Posted on 22 April 2016
National Awareness Days help to bring attention to important issues and more importantly can inspire people to wonder ‘how can I help?’.
For many environmental issues that we face, a large part of the solution can be found at a local, grassroots level by giving communities the skills, expertise and help to take back control and make decisions about their local area at a local level.
So if you are feeling inspired by the National Earth Day goings-on, read the below five tip-top ways you can give back to your local community and get back to nature...
1. Grow your own
Community gardens allow local people to come together and grow something special. Spaces such as these are vital in inner-city areas where greenspace is sparse but the need for access to nature is paramount.
Not only do community gardens allow for residents to grow flowers, vegetables and make an area beautiful, it helps to bring communities together with the mutual understanding to maintain an area for the better of the local area. They also have environmental benefits, such as helping to tackle climate change and helping to create homes for nature.
Groundwork’s Energy Gardens has helped to provide residents in London with access to community gardens that are sustainable with the help of green tech. After teaming up with London Overground, stations across the city are being turned into thriving gardens that will incorporate food growing plots and solar panels providing on-site renewable energy for lighting, water pumps or other station amenities, to help bring sustainable greenspace to the city.
2. Be more energy efficient
Powering our homes accounts for high percentage of energy usage so ensuring that your house is as energy efficient as possible is a key way to ensure that you are both saving money and energy.
For houses that are designed to be energy efficient, this can be as simple as remembering to switch off lights or not using the dishwasher until its stacked high. But some houses, the design of the house allows for heat to escape, mould to grow and bills to rise as a result.
Groundwork’s Green Doctors help local residents to become more energy efficient by installing draft-proof fittings, reflective radiator panels and offering tailored advice to vulnerable households that allow people to take control and to reduce their environmental impact at the same time.
3. The only way is up-cycling
Why throw out your old set of dining chairs or chest of drawers when you can recycle them and up-cycle them into something special and unique?
The idea behind up-cycling is to take an old piece of furniture, clothing or household item and find your inner Blue Peter to make it fabulous again.
If up-cycling isn’t something that interests you, remember you can still do your part to help your local community and donate your unwanted items.
Groundwork’s ‘Project UP’ is a scheme that invites unemployed young people in Merseyside to volunteer to become dedicated followers of up-cycled fashion and design, while providing hands-on skills to help them with future employment. The furniture is then sold on, or given to vulnerable families in need.
4. Education, education, education
By getting young people involved in the environment at an early age allows them to grow a better understanding and appreciation of why it’s important to sustain and nurture it.
From forest schools to Eco-Schools to sustainability, allowing children to escape the traditional learning environment and experience outdoor learning helps to instil a love of the great outdoors and allow the green leaders of tomorrow to learn something valuable.
It’s also vital to provide young people with the opportunity to work outdoors and to understand that not all individuals are designed to work in an office. Green Teams provide young people with horticultural training that enables them to learn a trade, improve their chances of employment and create better places for their communities, outcomes which have both personal and social benefits.
5. Get to grips with it – literally!
Access to greenspace and nature is vital to us all. Aside from the fact that it helps to boost and improve our health and wellbeing – both physical and mental – it gives us a sense of freedom that people of all ages can enjoy.
Getting involved with your local community and treasuring your local greenspaces ensures that we can preserve it for future generations. Whether it’s the local park, a community garden, or even a football pitch, by getting out there and experiencing the benefits of greenspace allows us to appreciate it so much more.
Groundwork champions the importance of ensuring that communities continue to work together to ensure their local outdoor space is loved.
To find out more about how you can create a community garden, check out Groundwork’s Community Project Toolkit for advice, tips and inspiration.
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