Green heroes – who’s our favourite?

September 13, 2010 at 10:16 am 2 comments

by Raj Cheema

I read the Guardian’s Green Heroes blog the other day and was pleased to see the number of projects listed there from the community and voluntary sector. It gives me a little hope especially in light of my recent rant about the lack of ‘visible’ participation of projects from the sector at events designed to discuss the green credentials of our public services. Great way to boost our spirits – I guess the writer had the axe of the Sustainable Development Commission in mind.

It got me thinking (something I don’t do often enough). A number of projects listed in the blog set out not only to green products or services in some way but  also providing social opportunities for groups of people in the community e.g. young people, long term unemployed etc. Whilst reducing our carbon foot print, many green projects have a wider social benefit particularly in creating green jobs or giving people a chance to gain skills and confidence to get back on the property ladder. Bulky Bobs is a great example of this kind work. Are there other spaces that have an impact on more than one social challenge? I’ve been wracking my brains and haven’t thought of one. I think this is a really important point and one government departments should give some serious thought to particularly in achieving the target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. They need to work together on this one. I’m not convinced that we have grappled the opportunities this sector holds yet and with unemployment likely to increase in the public sector its ashame we’re not thinking about how to connect existing intelligence and opportunity in a way that benefits and not burdens the economy.

For me, the blog also sends another important message to the Government which I hope it will consider when building practical frameworks around its idealogy and trying hard not to take the obvious routes. A low carbon economy cannot be achieved by innovative energy saving gadgets alone. We need more projects like these – providing more than one solution – and these need to be supported. Yes, we need technology to continue making advancements around sustainability. But, we can’t keep using this as an excuse for not changing our behaviours as individuals and as part of a community (I’m definitely guilty of this). An energy efficient boiler isn’t the only solution to reducing my home related carbon footprint – it helps. 

As for green heroes – who’s mine? Well, I came across a certain individual at our Going Green: A Festival of Ideas event. His name is Charles Takawira and he set up a project called AfRecycle. This guy is on a one man mission to intercept and divert re-usable hospital equipment and surplus medical supplies from the healthcare waste stream. Donated medical supplies and decommissioned equipment from NHS hospitals are refurbished through voluntary programs set up to equip local youths and the long term unemployed with valuable skills. The refurbished equipment is then redistributed to local charities in the UK and Africa working to advance global healthcare efforts. Pretty impressive I think – you can find out more about his work here and also check out some more fantastic green projects working to green our public services.

Before I sign off, it would be great to know who people’s green heroes are. Leave a comment with name and details of what the person has done. It’s always great to find out what’s happening out there.

Entry filed under: Green Next Practice.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thirup  |  September 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Hi Raj,

    First of all great blog. My green hero is Soeren Hermansen. He is (of course) danish, but more importantly he is the person who has lead the sustainable island project the danish Island Samsoe, which has made the island carbon neutral. They have managed to do this by engaging the community in the investment in green technology such as windmills (islanders own shares int he windmills) and at the same time educating people in how to save energy and live more sustainable. You can read about Soeren Hermansen and a few other fantastic green heroes in this Time Magazine article,28757,1841778,00.html

  • 2. Claire McEneaney  |  September 13, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Hey Raj,

    I think my green hero has to be Anita Roddick. I know most people know her for her animal rights stuff, but she did a huge amount of stuff to promote fairtrade, and worked a lot with Greenpeace.

    I think the Body Shop played an enormous part in getting people of our generation to think about ethical consumerism and I think that has stayed with us through to adulthood. She instilled a mindset in many people that they’ve retained throughout life.


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