Project Purple's story
The project, headed up by local resident Frank Colenso, has three main areas of focus: recycling, reusing and repairing more to reduce the demand on raw materials and natural resources; reducing daily energy demand by identifying areas where they can improve energy efficiency through their homes and transport; and developing their own renewable energy sources.
The initiative also offers advice through their website on helping reduce your carbon footprint, as well as which grants can support carbon-saving home improvements, and have investigated the possibility of renewable community energy. They have also seen two new EV charging points installed to allow residents to charge electric cars and enable greener travel.
Project Purple's philosophy could be summed up as 'reduce, reuse, repair, recycle', and practical schemes have been set up to help residents take part, including a Shared Shed, where residents can borrow, rather than buy, tools and gardening equipment, reducing their consumption, and a Repair Café.
Run every couple of months, the Repair Café gives residents the opportunity to present everything from jewellery to electrical items to the local volunteers, or Fixers, who run the scheme. Each of them has their own specialism – sewing, furniture repair, carpentry – that they will use to try and make the item usable again, thus saving it from landfill and extending its lifetime. At their first event, the Repair Café fixed 11 items in two hours, as well as creating reusable shopping bags from spare fabric.
The Repair Cafe also includes a Community Hub, to encourage residents to come and talk about how they can contribute to the Net Zero target, giving them a vital space to exchange ideas and learn about new information. The latest event attracted 51 residents, with significant interest in learning how best to calculate and reduce a carbon footprint, and choosing a renewable energy supplier.
By working with residents, Project Purple has managed to create a unique initiative that promises real grassroots growth and change for the future.
Image: Geograph, Gordon Hatton
Useful learnings from Project Purple
Sustainability and carbon-neutrality is a really complex problem, and that can put people off fully-engaging with it, as they feel it can be hard to grasp.
By working with the community, and embedding our sustainability work within our wider community work, it helps people feel much more comfortable about the topic.
Making it accessible, and helping residents understand some of the new language around sustainability was key, as was listening to the kind of sustainability initiatives that the community wanted to see, such as our Repair Cafe. It's been a huge success, saving a lot of items from landfill, and has really helped get the community on board with the ambitious plans we have to become carbon-neutral within the 2030s.