Marden Community EcoHub
The Kent village of Marden is only five miles away from Yours Sustainably, a friend had tipped me off about this great initiative so l went along on Saturday to meet the brains behind this brilliant project. Co-founder Vicky was kind enough to answer my questions.
What inspired you to set up the hub?
The idea for the Ecohub came after a conversation with a friend of mine, Elle Parker, who has set up a Pop Up Bulk Refill shop in Marden. We met through a Facebook group - The Green Girls of Marden - set up by a mutual friend, and were chatting about all the ideas we had. Elle suggested some sort of regular event for her bulk refill business and I thought we could have a public presence online where we could share our ideas, skills, resources and businesses more widely...and so the Marden Community Ecohub was born!
What are the aims of the hub?
Marden Community EcoHub is there to encourage residents and local businesses to work together for a more sustainable, low impact and environmentally conscious community. We want to educate and support each other to rethink, reduce, repair and recycle individual and community resources. We are very new - the Ecohub was first established online in July 19 and I held our first event in October.
How have you involved local businesses into the hub?
The Facebook page is open to anyone to join. Most of it has involved me and Elle contacting local businesses and charities directly, but as time has gone on we have been approached by people wanting to be involved. We are keen to work with any organisation that is local to Marden and the Weald, and that has a focus on sustainability, community and the environment. We have campaigned to local housing developers Redrow and Millwood Designer Homes to improve and invest in the ponds on their land so that the ponds better contribute to local conservation and improve biodiversity, we are working with Marden in Bloom to increase the wildflower spaces in the village and we are talking to the parish council about getting some water refill stations in place at key transport hotspots in the village...we have quite a long list so watch this space for more activity!
As well as the clothes swap and clothes mending service do you have other ideas to incorporate into the hub?
Yes I would love to expand the remit of the hub. I think there is a real opportunity here and if people can share their skills and their time to help our resources last longer then we will all benefit. Some of the ideas I am hoping to build on are more regular ‘make do and mend’ meets, where people could drop off items for mending, learn from others some basic repair skills, or just come to knit and chat; running some basic cooking skills share classes; and building up a toy library and other community projects that support the use of shared resources. As well as continuing to support local environmentally-conscious businesses. All of these can offer valuable tools to people who may need help, for whatever reason, for the collective benefit of local people and the environment. Ultimately, I’d like the Ecohub to become a charity that can fund-raise to support all sorts of sustainable and community-focused projects...but that may be a little way off yet!
Are your children aware of the threat of plastic pollution?
My kids are still quite young, although we do talk about the environment and they know about my Ecohub. I bought them a great book - ‘A planet full of plastic’ by Neal Layton’ - and that has been a great way to introduce them to the topic of plastic pollution and what they can do to look after the world around them.
How could our Kent home recycling collection scheme be improved?
I think people are more interested in recycling these days. The Council could expect more of us to separate our recycling waste better-I know of many areas where card and cans, glass and plastic are separated at home. I think more people are willing to make more effort nowadays. There are lots of charities that support Terracycle and I’d like to see more collection points around. Councils incentivising businesses to use only waste removal companies that have strong green credentials is another important aspect. Lastly, I’d love to see MBC and KCC pushing more places to become plastic free. If they can do it in Penzance then why not Maidstone or Tunbridge Wells!
Do you have any advice for other villages thinking of setting up a similar project?
Just go for it! It isn’t going to be easy-I have a day job, two small kids and a puppy, so my time definitely isn’t limitless-but if it’s something you feel strongly about then it’s worth the effort. People really want to do their bit and I’ve had so many people tell me they are supportive of the hub that there is clearly a need for more sustainable initiatives like this. I’m happy to be contacted by anyone thinking about doing something similar-you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Marden Community Ecohub page on Facebook.
My sustainable purchases for the day were a bamboo toothpaste and a pack of loofah pot scourers. Next time I will be better organised and will take refill bottles. Congratulations Vicky and Elle and best wishes for your Marden Community Ecohub.