Bud Burst

On the first really warm day of spring this year I saw my earliest butterfly of the year – always a heart warmer after the long winter (an especially long winter this year). It was a brimstone butterfly, a large, pale yellowy green butterfly – I think it was a male as females are lighter in colour. Brimstones are often the first butterflies seen as they can spend the winter hibernating, tucking themselves into tangles of bramble or ivy (makes sense in our garden as we have a lot of both!) in sheltered sunny places and emerging when the sun warms them enough.

Just a few minutes later a bumblebee dive bombed by, being chased by my father’s dog who thankfully, for both their sakes, didn’t manage to catch her. Female or queen bumblebees are another native insect which overwinter. In late autumn they dig holes in chilly north facing banks to avoid being warmed up by any winter sun and emerging too soon. There are many bumblebee species in this country (24 according to a quick Google), but this one didn’t stop long enough for an ID check.

These insect flybys were just one of many clues that spring has sprung. Snow drops have already finished their bright white show by the beginning of March; crocus, daffodils, aconites and wood anemones close on their heels. The blackthorn bushes – a very common sight on the sides of Sussex roads – burst into beautiful white blossom. If pollinated these flowers will become sloes later in the year. If you look around a wood in early March the buds are bulging, just waiting to burst and fill the canopy with fresh green again.

The birds too, are clearly in the throws of spring, frantically collecting nesting materials and singing for mates.

We have recently moved and are lucky enough to have a lovely garden which backs onto farmland. Although clearly once much loved, our new garden is currently overgrown, full of bramble and bindweed, great for wildlife but not so fab for a gardener perhaps. Saying this – as I spend hours meticulously digging bindweed roots out – I will, most definitely be making room for wildlife in our garden plans. My children have started their wildlife pond design and I will take heed of Monty Don’s advice and leave some areas of lawn long – it will be interesting to see what weed species crop up. I love spring.

by Nicola Brewerton

Starting Sustainability at Home

According to an Independent article detailing the average middle-class family of four’s carbon emissions, the biggest source of carbon emissions (16 tons per year) comes from our general consumerism, whilst a meat based diet produces all of 12 tons of carbon per year. Though these numbers don’t account for the pandemic and are a rough estimate that will vary family to family it does give you some idea of our own impact.

So what can we do differently? The good news is that it does not take much to live more sustainably. There are lots of things that can be done and most of them are very easy to do when you consider how much time we spend at home these days. So here are three ideas that we hope will inspire you.

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Cleaning Products

Did you know that lemon and vinegar both make for excellent cleaning agents? Using these means less waste from packaging, less harmful chemicals being put into the water system and you get to save a little money too.

Some easy recipes to start you off can be found on Ecotricity’s Post: Sanitise Your Home the Natural Way

However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own products there is always ethical shops like The Good Club and refilleries like Scrapless and Cloughs.

Composting

Did you know that the food scraps that you throw into the bin does not get the opportunity to decompose? This is because they get buried under the ground with the rest of the landfill and compressed with no oxygen. The solution to this is to compost at home.

According to BBC Good Food’s How to Compost Food at Home, two popular systems are the Boyakashi Composting System and Worm Composting. You do not need a big garden for this – in fact Boyakashi composting is done indoors – and you won’t need much more than a few small bins with lids. 

Reusables

I am sure you already have a reusable water bottle, it is an accessory that most people have these days. The metal ones double up as a flask which has been great for hot drinks on winter walks, hasn’t it? Have you been finding other ways to reuse and repurpose things though?

As recommended above, refilleries are a great way to step closer to zero waste. You just need to save your jars, bottles and tubs and fill them with your grains, cleaning products, coffee beans and even sweeties. Not only are you then drastically reducing your single plastic use but it is an opportunity to support local shops as well.

How Do You Do It?

Reusing plastic bags has become increasingly popular as has buying reusable tote bags. However, another popular option is to use trolley bags for big shops. It is especially good for those that like to organise their shopping. Also great for those that like to scan as they go.

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There are so many things that we can do that make such a huge impact. We would love you to share with us the little things you have been doing. Anything that has worked or perhaps something you thought would work that hasn’t!

In the meantime, here is a carbon footprint calculator that helps measure your impact on the planet. It is pretty eye opening and thought provoking. There is also a chance to offset your carbon emissions if you wish.

https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator1.html

Looking to the future…

It’s New Year’s Eve! A classic time for creating new resolutions. A wonderful time to think of the changes you would like to see occur in the year ahead.

So what can we do differently in Cuckfield in 2021? If you are following our Facebook page, you will already know that we’re in the process of sorting out terracycling bins. These bins will give us the chance to recycle a lot more than is accepted in the blue bins. However this is only the beginning. There are so many possibilities!

Once the vaccinations are rolled out in the village and life begins to return to normal, we will be looking to facilitate many more community activities and events to help keep up our motivation and introduce new ways of being greener.

GROUP TRIPS

Wouldn’t it be great to find out more about the local recycling sites, or where our terracycling goes after we have dropped it off? A visit to the two West Sussex based solar farms or large energy storage facility (due to be built in Sompting in 2021) would be fascinating. Another great field trip could be to go to Rampion Wind Farm that runs along the south coast and is now in its last stage of development.

TALKS AT THE QUEEN’S HALL

There are so many topics that we can cover around being greener. Ideally, we want to host talks next year on subjects such as circular economy, how to waste less and climate change. We could organise talks with nearby zero waste companies about how and why they have set up these shops. Or reach out to the Cuckfield residents involved in sustainability, conservation or studying ethical issues. Having these sorts of events is also going to be a great opportunity to bring together local businesses and find out what actions they are taking to do their bit for our planet. I know there are many out there!

REPAIR CAFE

A repair cafe is somewhere you can take your broken items to get them fixed by skilled volunteers rather than throw them away. Cuckfield is actually surrounded by them. To name a few, there are cafes in Burgess Hill, Chailey, Hassocks and Horsham.

Different cafes repair different things depending on their skills. For instance, at the cafe in Hassocks they specialise in repairing tools, household appliances, furniture and textiles. Burgess Hill offers all of the aforementioned repairs but also attempts to fix computers, phones and sound equipment. Could we gear towards having something similar here by the end of 2021? Do we have budding or brilliant DIY experts who would be willing to get together? Time will tell.

LIBRARY OF THINGS

Have you ever wanted to just use something once but you did not want to buy it nor could you find anyone to borrow it from? An item you seldom need like a tent or hedge-cutters for which you can’t justify the environment impact or cost of purchasing outright? Well, the library of things is made especially for these sorts of issues. Sadly, none are nearby – the nearest one is in Crystal Palace – but wouldn’t it be wonderful to start a site in Cuckfield, and be able to lend and borrow when and where we want? Just a little thing but the impact would be great.

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There are plenty of other things that we could do as a community, especially in one as lovely as ours. Let’s see what 2021 brings. We plan to have a stall at Cuckfield Local in the near future so that we can find out what you, the residents of Cuckfield, would like.

In the meantime, Happy New Year!! 🌎🌈🎉

Small Sustainable Steps

If you want to do something to help the environment but can’t budget for those expensive ethical brands, solar panels or electric cars, there are still LOADS of things you can do that don’t cost anything at all. It is the little things that make a difference, after all, isn’t it?

Turn off the Lights 💡

A flick of a switch sounds simple doesn’t it but actually it can be quite a challenge especially if you have kids in the house! Yet even if you are becoming more mindful, that is a good thing. It doesn’t have to be a success/fail operation. By becoming a bit more aware and switching them off even a little bit more, you will be saving on your electricity bill and reducing carbon emissions in the process. Other small ways you can save on energy at home would be to dry your clothes on the radiators instead of the tumble dryers; to turn down the heating a little bit then use blankets, slippers and hot drinks to keep warm; and/or to turn off taps whilst you brush your teeth. These are all just small, easy ways that won’t cost you much. Obviously they won’t work for everyone. Of course, there are sometimes you need to turn up those radiators or use the dryer for times sake. However, just a little tweak in our behaviours can make such a big difference.

Reusable

Treat yourself to a reusable cups, there are some gorgeous ones on the market for any taste. Take them to your local coffee shops for your hot drinks so they don’t have to use disposable ones. I have heard that Sussex Coffee Trucks are selling some but if you hear of anywhere else, let us know!

Perhaps you don’t like hot drinks, in which case you could make sure you carry a water bottle on you. There is a theory that if you pair new habits with old ones it will be easier to do. One idea would be to attach a water bottle/reusable cup to your lists of musts whenever you go to get your wallet, keys and phone.

There are refill stations across the country where you can fill up your water bottle free of charge. To find out where these are you will need to install the app via https://www.refill.org.uk/. The first place to offer refills was Tom’s Food back in 2018. Though I am sure if you asked in any shop in Cuckfield, they would refill for you.

Refill Mid Sussex Facebook Page

If you are rolling your eyes because you already have both of these containers and never leave the house without them, why not buy some for your nearest and dearest? If you do, please comment below as to where you got it. Got to love a recommendation!

Drive Less

Another great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you only need milk, bread and eggs, there are plenty of places in the village that stock these. Perhaps there will be more in the future. Recently, places across the world are doing their best to create 15 minute cities. In short, this is the idea that all our necessities will be within a 15 minute walking distance (or a brief bike ride away).

I recently posted a poll on the facebook group, Cuckfield Gossip (image below) to find out what people wanted and was not only surprised by the amount of responses but also by the speed they came. The most wanted establishment being a bakery followed by a butchers and a delicatessen. Of course there were those that did not think it would work as it has been tried before. However, there is an argument for a local bakery or produce shop working if enough people carry on working from home post pandemic. There are also more people than ever clued up on why it is important to drive less.

To Conclude..

There are so many ways to take little steps towards sustainability that you can end up getting a little overwhelmed when you look into it. The three ideas above are just that: ideas. They may not fit in with your lifestyle. For more ideas, check out some of the references below:

Ten Ways to Live Sustainably

14 Ways to a More Sustainable Life

Let us know your thoughts or if there is anything you would add.

By Vicky Koch

Sussex Social Eco-Groups – Facebook

Using Digital as an advantage

One thing that has been happening during the pandemic – while we have all had time on our hands – is the growth of some really interesting groups on Facebook. Informative and friendly these all offer a place to find solutions and suggestions for the eco-conscious and eco-curious.

Cuckfield Selling Page – this facebook page has been needed for a long time. Great if you are doing a clear out and great if you are looking for bargains! No business ads are allowed which leaves room to scroll through all the bits & bobs on offer. Obviously with us being in a beautiful, tasteful, lovely middle-class village full of beautiful, tasteful, lovely people this is filled with great stuff to have as your own. From an eco point of view another great reason to keep an eye on this is that you’re saving something from land-fill.

Journey to Zero Waste – has over 2000 members and is “A group for people who live in glorious Sussex and want to live more sustainably.” They have a list of zero waste places to go in Sussex which is worth a look. Also if you use the tag #AskAnAdmin on your post, the administrators will do their best to use their knowledge from past posts to answer your question.

Sussex Handmade UK – if you count the whole county to be local then this is a great one. It is filled with tons of unique, unusual handmade products from both West and East Sussex. Ranging from children’s stretchy soaps in Uckfield to personalised biscuits from Hassocks, there is something here for everyone.

There are many more that we could mention and I am sure we will in due course but for now, these are our top three. Let us know what you think of them and which is your favourite!

Also we would love to know what is your go-to local Facebook group? If you don’t want to comment below, just private message us as it could be helping the whole community.

The Bigger Picture

Before we begin with Cuckfield, let’s look at the bigger picture. We are living in the ‘critical
decade’ for climate change. With temperatures increasing and weather patterns changing,
we must act now to help our planet. In this first blog, I will focus on what governments are
doing. The best starting point is with net zero carbon emissions… but what exactly does this
mean and how will it help?


You might have read or heard people talking about net zero carbon. This is all about
achieving a net zero balance between the carbon emitted into the atmosphere and the
carbon removed – either naturally, by plants for example, or through technology. 2050 is the
net zero deadline that many governments are working towards. In the UK it is a legal
commitment, and many cities, businesses and organisations are being encouraged to sign
up to net zero through the global Race to Zero Campaign.


Global momentum is building and expectations are high following the US Presidential
election of Joe Biden. In December, the UK will co-host a United Nations (UN) world leaders’
meeting to look at progress on emissions since 2015’s landmark Paris Agreement on climate
change. And in November next year, the UK will co-host the next UN climate summit – the
so-called COP26 – postponed from this year due to COVID-19. The world is looking to the UK
for leadership: my next blog will look at how this is going, and what we in Cuckfield can do
to help.

by Jo Notaras

Cuckfield Society

If you want somewhere to start with becoming more informed about local events, organisations and organisations, look no further than Cuckfield Society.

A charity established in 1963, the society endeavours “to preserve and enhance the essential atmosphere of the very special parish of Cuckfield and the surrounding countryside”. This includes running the Cuckfield Museum at Queen’s Hall.

To be honest their website is a bit out of date but we are going to get in touch and find out what is going on with them since the pandemic. So watch this space.

Cuckfield Local

Volunteer led, Cuckfield Local runs a market on the second Tuesday of every month for local businesses selling local produce. From delicious fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs from the nearby farms to wax wraps made with the help of the sellers bees, there is something for everyone.

Their aims and endeavours are on their website with a list of successful projects that include promoting a plastic bag free Cuckfield, developing a community garden and building and populating a bee hive at that Community garden.

A lovely selection of soaps from Weatherseeds Soaps.

Cuckfield Local are always looking for new volunteers and ideas for projects and solutions that we can implement in the village to help the planet. Email cuckfieldlocal@gmail.com for more details or go to https://cuckfieldlocal.wordpress.com/