Wednesday, 24 June 2020

We need new green jobs, not a bail-out of the planet-destroying industries

As we emerge from lock down, the world has to create new jobs in the green industries of the future, not bail out big-oil and aviation whose emissions are putting our very existence on this planet in peril. Temperatures this month have been as high as an astonishing 38C in the Siberian Arctic. [See: "Arctic Circle sees 'highest-ever' recorded temperatures"]

It's urgent that the UK government fully backs plans by local councils such as Ealing's to go carbon neutral ASAP and matches those efforts with a national plan.

The science is clear. Failure to act would mean that we would stumble out of the Covid crisis only to face a looming and far worse climate catastrophe.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Walk or cycle to stay healthy, cut pollution & CO2 emissions, and avoid Covid

Traffic volumes in London before the Covid pandemic were already causing air pollution that kills over 9000 Londoners every year, and producing CO2 emissions that contribute to the looming climate catastrophe. Now, with the reduced capacity of public transport due to Covid we need a safe alternative that doesn’t involve burning oil to move around thousands of one and a half ton metal boxes (cars), typically containing just a single passenger each.

So it's good news that Ealing Council and the London Mayor aim to to make it safer to walk or cycle. But to transform our city we need first class cycling provision. What does that mean?

First Class cycling provision IS:

and it’s NOT:

Smooth, broad, segregated cycle paths

Narrow, patched & potholed routes, only a white line separating them from traffic, full of speed bumps and parked cars.

Continuous routes

Broken by stretches of busy roads or dangerous junctions.

Direct and uninterrupted routes that would be straightforward and safe for a child cyclist.

‘All around the houses’ routes with endless turns, multiple buttons to press at controlled junctions, requiring frequents stops and even dismounts to stay safe.

Frequent stops (more than 5 times a mile) could double the energy required from the cyclist.

Away from pollution hot-spots

Next to highly polluted major roads

Equipped with secure, convenient and dry parking at destinations like schools, colleges, workplaces, shopping centres, entertainment complexes and stations.

Without anywhere genuinely secure to leave your bike.

The Dutch have done it - why can't we?

We know first class cycling provision. is possible because the Dutch (and others) have done it. Take a look at these short videos about the truly inspirational cycling facilities in Holland:

"How the Dutch got their cycle paths" [6 minutes]


"Utrecht: Planning for People & Bikes, Not for Cars" [13 minutes]

What are Ealing doing?

A map by active travel charity Sustrans enables people to view their local authority’s response to the Covid-19 crisis in the provision of safe infrastructure for walkers and cyclists. (Note: On the Sustrans website, to see the map, you need to open the link “head to the map here” near the end of the article).

You can catch up on what Ealing Council is planning by viewing this video from Julian Bell, Ealing Council leader, about new cycle lanes.

Ask for more!

If you can suggest a cycling improvement, contact your councillors. You could also add your suggestion to this interactive map that allows people to suggest improvements for walking or cycling: WidenMyPath

How about ...

  • Secure covered bike parking in town centres and supermarket car parks.

  • Facilities for a cycle rickshaw service to take you and your shopping home. Or speed-limited, electric TukTuks.


  •  A safe route across a busy junction.


Ealing Cycling Campaign

Video by Dave Watson: Top Tips for Cycling in London

"How cycling could help solve the coronavirus transport crisis" - video from The Guardian.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Working with local schools

Ealing Friends of the Earth has been visiting local schools to give talks on environmental issues. Currently we have two talks designed for primary school children:

Plastic Waste (+ Re-Usable Bottles) 

This talk was designed for the earlier years (e.g. years 1-3) and to be fun, informative and not scary. It shows how we should avoid generating plastic waste because while natural materials break down in a compost heap, plastics do not. And it promotes the use of tap water in re-fillable water bottles (or from a water fountain) instead of buying water. It includes some short film clips showing a speeded up compost heap and how plastic gets carried into the sea.

The Environment and Air Pollution (+ walking or cycling to school)

The second talk is designed for slightly older children to introduce the concept of 'an environment' and then focus on the issue of air pollution. It makes use of views of Earth from space so that our atmosphere is seen as precious and finite, and something we need to care for just as astronauts care for air in the space station. One way children can help to reduce air pollution is to walk or cycle when possible, rather than travel by car.

This January we gave the plastics talk to two assembly groups covering
Years 1-3 at Little Ealing school, and we gave both talks at Hambrough Primary School in Southall - the plastics talk for the earlier years (Key Stage 1) and the air pollution talk for the older children (KS2).

The photos show Ealing Friends of the Earth volunteers Sheila and Donald speaking at the Hambrough assemblies, where they also stayed on to do some class workshops.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Hosting NCS - Saturday 16th November 2019

The Stall
Ealing Friends of the Earth hosted another group of young people undertaking the National Citizen Service (NCS) in October-November. NCS is a government backed programme which brings young people aged 15 to 17 from different backgrounds together for a common purpose. There are three sessions. The first is an introductory session which sets the 'challenge', the second is a follow up to monitor progress, and the final session which was held on 16th November is when they carry out their project.
Bulb Planting
The challenge we set them was to organise a face-to-face activity to tell people (especially young people) in Ealing about the climate change emergency, and then to organise a social media activity to tell people in Ealing about the climate change emergency.

The group was quite organised and cohesive. They decided for the face-to-face activity, to make a tree of some sort and ask the public to stick notes with suggestions to Ealing Council on what they could do about the climate change emergency. They also decided to make little credit sized cards with points about what individuals could do about the climate change emergency.

For the social media activity, they were talking about setting up an Ealing Friends of the Earth Instagram account and doing an Instagram campaign.

As the weather was forecast to be reasonable, it was arranged to meet in Walpole Park where they would put up a stall to work from.

The stall worked well. Several people came to see what they were doing and pinned notes on the tree that they had drawn, the students discussed climate change with a couple of people and also walked round the park handing out EFoE leaflets and their Eco-friendly checklist cards. At one point, the Ealing park ranger intervened as we hadn't applied for permission to put up the stall – but she was very positive and instead got the students involved in a planting bulbs project nearby.
Students, NCS Staff & EFoE members

 In the afternoon the social media project didn’t really take off as the student who has set up an Ealing Friends of the Earth Instagram account was absent and we couldn’t get the password for the account. Instead Nic and Caroline had a lesson on Instagram. When we get the password details we will go onto the account and put into practice what we have been taught.

For the future, NCS is changing its provider from The Challenge to other (mainly sports) organisations so it's not clear if EFoE will continue to have the opportunity to host NCS groups.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

West London College Freshers Fair - 10th October 2019

We ran a stall at the Ealing Green site of West London College for their Freshers Fair on 10th October 2019, 11:00am to 2:00pm. The students at this FE college are aged between 16 and 18.

Our Stall's theme was mainly plastics and climate change. We highlighted the expense and wastefulness of buying water in disposable bottles. We also took a laptop computer so that we could show short films.

When we held a stall at WLC last year, the college had a system by which if the students visit several stalls, they got a free bag of popcorn. This was very effective in encouraging students to visit the stalls. Unfortunately this year the college weren't able to arrange for popcorn, and it was a little harder to get students to engage. However we managed to speak to over 40 people and this is a group we'd really like to get through to, so it feels well worth doing.

We knew we'd meet students from many countries and we came armed with some details about FoE around the world and about the environmental problems in areas such as the middle east and Africa.

Brentford Festival - 1st September 2019

At the start of September we made our usual appearance in the Brentford Festival.

Our stall contained a wealth of information on posters and in campaign leaflets. We also had a range of zero-waste products to sell. 

During the day we were visited by Rupa Huq MP who showed her support for the Friends of the Earth PLASTIC POLLUTION ACTION PLAN by tweeting the photograph shown here.

Hosting NCS - Saturday 3rd August 2019

This summer Ealing Friends of the Earth hosted a group of young people undertaking the National Citizen Service (NCS). NCS is a government backed programme which brings young people aged 15 to 17 from different backgrounds together for a common purpose.

The project we set them was to learn all they could about climate change and then deliver a talk to invited friends and run a campaign stall in Walpole Park.

There are three sessions. The first was an introductory session held on the 22nd July, where we introduced ourselves, gave a brief presentation on climate change, with slides and videos, outline the project and then left the young people to discuss and ask any questions. The second session on 27th July was to follow up and see what progress they had made. The final session on 3rd August is when they carried out their project. In addition, the day after the final session, they have a campaign day where they do something to support us but without our involvement.

The Talk

For the talk they had created a PowerPoint deck and delivered it as a group, each taking a turn to cover some of the - see the picture. UWL did us proud with an enormous lecture theatre with a huge screen. The talk was quite short and the young people decided that they'd like to do it again at the end of the afternoon and film it - which happened (in a yet bigger theatre!).


The Stall

They set the stall up in Walpole Park under the awning near the Rickyard cafe, at 1pm. The site was good withplenty of footfall. They had some biscuits to offer to people who answered a simple quiz. The young people turned out to be very good at engaging with the public and having so many lively youngsters with us created a buzz. We had lots of interactions and 24 people left their details on our sign-up sheet.


The Campaign Day

For the Campaign Day (where we are not involved) the young people decided to do a litter pick on Ealing Common and in Walpole Park and then made a mosaic- see photo.