Celebrating Sustainable Merton's Community Champions

2020 is flying by and Sustainable Merton's Community Champions have been very busy contributing to a wide range of projects and activities to improve our local environment, encourage sustainable behaviour change and address issues around Waste, Air Quality, Energy, and Food.

COVID-19 has not hampered their enthusiasm and, so far this year, they have contributed almost 350 hours! Here are some highlights from 2020 so far:

Merton’s Community Fridge
Their volunteers played a key role in helping open and run Merton’s Community Fridge, a sustainability initiative helping residents during food crisis and beyond and stops good food from going to waste. This has involved raising over £500; spreading the word to local supermarkets; handing out food parcels; creating marketing materials; and redistributing surplus food from local supermarkets (with the help of the Dons Local Action Group) as part of the FareShare Go initiative.Thanks to their efforts, they have distributed over 1,735kg of food (saving 5,550 Kg of CO2) and provided food assistance to almost 50 families!

Weekly Web Chats
To continue to inspire and engage residents and businesses in local environmental issues whilst in lockdown, their volunteers have taken part in Weekly Web Chats to share their stories, experiences and knowledge of a wide range of sustainability topics. This includes reducing plastic waste, Merton Council’s Climate Action Plan, switching to reusable nappies and plastic-free period products, the carbon footprint of working from home, and a discussion around climate justice and the global pandemic.

Community Gardening
Many of their Community Champions are regular volunteers at Phipps Bridge Community Garden and in recent months, several others have joined this wonderful food growing initiative, in accordance with government guidelines. On 22nd April, the 50th anniversary of World Earth Day, their team of volunteers came together to celebrate and, of course, tend to their flourishing crops of potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, celeriac, and soon-to-be carrots and strawberries. Spending time outdoors has become more important than ever for health and well being, and many people have found gardening and food growing, either at home or at an allotment, a great way to keep active and stay connected with people and nature.

Working with Schools
Many of their Community Champions are passionate about empowering young people to take sustainable action and have delivered presentations and workshops to educate and inspire. So far this year, Champion Yasmin delivered a workshop on waste and recycling at the Spine Festival organised by Merton Libraries and Champion Ben presented a workshop on climate change at Wimbledon Park Primary School. Late last year Champion Yanika also told the story of her eXXpedition, a sailing journey across the Atlantic to collect data on ocean plastic pollution.

Refill Merton
On 22nd January 2020, Sustainable Merton launched Refill Merton; the borough’s local chapter of the national, award-winning Refill scheme which aims to reduce single-use plastic by making carrying a reusable water bottle the new normal. Four of their Community Champions joined them at Centre Court Shopping Centre for the official launch event. Their Community Champions joined the Love Wimbledon team to engage local businesses and put more Refill Stations on the map, and Dundonald Primary School's fantastic artwork helped to highlight the urgent need to protect our oceans as we talked to shoppers about how they can help stop plastic pollution at source, one refill at a time.

To find out more about the work of Sustainable Merton, please visit www.sustainablemerton.org.

If you would like to volunteer, please visit www.mvsc.co.uk/volunteering or email volunteer@mvsc.co.uk to find out more.