First Cambridge Eco Living Festival at Lion Yard has lots of top tips
Event was full of nice surprises
The first-ever Cambridge Eco Living Festival took place at Lion Yard on Saturday (September 22).
The event, designed to inspire communities to live a low-waste lifestyle, involved free talks and workshops, an eco pop-up shop opposite St Andrew the Great Church, and a children’s art event at the Museum of Zoology.
Among those exhibiting upstairs at Lion Yard was Veolia UK. The Milton-based firm provides waste, water and energy management services designed to build the circular economy and preserve scarce raw materials.
“Cambridge Eco Living Festival and our recycling wall provided a great opportunity to engage directly with the public on all things plastic,” said Victoria Cooper, the firm’s communications manager for the east of England. “The time is right for change and it was heartening to see so many Cambridge residents signing the #goplasticfree pledge on Saturday and committing to making that change.”
Next to Veolia was Leafoware, which makes bowls, plates and cutlery from palm leaves.
“The items last about two hours when in use,” says founder Rupin Rughani. “After that they can be disposed of in the compost bin. In a couple of months we’ll have trays suitable for fish and chip takeaways.”
Next to Leafoware was author Isabel Thomas, who had run a children’s waste-art workshop earlier in the day at the Museum of Zoology.
“There were 25 children aged about six to 14,” she said. “The talk was about top green eco-tips, which included myths like all plastic is bad, that all recyclable products are good and environmentally friendly, and that one person can’t do anything about it. They brought along a plastic bottle and became eco-heroes by turning the bottles into a plant-watering bottle.”
“It was a really good workshop, Isabel did a great job,” confirmed Museum of Zoology education and outreach officer Roz Wade. “There were lots of happy kids.”
Back at the pop-up shop were Dan Mitchell, Mary Macgillivray, Holly Denison and Karen Cannard. Dan, Mary and Holly work for ChYpPS, the Children and Young People’s Participation Service, which is based at Brown’s Field Youth & Community Centre on Green End Road.
“It’s run by the council,” says play development officer Dan. “We have examples of the type of materials businesses throw away here, and in our shop in Barnwell. We sell bags of materials for £1 – there’s a lot of card, paper and various materials. We’re showing examples of what we collect from businesses that would otherwise go to landfill. It’s amazing what people throw away!”
Karen has a blog called ‘The Rubbish Diet’ which aims at a zero-waste regime. “Why not try your own rubbish diet and slim your bin?” she asks. If that sounds too extreme for some it should be said that she started 10 years ago and “over the last 10 years my own family has slimmed the equivalent of 200 wheelie bins of waste”.
Karen’s talk to Lion Yard shoppers included tips on finding recyclable alternatives to products, managing portions better – “just cook less so you have less to throw away” – and advice on storage. She uses mesh bags from John Lewis to go shopping for fruit and vegetables, which cuts down on plastic bag use.
The Bee Bee Wraps, AmaElla, Qhere and Wildlife Trust stands were also helping answer questions from curious shoppers. And, mid-afternoon, Mbilla arts, featuring Gambian born Master Drummer Seneke Sillah together with his group London-based Mbilla Arts in a drumming masterclass.
“It’s been a really good day,” said Cambridge Motorcycles founder Stefan Kyle Still of the occasion.
Festival founder and artistic director of Cambridge Eco Living Festival Shaheera Asante said: “Saturday was amazing in terms of the high public attendance and positive response to the Eco Living Festival’s programming, at both the Lion Yard Shopping Centre and Museum of Zoology. I think after a year of hard-work the event was a success, in terms of engaging with members of the public who were not aware of innovative low and zero waste product choices and services available to them beforehand.
“I would like to personally thank all the fantastic eco participants and contributors to the festival, everyone gave their all and worked very hard, so we had great energy that day.
“A big thank you to our supporters and sponsors and to the management of both the Museum of Zoology and Lion Yard Shopping Centre.”