Volunteer waste reduction groups across Mid Devon and Teignbridge are ‘thriving’ thanks to our Community Action Groups Devon (CAG Devon) project.
The project, which is funded by us and managed by Resource Futures, has helped these groups more than double the amount of carbon that they have prevented from going into the atmosphere.
Together their actions have increased carbon dioxide emissions saved from 60.6 tonnes to 139 tonnes, equivalent to the electricity needed to support 100 homes for a year.
CAG food projects have saved over 32 tonnes of food from waste, equivalent to 40 supermarket delivery vans full of food, enough to feed a family of four for 10 years.
And some of these projects are also helping local communities cope with the cost-of-living crises with community larders and fridges, that were developed during the pandemic, becoming increasingly popular.
One project in particular, Uffculme Green Team (UGT), offer give and take events giving people the chance to exchange essential items for free, while their surplus food redistribution scheme diverts food from waste into the local community.
With the pressure on household budgets a constant concern amongst the community it has developed into a busy community hub in the car park of the local doctor’s surgery, a space where volunteers and residents meet daily, sharing food and mutual support.
One volunteer said: “It’s about more than just food, I have chatted to more people here than anywhere else in Uffculme, this encompasses everything, everyone.”
Over the last year our project has given expert guidance, training, knowledge, skills, and provided networking opportunities to help these local groups to do their bit to tackle the climate emergency.
And a 130 per cent increase in the carbon saved is all the more remarkable given that 2021/22 was an especially challenging year; Covid -19 restricted CAG Devon’s ability to provide initiatives such as repair cafes and community fridges.
But despite this, local groups are thriving and last year CAG Devon groups contributed an impressive 16,079 volunteer hours and even added a new group, Knead to Connect CIC.
These volunteer hours are dedicated to reducing, reusing, repairing, and recycling; cleaning beaches, and collecting litter; ensuring that the finite materials and resources we would otherwise throw away stay out of landfill or incineration and that their value to the local economy is extended.
Other groups volunteer to plant trees, create wildflower gardens, encourage cycling and walking activities, and promote renewable energy initiatives, creating a net positive impact on the environment as well as the local community.
“There’s so much great work going on”, said CAG Devon Project Manager, Helen Vines. “And it’s work that is not only raising awareness of the global climate emergency but is bringing people together to take practical action in tackling it.
“At a time when so many of us feel powerless in the face of climate change CAG Devon is evidence that by coming together around a common goal, by organising ourselves, we can do something and have a positive impact in our communities.”
In fact, CAG has been so effective in enabling community action to combat the climate crises it is referenced in Devon’s Carbon Plan, the county’s roadmap to net-zero.
CAG is presented as an example of how communities can be supported so they can learn new skills to help them repair, share and swap items themselves and develop projects and organise events to reduce waste and promote sustainable living.
Jeni Fulton-Price, a lead volunteer with UGT added:
“For me it’s a way of putting beliefs and words into action. Sometimes the bigger environmental picture can look bleak (but) we focus on the positives locally. We are indeed stronger together. Community action can, and does, make a difference.”
Councillor Roger Croad, our Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Equality said:
“The CAG Devon project is a great example of Devon County Council supporting communities to find local solutions to issues that really make a difference to their community. These projects also inspire other groups to act, setting up a ripple effect across our towns and villages.”
“With carbon dioxide emissions the principal driver of global climate change, the work being done here demonstrates how, through a collective local effort, community groups can have a direct impact on tackling the climate crisis and many of these projects are also helping communities who are going through difficult times.”
Community Action Groups (CAG) Devon supports community groups in Mid-Devon and Teignbridge providing free insurance, guidance, training and opportunities for networking and skills sharing.
For more information visit cagdevon.org.uk