“The goal is to make change”: Hackney Council hosts annual Sustainability Day

Residents learned about sustainable living, the climate crisis and how to live without using single-use plastic at Hackney’s annual Sustainability Day.

The event took place on October 23 in Town Hall Square and Hackney Service Centre and featured stool from many local groups focused on the environment.

Residents looking at the Plastic-Free Hackney stall Pic: Hackney Council

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville showed his support for Smokefree City & Hackney, a stop-smoking service dedicated to helping people to live a healthy smoke-free life. 

One group in attendance, Hackney Fixers, ran a stall encouraging people to bring electronic items and help them repair their own things.  

James Diamond, who helped found the group 11 years ago, said: “I love fixing, I love getting my hands on the tools. I love opening things up and seeing how they work and trying to work out what’s wrong with them. It’s really exciting when you fix something… to make them last longer and be kinder on your pocket, but also to help with the environmental impact.” 

James Diamond from Hackney Fixers repairing an item at the Sustainability Day. Pic: Hackney Council

The environment was a key theme of the day.

Hackney Fixers says it has helped prevent 1,707kg of waste and 24,386kg of CO2 emissions since the group began.

To put that into perspective, those figures are equal to manufacturing around four cars or driving 203,218km.

“The main [environmental] impact of electrical things is when they’re made,” Diamond told Eastlondonlines. “When you buy something new, you have all the impacts of that new thing. If you buy something that’s been used already, then the impact has already been in the past. So you can have a clear conscience about making something last a bit longer. Also, you’re preventing it from going into the waste landfill or incineration,” he said.

One woman brought a kettle that was not working to be looked at. The switch was repaired, however, it was discovered that the heating element – the part responsible for boiling the water – was broken inside, making it beyond repair.

“If you do have something that is at the end of its life, and sadly that does happen, then it should be recycled because a lot of electrical items have toxic materials in them or precious metals like copper,” Diamond said.

“That can be very valuable. So it’s much better to recycle than just to throw it in the waste bin.”

Sustainable Hackney stall selling Fair trade foods. Pic: Nasra Abdi

Sustainable Hackney represents local groups such as Hackney Fixers and supports causes such as education for sustainability, the library of things and their most recent focus – the climate emergency.

Hackney Council launched a Climate Action Plan highlighting this exact issue, calling the community to be involved.

Clare Taylor, Chair of Sustainable Hackney and Climate Ambassador, spoke about the group’s relationship with the council: “We’re kind of a critical friend. We advocate the things they are doing really well. We monitor them, so they know they are being watched to make sure that things are happening. They do a lot of very good stuff. But there’s also some things that we’d like to see differently, and we make sure they know that whilst at the same time making sure that the good stuff is recognised and that people know what’s being done.”

Speaking about the future of Hackney, Taylor told EastLondonlines: “The goal is to make change. The goal is to make Hackney a sustainable place to live. So it’s got social justice, it’s fair, it’s got good education and to make it a good place to live for everybody.”

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