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Cumbria Embraces Great Big Green Week!

This years Great Big Green Week couldn’t have been better timed as a reminder to would-be MPs of the strength of feeling in Cumbria on climate and nature in the run-up to the election. Since the first week was proposed by the Climate Coalition to coincide with COP26 in Glasgow the activity which takes place each year has grown steadily.

Organisations big and small, from the National Trust and the libraries service, to community groups and youth projects, embraced Great Big Green Week. Reaching out to friends, family, neighbours and visitors to spread the word about the need to cut carbon and live more sustainably.

This year’s theme ‘Let’s Swap Together for Good’ was a great way of embedding the ‘reduce and reuse’ message by swapping clothes, books and toys, but was also a fun way of promoting lifestyle changes, for example, swapping oil and gas for renewable energy; processed, plastic-packaged supermarket food for home grown, locally-made products; or a car trip for a bicycle.  Knowledge, stories, and love of our natural landscape were also swapped and shared across the county.

Cumbria Action for Sustainability was able to support 30 organisations to deliver events with funding from Westmorland and Furness council and the National Lottery Community Fund.  Reports are still coming in, but over 2000 people joined in with the celebrations and 84 volunteers were recruited to continue to support repair cafes, swap events and local growing projects.  Many more events were planned independently, with over 70 opportunities listed on the Zero Carbon Cumbria website and the Climate Coalition’s listings page, and the hope is that activities for Great Big Green Week will continue to grow in future years.

Highlights of the programme were many and varied, but a huge positive is that many of the projects will be mainstreamed and maintained for the long term, including community wildlife gardens at St Paul’s Eco Church in Barrow and William Howard school in Brampton; ongoing clothes swaps and litter picks, and permanent resources such as the beautifully painted waterproof book cabinet in the La’al library in Levens.  The focus was very much on fun, with ideas like a ‘guess the veg’ competition (for which vegetables had been recycled in cakes and cookies) at Penny Bridge school and the creation of a rousing, upbeat song developed by a range of young people working with Boom Dang and Mycellium Thinking and performed at Another Fine Fest in Ulverston.

Perhaps one of the most successful ways of spreading the word was through CanDo radio in Barrow, who were able to work with their eight School Radio Clubs and ten daytime radio presenters to really promote the week. Children participated in discussing and communicating ‘Green Issues’ through creative formats such as interviews, storytelling, and poetry within their radio shows; and presenters featured interviews and show content specifically related to environmental issues.  Climate messages were relayed to approximately 8,000 radio listeners across the Furness Region and 14,000 social media followers.

Cando Radio noted that, ‘The heightened awareness of environmental issues inspired our radio presenters to consider integrating more environmentally focused content into their regular programming. This shift indicates a long-term commitment to raising awareness and educating our listeners on sustainability and climate change, beyond the scope of the Great Big Green Week event.

‘The work with children not only enhanced their communication skills but also fostered a sense of responsibility towards environmental stewardship among young participants.’


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