this is what they had to say:

  • Reduce the amount of ‘new’ things you buy. Before purchasing an item, you should consider whether you can get it second-hand from charity shops or online markets.
  • Similarly when looking to throw item away, ask around to see whether friends or family would like that item for free or list it on a marketplace.

Small gestures like the above can really help reduce your carbon footprint.


Update from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT):

West Berkshire Wild Verges Update

The Wild Verges project has been moving along steadily, even as Autumn progresses toward Winter. Although the verges are looking quite bare now, there’s much to look forward to next year.

So far this year, 10kg of meadow seed has been distributed amongst Parish Councils and local groups, very kindly subsidised by the investors of West Berkshire Council’s Community Municipal Investment. This is enough to seed up to 2,500m2 of new meadows on both verges and village greenspaces.

Over 100km of verge has already been surveyed this year with many sections of verge across West Berkshire containing flowering plants indicative of the habitats we’d like to encourage across the rural landscape. Namely, those of low fertility (more wildflowers), shorter and less vigorous vegetation (less maintenance), and a high coverage of flowering herbs (better for wildlife). The map below shows the surveying progress we’ve made so far in red, and the rest of the rural verge network we have left to survey in grey!

Surveying will continue next year from May through to the end of September. We’re always in need of more surveyors to look for flowers on verges, so please email our volunteering team at volunteering@bbowt.org.uk and mention the Wild Verges Project if you’d like to sign up; or contact the Project Officer, Simon Claybourn, at simon_c@bbowt.org.uk if you’d like more information or have any questions about the project.

We also have a webpage with more details of the project that can be found here


Have you ever thought about joining your local Women’s Institute?

Berkshire WI have a dedicated Climate Crisis Group which you can get involved in. Take a look at their Facebook page to see how you can get involved here

The WI is a social group for women with 79 different groups over Berkshire. Find your local group, along with more information, on their website here. They meet once a month, some WI’s meet in the afternoon, some in the evening. The WI is non-religious, non-partisan and non party-political.  If you identify as a woman you are welcome to join. All ages welcome 18+ .


After-school bike sessions coming soon!

Want to have FUN?  A new and exciting after-school bike session is coming to your school January – March 2022! Race to get your space, only 8 rider places per session. Sessions cost £10 and are 45 mins. Bike and cycle helmet loans are included. 

Let your school office know you are interested and book us in!


And finally….

  • For information on waste services, as well as useful tips for recycling and reducing waste over Christmas, subscribe to the Waste Newsletter here
  • You can also keep up to date on waste information by following our dedicated Facebook page here
  • Our latest #AskLynne is available to watch back on our YouTube channel. Council Leader Lynne Doherty was joined by Cllr Steve Adagh-Walter, Executive Member for Environment, to update you on our environmental work and to answer your questions.

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