Ever wondered how exactly to start making your eco difference?
Transition Streets is described as a way for people to get together to save money on bills, heat their homes more cheaply, make friends and live more sustainably by helping our community reduce its carbon footprint.
This initiative is much more than that – it is the gap between reliance on Global Governments to provide the solution for a sustainable future (or the core group of enthusiastic people who do a lot) and the individuals who do their bit, but all on their own.
On your own the process of change from our current reliance on fossil fuels can seem a daunting and overwhelming task and the mentality of ‘what difference will my small change possibly make to the planet overall…’ can easily creep in.
However, as a group of people (a street, village, town) then the difference is visible and more far reaching.
Transition Streets make it easier to:
Cut your energy, water and fuel bills
Get to know your neighbours
Cut your carbon footprint
Take positive actions on issues that concern you
Participating households save, on average, about £570 per year off their household bills and around 1.3 tonnes of CO2.
Transition Streets is one of the winners of the 2011 Ashden Awards. The project was first launched in Totnes, Devon and some of the residents have made a good 5 minute film here that tells you about the project
How does it work?
Groups of friends and neighbours follow an easy-to-understand workbook that has lots of simple ways to change how we use energy, water, food, packaging and transport. It’s easier to make the changes with some help from your friends.
Each group meets up 7 times over a 3-5 month period. Usually they take it in turns to meet in each others’ homes. We send a facilitator along to help get things off to a good start, then the group runs itself.
Many of the groups choose to continue meeting, and are coming up with an ever-growing range of projects and activities, from community orchards to local film clubs.
The transition streets initiative is helping to bring renewable energy, green living and the environmental movement form the fringes to the mainstream, and is helping to build a renewed sense of community spirit in the process.
This concept is not a new one however; Transition Town Totnes was started in 2005, is now replicated in many other areas in the UK and is happening in well over a thousand highly diverse communities across the world – from towns in Australia to neighbourhoods in Portugal, from cities in Brazil to rural communities in Slovenia, from urban locations in Britain to islands off the coast of Canada. Many of these initiatives are registered on the Transition Network website.
These communities have started up projects in areas of food, transport, energy, education, housing, waste, arts etc. as small-scale local responses to the global challenges of climate change, economic hardship and shrinking supplies of cheap energy. Together, these small-scale responses make up something much bigger, and help show the way forward for governments, business and the rest of us.
Really, it’s the opposite of us sitting in our armchairs complaining about what’s wrong, and instead, it’s about getting up and doing something constructive about it alongside our neighbours and fellow townsfolk. And people tell us that as a result of being involved in their local “transition initiative”, they’re happier, their community feels more robust and they have made a lot of new friends.
What are we “transitioning” away from?
All industrialised countries appear to operate on the assumption that our high levels of energy consumption, our high carbon emissions and our massive environmental impact can go on indefinitely.
And most developing countries appear to aspire to these ways of living too. However, any rational examination of our energy supplies, our economic inequalities, our diminishing levels of well-being, our ecological crises and the climate chaos that is already hitting millions of people tells us this can’t go on much longer.
We’re saying that the best place to start transitioning away from this unviable way of living is right within our own communities, and the best time is right now.
What are we “transitioning” towards?
Whether we like it or not, over the next decade or two, we’ll be transitioning to a lower energy future – essential because of climate change and inevitable because of diminishing supplies of fossil fuels (particularly oil). There are a variety of possible outcomes depending on whether we stick our heads in the sand or whether we start working for a future that we want.
Transition Initiatives, community by community, are actively and cooperatively creating happier, fairer and stronger communities, places that work for the people living in them and are far better suited to dealing with the shocks that’ll accompany our economic and energy challenges and a climate in chaos.
Click here for a brief video introduction to Transition from Rob Hopkins, author of the Transition Handbook, co-founder of Transition Network and Transition Town Totnes.