Hackney residents descended on the Town Hall yesterday to participate in the council’s annual ‘Sustainability Day’.
The single-use plastic free event was supported by a network of independent stalls, each advising people on the different ways they can help to tackle the climate emergency.
Bathed in sunlight, the event had a fete-like feel; there were stalls providing samples of local honey and others providing educational activities for children, including endangered species face-painting and interactive demonstrations of how we can use sustainable forms of energy in our lives.
The event comes as Hackney Council declared a climate emergency earlier this year.
Councillor Jon Burke, cabinet member for energy, waste, transport and the public realm – who was in attendance – said in an earlier statement: “[The Sustainability Day] will give people a chance to find out about the rapid action the Council is taking to address the climate emergency, and what they can do to tackle it”.
Bettina Maidment, the founder of Plastic Free Hackney, told Eastlondonlines that the work of Extinction Rebellion had made everyone realise that they needed to start doing our bit. ”Since the [Extinction Rebellion] protests in April, we’ve had a load of people coming to us asking to volunteer and to help, which is a brilliant thing – it is brilliant people are looking to get involved in local action, [and] it is brilliant talking to different members of the community”.
Regarding the national outlook, Maidment insisted that grassroots initiatives such as those evident at the Sustainability Day have the power to exert significant influence.
“We’ve got massive power as consumers, and every pound is a vote for the world we want to live in. We need to keep badgering the government and there needs to be a polluter-pays principle. We’re not paying for the pollution that they create. They need to take the climate emergency seriously.”
Extinction Rebellion were also present at the event, hosting a stall that provided printings for t-shirts and advertised upcoming meetings. There was a fleeting protest from climate activists, although this quickly subsided.
Elsewhere, there were stalls raising awareness on how recycling should be considered a last resort; instead advocating measures such as buying food with reusable containers. Ander Zabala, Recycling Manager at the Hackney Council, said: “Recycling is only part of the solution. We need to reduce our recycling – I don’t think people are aware that recycling is [bad].”
Hackney Council has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 45% by 2030, and reach net-zero emissions by 2040. This month, the Council also committed itself to reducing single-use plastics throughout the borough.