The entire world has had a challenging year, so it was fitting that our final Connect event of 2020 was all about renewal, specifically the theme of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We were joined by presenters who shared inspiring projects that demonstrate how simple solutions can reduce waste, find new purpose for old things and how this can provide additional benefits, such as reducing stress and connecting people and communities. 

We are very pleased to share the amazing Reduce, Reuse, Recycle projects with you, so you can learn more about them and also get in touch if you would like to support them. 

Recycle Devon

Lucy Mottram provided an encouraging update on the work that Devon County Council is doing to teach children in schools about the importance of reducing waste and recycling old possessions instead of always buying new things. They are currently providing Covid-friendly outdoor workshops for pupils and students in schools across Exeter, and are planning remote training for teachers in the summer term next year. They normally offer free educational trips to waste management sites for schools and community groups and are currently offering virtual tours of these facilities. 

The ask: You can support Recycle Devon by visiting their website and learning more about all of the resources available for schools, community groups and individuals to reduce waste, including charities and shops that are part of the circular economy.

Get in touch:

Exeter Food Action

Every year Exeter Food Action distributes approximately 25-30 tonnes of surplus food from supermarkets to charities in Exeter, who then provide food and meals to people in need. Neither the supermarkets nor the charities have to pay for this service, and as well as saving money and feeding people, it also reduces waste! In a recent partnership with FareShare South West Exeter Food Action can now receive donations from across the food supply chain. Elizabeth Buttland also provided a fascinating insight into how lockdown and social distancing had impacted their work. There was much less surplus food available from supermarkets, but they were inundated with offers from the hospitality industry.

The ask: Exeter Food Action currently has vacancies for trustees on their board. If you have any expertise in marketing and social media they would also be grateful for support to promote their services. 

Get in touch:

Men in Sheds (Age UK Exeter)

You might not associate Age UK with reduce, reuse, recycle, but Martyn Rogers, CEO of Age UK Exeter, told us how one of their services not only enables older men to find companionship, but it is also an important link in our local circular economy. Men in Sheds provides space and equipment for older men to use their woodworking and metalworking skills to build and refurbish objects, from garden tools to hedgehog boxes and benches, which they sell in their shop next to the bus station on Paris Street. They also accept donations of tools, which they refurbish for use in the workshop. As well as reducing waste by creating new items from things that we already have, revenue from their shop also brings more than £45,000 per year to support Age UK Exeter’s other services. 

The ask: Men in Sheds cannot accept new members at the moment because of social distancing, and their shop is closed during the national lockdown in England. The shop should reopen on 5 December, and when things return to normal they look forward to welcoming everyone again. In the meantime, you can also support Age UK Exeter’s Coronovirus Emergency Appeal

Get in touch:

Exeter Growers’ Co-operative

The Exeter Growers’ Collective own a 4-acre field outside of Exeter, where members of all ages work together to sustainably grow organic fruit and vegetables that they harvest for themselves. In addition to their field, they also have an orchard, Devon hedge and pond. Everything at Exeter Growers Collective is centred around reduce, reuse, recycle. They use second-hand equipment donated to them and get their tools from Men in Sheds. The electric fence and  water pump are powered with energy from solar panels and store it in old car batteries! 

The ask: You can support Exeter Growers’ Collective by joining as a full-member or as a friend and helping them out with all of their tasks on their site. They would also welcome any donations of old tools and supplies, from water butts to cardboard sheets!

Get in touch: Exeter Growers’ Co-operative contact form

Plastic Free Fortnight

Tristan Allen from Be the Change Society at Exeter University explained how we can all start making a difference easily, by reducing or eliminating our use of plastic during their ‘Plastic Free Fortnight’ (21 November- 5 December). Their campaign shares simple tips and suggestions on how to reduce your use. Get involved via Facebook and Instagram and share how you are getting on. If you’re reading this after Plastic-Free Fortnight has ended, don’t worry! Be the Change are planning a similar event for 2021, but don’t wait until then to stop using plastic.  Everything you do makes a difference, so it’s definitely never too late.

The ask: You can support Plastic Free Fortnight by reducing your use of plastic whenever you can. If you’ve discovered a useful plastic substitute that you think others would like to know about, why not share it with them?

Get in touch: 

Thank you to all our Connect presenters and attendees over the last year. If you missed our previous Connects, then you can read our wrap up blogs from Greening the City and Travel to School. We have unearthed really amazing community-led and volunteer employee-led initiatives this year. Exeter is vibrant and active in supporting net zero projects. 

This might be our last Connect event of 2020, but we are looking forward to sharing our 2021 Connect programme in the new year, and discovering more amazing projects! 



What Next?

We are urging everybody – organisations, staff, communities and residents – to play a vital role in the delivery of the city’s Net Zero Exeter 2030 Plan.