Cllr Cait Taylor tells us about the Zero Carbon Guildford Opening

November 25, 2021 2:16 PM

Cllrs Cait Taylor, Julia McShane and Masuk Miah

Zero Carbon Guildford is a community hub and a volunteer-led initiative aiming to provide individuals with the knowledge and resources to see what we can do at home to reduce our carbon impact on the planet and empower our community to develop an action plan to address climate change.

The space is to bring together individuals and groups along with climate mitigation and adaptation ideas. Its doors officially opened in Friary Street on Saturday (20th November 2021), and it was great to see so many familiar faces and meet others keen to find out what might be possible.

A volunteer met us at the door and gave a brief overview of the interactive exhibits currently displayed. These included Surrey Hills baby clothes bank, which runs a loan scheme for baby clothes, a green read share scheme loaning out books on environmental, geographic, and other related issues, and the library of things. The Electric bike shop displayed cargo bikes to demonstrate viable alternatives to the car, and they operate a 'try before you buy' scheme. The University of Surrey had an air quality pollution quiz and mobile monitoring equipment. There were wellbeing classes and a kids craft table.

Zero Carbon Opening 2

Cllrs Pauline Searle and Masuk Miah, Guildford Borough Council representatives for Stoughton

Invited to look around, the first thing that caught my eye was the vertical farming towers. It made it easy to see how, with the small footprint and relatively simple technology, food can be grown using less energy and water both on a commercial scale and in our homes. It makes a difference seeing these things and finding out about them in person rather than just reading about them. If I can clear some space in my kitchen, I may well install one myself!

Towards the back of the space, there is a TerraCycle recycling station. What's a TerraCycle recycling station, I hear you ask? It is somewhere to take those items that can't go in the ordinary recycling waste collected from our homes, such as empty beauty product containers, baby food pouches, and even marigold gloves! Many more things can be recycled (22 at the moment), and Zero TerraCycle provides a convenient place to drop these items off and stop them from going to landfills.

Taking a quick break for a coffee and a delicious white chocolate and raspberry brownie at the café, I overheard someone say they'd never known that vegan sweets could taste so good! These must-haves come from the Zero Waste Shop being set up to run alongside the café.

The walls have displays covering biodiversity in Surrey, what various local groups have been up to locally, our rivers, air pollution, pesticides, and solutions to 'green' our homes and reduce our carbon impact on the planet.

Zero Carbon Talk

Ben, one of the founding trustees, gave the opening address describing how the concept came about and was brought to fruition by a dedicated group of volunteers. We also heard from Adrian, who is the treasurer for ZCG and is the vice-chair of Guildford Environmental Forum.

A short while later, a panel discussion followed by a Q&A on renewable energy and green heating was chaired by Olivia, another trustee of Zero. Chris Stapleton from Blue Kangaroo Electrical spoke about Infrared Heating panels and how they are a more efficient way of heating space using non-visible infrared light using less energy but getting quicker results. It was impressive to see how discreet and easy to retrofit they are. Marcus Butler from Sink Carbon Neutral talked about the ways and benefits of insulating our homes and answered questions from the audience.

Other talks included one on the University of Surrey's Sustainability Goals, Vertical Farming provided by Zoe Harris and Seedleaves and a talk on Rivers by Cat Kavanagh.

It was a day packed with information and ideas, so if you want to make a difference but are unsure of what to do next, visit Zero for inspiration and see the fantastic things being brought together under one roof.

Zero Carbon Guildford is exclusively run by volunteers, and it is astonishing to see what they have achieved in such a short time, so why not give them a hand, volunteer, and get involved.

Cait Taylor, Borough Councillor for Friary & St Nicolas
25th November 2021