The Wasteless Society, Bishops Castle
The Wasteless Society, a social enterprise originating in the rural town Bishops Castle, with a population of 1200 households, set up its recycling campaign in 1997. It moved into energy in 2004, with its Light Foot campaign, in response to a demand by local people who wanted to build a community wind turbine. The Enterprise felt that, in their area of outstanding beauty, there should be lots of activities that could be undertaken before a turbine needed to be built.
The social enterprise has a business plan, a memorandum of articles, a CIC statement, and an almost full time paid member of staff. It also has a membership structure. Its main aim is “Encouraging the responsible use of the earth’s finite resources by providing both information and the means to act”. The Light Foot project works to create carbon reduction tools and communicate them within communities at minimal cost.
The active group initially consisted of 12 members, but following a successful carbon foot-printing activity this number rose to 45. The group has just been awarded £100,000 based on the success of its social enterprise model.
The group has seen people initially engaged in the scheme taking that first ‘swap out the light bulb’ step right through to house swapping, in order to cut carbon!
What are they doing?
Whilst the Light Foot project uses all manner of communications to reach the public, its success has come in the door to door carbon foot-printing activity and through community meetings. The foot-printing activity has involved creating a bank of skilled, voluntary ‘carbon surveyors’ who go out to the community and offer the free Energy Service Footprint. These surveyors, who can commit anything from two hours per month upwards, are trained to communicate, so in essence they are actually conducting a household engagement process. Retaining the surveyors has been easy – there has been a core of fifteen to twenty surveyors who have stuck with the project from the start; it has really helped both that the role is very defined, and also that volunteers can feel like they are doing something really practical.
In terms of ‘market penetration,’ the activity kicked off in 2004 with an overall goal to carry out the Detailed Energy Service with two thirds of households. Starting with a team of forty five surveyors, Lightfoot was able to almost immediately access ten percent of homes, fifty percent of businesses and every public building. After eighteen months of activity, the group has now managed its first third of residential properties. Their experience is that the first ten percent are easy to find, the second ten percent also straightforward, but the final ten percent has been hard work. The indications are that Light Foot will need to be extremely creative to engage the second third of its communities’ households.
The next plan for the group is to outreach, introducing the model into comparable and also harder to reach communities such as urban communities. Light Foot holds a database on community action on various areas of emissions to make best use of its learning.
Wasteless Society Top Tip
Do a community carbon footprint – gives you a group which has got priorities, and gives a framework that is defined by outputs and processes. Get active straight away!
Reading: Magazine and newspaper articles
Tools: The Light Foot Community Carbon Foot-printing and Household Energy Service.
Organisations: HelpCo in London, have done pioneering things on energy and communities; CSE in Bristol; New Economic Foundation who lobby thought provoking solutions
Name: Adam Kennerley
Web address: www.light-foot.org