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How members of CAPS try to make a difference

Climate Awareness Partnership Sidmouth is asking people to consider what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint – so how about members of CAPS themselves, who are they and what are they doing?

Dave Bramley

Dave Bramley, chairman of Sidmouth Science Festival and CAPS lead, outlines the overall concept:

“I feel the point about the CAPS project is that there are lots of things we can all do to have a positive impact.

Some will be able to achieve one or two small changes, others much more. If as a community we all do something, no matter how small, it will add up to a lot!”

Dave Bramley, CAPS lead

This is what we try to do in our house of two people. I say “try” but we are human and imperfect so cannot claim 100% success.

We repair where we can. Repair services for coats, clothes, bags, and shoes are available in Sidmouth and well worth using. When having to buy new e.g. white goods – if possible we purchase higher quality brands that have a reputation for long life and repair. And we recycle paying attention not to “pollute” the collection with inappropriate materials.

We source if possible organic and locally and eat seasonally by buying a veg bag grown down the road. Aim for zero waste. We’re mainly vegetarian but do have small meat and fish meals. We grow soft fruit, apples, pears, plums, and vegetables. Compost all we can, using card too. Generally, we make our own bread and ferment to preserve and for gut health.

We are lucky to have a very well insulated house and limit heating to living area until it gets too cold.

We bike and walk where we can or use public transport. We have a hybrid car for any necessary long journeys which we try to drive efficiently. We haven’t flown for over three years.

With consumption, we minimise purchases to what we need rather than what we want.

Dave’s top tip – cycle more!

Chris Lockyear, chair of Sidmouth Town Council

At home we’ve installed all double-glazed windows and increased the loft insulation. Thermostats are 18C and rooms we don’t use are unheated. We have PV panels and will shortly have a battery to support them. I used the Sidmouth Town Council Infrared camera to identify areas of heat loss and have installed secondary glazing on a single glazed door, curtains, and draught excluding door ‘dogs’ to reduce heat loss from the house.

On transport we have an electric car and electric bike but retain a diesel car for longer journeys, beyond reach of charging infrastructure. Locally we walk when we can or use bikes. We do fly but significantly less than we used to and offset when we travel by air.

Regarding food, we’ve reduced how much meat we eat, especially red meat. We grow our own fruit and vegetables, and we try to buy seasonal and local, almost never processed. Waste food is kept to a minimum and any we do have is composted for the garden or via the Council food waste recycling.

For wider goods we recycle what we can and hang on to things for as long as we can. We don’t follow the latest fashions, as you can tell from my wardrobe! Things are repaired when possible.

As a Councillor I have promoted increased carbon footprint awareness buying an IR camera and offering it to residents to help them understand domestic heat loss. I have undertaken almost 50 surveys of other houses personally. I was a founding member of the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group and co-founded the CAPS initiative. I wrote and promoted the Sidmouth Town Council Environment Policy and have spoken at public events about carbon footprint awareness in both Devon and Dorset. I am working with our local MP and South West Water to try and reduce the usage of Combined Sewage Outfalls (CSO) in the Sid Valley.

Chris’s top tip – make use of the town council’s thermal imaging camera

Catherine Causley, CAPS member

We as a family decided to try and live with just one car. During Covid both of our workplaces reverted to working from home and it was easy. We have e bikes for shorter trips into town and use an e cargo bike hire scheme on family cycles. The decreased traffic during lockdown meant it felt safe enough to teach the children how to ride on a road. Now that things are back to normal we’ve managed to keep to just using one car although it does require negotiation and compromise.

Reducing our food waste was a challenge. One thing that worked has been a ‘use it up’ shelf in the fridge. Before that partially used things would work their way to the back of the fridge and go off before they were eaten. Now we see short dated, already open or leftovers to use first. I also have a box where I put short-dated spice mixes or items approaching their best before date. Leftover vegetables trimmings go in our compost heap. We use our kerbside recycling food waste caddy for cooked foods, plate scrapping and bones.

We’re not vegan or vegetarian but we’ve made a big effort to reduce our meat and dairy consumption. As I have a son who is lactose intolerant and a daughter that doesn’t like meat this has been fairly easy! We’ve incorporated more beans, lentils and legumes into our meals and saved a fortune in the process.

We were keen to reduce our plastic use and did so by getting a veg box. This supports local farm businesses which is important to us. We found lots of plastic came from pre-packaged salad bags and yoghurt pots. To reduce this we make our own yoghurt, easy to make and can even be made in a slow cooker. We grow lettuce and spinach in pots and our front garden. The children loved doing this and it was lovely to harvest our own veg using the compost we’d made.

The bathroom is a great place to reduce plastic use. We’ve swapped back to bars of soap, they last ages and have minimal packaging. I’ve switched to shampoo bars, which last a long time and I find I don’t have to use conditioner. My husband was using an old school razor with replaceable blades but has since grown a beard so that has had an impact.

I try hard not to buy new stuff, looking for second hand items first. I use FB marketplace, charity shops and Freecycle. It’s not an instant consumer purchase/gratification but helps me decide do I really need this? One year I bought all my children’s Christmas presents pre-loved, it took some organising, but I saved a fortune and got some lovely things for them with a clear conscious. When I do buy new, I try to support local small businesses.

Catherine’s top tip – growing your own can be family fun

Paul Murray, CAPS survey lead for community engagement

As a two-person household we:

Eat a largely vegetarian diet, with occasional fish, cook from scratch and make our own bread and yoghurt. Shop locally and try to buy organic and ethical items/produce where possible. Minimise food waste and compost at home.

Minimise flying (no flights since 2019).

Recycle as much as possible and seek to give away items we no longer use.

We promote and appreciate nature, for example through planting and bird-feeding in our small garden and by supporting wildlife charities.

We avoid plastic as much as possible (although it is hard!)

We have nearly halved our car use in the past 18 months, partly by walking & cycling. We also aim to use buses more.

We have significantly reduced our home energy use by switching off central heating, lights, etc.

We actively support local groups involved in local tree-planting, litter-picking, and nature enhancement.

At the heart of our way of life is the wish to take a mindful approach to the wellbeing of others and the world at large.

Paul’s top tip – home composting

Alex Mitchell, CAPS lead for social media

I live with my two parents and together we:

Purchase organic vegetables through the Riverford scheme. We have meat from local butchers as a treat on Sunday, we are mostly veggie and have fish once a week usually.

I don’t have a car so I commute to work by bus and take the train or carshare when I go away.

We make our own compost. We grow fruit and veg to eat ourselves and give to friends and family: apples, plums, raspberries, blackcurrants, courgette, beans, artichokes, tomatoes.

We recycle as much as we can and use rechargeable batteries

I shop for clothes and other bits almost exclusively through second sites and charity shops.

We have a Smart Meter and are careful with our electricity use and make sure to turn off unnecessary lights or when we leave a room.

I hosted the first (hopefully an annual event) Sidmouth Christmas Giveaway in 2022 to circulate unwanted good quality items of clothing, toiletries and more.

Alex’s top tip – make use of kerbside recycling

Jo Earlam, CAPS member

I learnt the benefit of recycling at primary school age, in the 1970s, touring neighbouring houses with a wheelbarrow to collect old newspapers, these were collected by a professional paper recycler, the money going towards building a swimming pool.

I still recycle all materials I can and take re-usable bags for shopping. I’m fortunate to have a farm shop in just over a mile’s walking distance where I buy milk in refillable glass bottles. I started this during lockdown and it’s become a way of life, I calculate that in three years I’ve avoided buying 500 litre bottles of milk in plastic bottles.

I also buy the farm’s own reared free range meat and home-grown vegetables and salad. We’re not vegetarians but have non-meat days and mostly choose veggie options on the rare occasion of going out. I try to limit food waste and do home composting. I have a reusable thermos cup and water bottle, try to avoid buying things in plastic, but it’s not always easy, and aim to buy food that is locally grown and in season.

My dad instilled in me a love of the great outdoors and the understanding that we all have choices about how we look after the planet, for example not dropping litter, one of the simplest positive actions we can all take. I do litter picks around my village but find it disappointing that it’s needed.

I love living in the country, but with limited public transport, and my husband living with disabilities and dementia, a car is essential, so I try to combine journeys.

Fashion isn’t me, many clothes in my wardrobe are at least 20 years old, and though I’m not much of a sewer, the holes in my jumpers show they’re well worn.

I’ve written two stories for primary age children with a theme of environmental awareness, ‘Tuamor the Turtle’ and ‘Rosa’s Footprint’. It gives me hope to see that the younger generation do seem to get the positive planet message.

Jo’s top tip – try and use refillable bottles where possible