CREW Energy is a volunteer-led non-profit community co-operative based in Wandsworth and Merton. Our newsletter is a round-up of the month's most interesting and important news stories on climate and energy issues, local updates and CREW news.
Climate Action Replay
June was a very busy month for CREW and the many strings to our bow. We took part in Community Energy Fortnight, Coop Fortnight, Virtual Lobbying of MP for Putney, Southfields and Roehampton - Fleur Anderson (pictured above) - and part one of London Climate Action Week. This movement across the capital and country was just another display of how being apart has only brought us closer together! It was also the perfect opportunity to show you what CREW is all about: climate, community and cooperation.
Although useful and convenient, life in plastic... is not so fantastic. According to Greenpeace UK, a truckload of plastic enters the ocean every single minute and UK supermarkets produce 800,000 tonnes every year. With production increasing, that’s set to rise.
So what can we do about it? This month we are taking on the challenge to reduce our plastic use and promote (perfectly imperfect) zero-waste living. See how you can get involved below!
Choose to refuse
We know 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' is the usual mantra but what about the fourth 'R' word... Refuse! Do you need a plastic straw (do you even need a paper one)? Do you need a bag to carry two items? If the answer is no, then say it loud and proud!
It doesn't have to cost the earth
Reusable items don't have to be expensive! While beeswax wraps and metal straws are prime purchases these days, you can still do it the old-fashioned way: cover a bowl of leftovers with an up-turned plate instead of cling film, swap make-up wipes for a face cloth (yes, wipes do contain plastic!), switch your shower gel to a bar of soap...
Refill as you roam
There's been a lot of talk recently of coffee shops refusing reusable cups during COVID-19. Don't be discouraged if you want to use your Keep Cup - there are perfectly safe ways to do so and even some big chains such as Costa Coffee are now welcoming the refillables back with open arms! If in doubt, just ask.
Luckily for us, the internet is positively packed with tips to help you cut back on plastic. Take a look at some of the actions you can adopt and keep us posted on your polyethylene-pummelling action on social media.
40% of UK emissions come from households. Britain’s homes are also the draughtiest in Europe, and one of the country’s biggest sources of carbon dioxide. The average UK household needs to reduce its emissions by 3.6 tonnes by 2030 to keep us on track towards the 80% UK-wide reduction in emissions by 2050 required to tackle dangerous climate change.
That's why Boris Johnson's 'new deal' announced last week has been met with criticism that a 'build, build, build' approach will do nothing to further our green targets if these homes are built under existing (sub)standards.
Coronavirus: 14m households set for £288m energy bill shock
We imagined that lockdown would have an impact on bills, but a recent report from Uswitch.com has shown this to amount to an average of £16 per month in UK households. However, reduced meter readings due to limited staff or inaccessibility of homes mean it could be more than six months before these households see their bill change.
The price rise is likely to hit vulnerable households hardest, with 21 per cent of people who rely on meter readers being over 65, or having a disability or a long-term medical condition. Tie this in with the effect of 'leaky', poorly insulated homes and this could increase even further.
Parts of Wandsworth are going traffic-free as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods begin to appear across the borough! Wandsworth Council has successfully secured an initial allocation of London Streetspace funding to implement a number of temporary 'School Streets' and 'Low Traffic Neighbourhood' projects designed to make travel around the borough safer for pedestrians and cyclists. One of the first pedestrianised areas is Old York Road near Wandsworth Town station from 6 July to the end of August.
Favourite book: Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (the feeling of nostalgia is so potent)
Favourite place: Cornwall, mainly the north coast but basically all of it
Describe yourself in 3 words: workaholic, friendly, optimistic
Why did you get into the sustainability sphere?
Because I think it is the challenge of industrialised human society - how do we live in the world and learn/develop while not destroying the planet. I think it starts local but with a closer connection to the world at large, especially the natural world.
Who is your green inspiration?
I read two books which convinced me to change careers and go back to school for an Energy and Environment Policy and Economics Master's at UCL: 'Silent Spring' by Rachel Carson and 'Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered' by EF Schumacher. They laid bare the need for an environmental/ecological view of the world to stop all the damage we have been wreaking.
Favourite lockdown location/activity?
Playing cards with my girlfriend while sitting on Wandsworth Common or Garrett Green, probably with a drink!
May was another action-packed month for our south-west London community and, indeed, the country. We have all marvelled at car-free roads and aeroplane-free skies. In turn, air quality has improved, and we've heard people commenting on how wonderful it is to live in a cleaner and quieter city. Many of us have become active gardeners with vegetable patches sprouting up even in the smallest of spaces. You can often see neighbours delivering produce to one another.
This pause has given us an insight into what a zero-carbon economy could be like to live and breathe in. The last thing we want to do is 'go back to normal'.
With that in mind, why not take this month's newsletter as your springboard to adopting new energy-saving behaviours, getting involved in our community-based climate action or simply finding out more about who CREW is and what we are doing?
COVID-19 energy hotline
Our COVID-19 energy hotline is in full swing, now with a direct phone number! We are the first community energy group to offer support in Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Italian and French to those struggling to pay their bills or apply for grants, discounts and debt relief. We also provide other tips on how to keep your energy bills down while you spend more time at home.
Call 0207 112 8102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
It's been a scorcher. So much so, you may be tempted to dive into the paddling pool and stay there for all of June… At the risk of raining on your parade, water is a precious resource that we should handle with care. Below are this month’s top tips to save you dosh while you wash!
Mind the tap
A dripping tap can waste more than 5,300 litres of water a year. That’s the same as 39 bathtubs of water! So, make sure your taps are properly turned off and fix taps as soon as they start to drip.
Turn it off!
A running tap wastes more than 6 litres of water every minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face.
Take up 'bowling'
Using a washing-up bowl to wash up plates or cutlery twice a day, rather than having the hot tap running, could save around £25 per year on your gas bill and about £30 per year on your water bill (if you have a water meter).
Thirsty for more?
Did you know the average person uses 143 litres of water per day in England and Wales? In case you missed Water Saving Week in May, why not read our #MakeDoCREW blog posts for tips and freebies to help you save that precious H2O.
We launched our Spanish energy café programme back in February and wanted to share our first success story! R arrived in London from the Dominic Republic 4 years ago. She is partially blind and unable to communicate in English. After 9 months of failed communications, a home visit from energy hero Katherin helped get her two broken radiators fixed in the space of a week.
The Mayor of London is investing a record £2.2 billion in streets across London to make them safer for walking and cycling, and improve the environment for everyone. Merton and Wandsworth councils are now preparing their own emergency transport response to aid social distancing across both boroughs and make longer-term changes to improve road safety and provide more space for walking and cycling, in turn improving our local air quality.
They are in need of specific suggestions of where to widen pavements, add cycle lanes, temporary zebra crossings, etc. in Merton and Wandsworth. If you have a suggestion, please email:
Solar panels have long been a hot topic and are a firm favourite among community energy groups looking to generate clean energy in city environments, where they are easy to mount on roofs.
PV has been hitting the headlines even more so recently thanks to the disappearance of aeroplane contrails during COVID-19 and a reduction in air pollution. Both of these factors allow much stronger sunlight to reach the ground, resulting in bumper production of solar power. Couple this with the reducing cost of solar panels, and the increasing amount of energy that a panel can generate and you're on to a winner.
Interested in getting some PV of your own, or just want to learn more?
Describe yourself (and CREW) in 3 words: innovative, inclusive, optimistic
What is your biggest CREW achievement?
We just won a £100,000 grant to develop community models for renewable heat (heat pumps and district heating). This funding and the innovation it will bring will be a game changer for CREW, hopefully for London and for community energy!
Who is your green inspiration?
All those students who went on strike from schools and who marched in towns and city centres to raise awareness of the climate emergency. It really took that movement to wake up governments around the world and shake them into action.
Coming up in June
Speaking of meeting the team... Did you know that CREW is a volunteer-led cooperative? We're dedicating Volunteers' Week2020 to our team of incredible energy advisors, eco-action games masters, sustainability buffs and community champions!
Follow our Volunteers' Week shenanigans on Twitter and answer the burning question: Who Are CREW?
This year, Community Energy Fortnight is going completely online for the very first time. Join us on social media from 13th-28th Junefor heaps of fun, including a Community Energy England Twitter takeover and exciting events as we plot how to #HarnessOurPower to build back better!