Head and shoulders photo of Mayor Joanne Anderson
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND. Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson at the Cunard Building on 21 May 2021. Picture: Jennifer Bruce/Liverpool City Council.

BLOG: ‘Make one small change’ – Mayor’s appeal over zero waste

Mayor Joanne Anderson writes about the small steps she has taken to reduce waste, and urges residents to play their part too...

Food waste is a pet hate of mine, so I always try to only buy what I will eat. But there will always be the unavoidable remnants – the eggshells from breakfast, the banana peel following a walk, the countless decaffeinated tea bags that get me through the day.

Putting these scraps in the bin would lead to it eventually being collected and transported by train to a waste plant, resulting in significant and avoidable carbon emissions. So I decided to invest in a composter that sits in my garden, eating and breaking down waste before returning it to the earth.

While this may seem like a small insignificant act, a recent report showed that in Liverpool, up to 40% of waste in our purple bins was food waste and a significant source of carbon emissions. I believe it’s up to all of us to make whatever small shifts we can in this limited window of time before the damage to our planet becomes irreversible.

Since becoming Mayor, I’ve been on a mission to find a way for the Liverpool City Region to minimise waste-related carbon emissions. I was nominated by Liverpool City Region leaders as Political Lead for Waste, and over the past year I am proud to have spearheaded a strategy for all six authorities to roll out across the region. I am delighted that this is set to be approved by Liverpool’s Cabinet later this week.

Fundamentally, the strategy will give the Liverpool City Region a framework to minimise waste-related carbon emissions through my vision to reuse, recycle and repurpose at a neighbourhood level.

My passion for sustainability all began when I was a board member at the Furniture Resource Centre (FRC) – the group of social businesses that Bulky Bob’s was born out of. At the heart of their work was a social mission to end furniture poverty and create sustainable employment for long-term unemployed people while making a positive impact on the environment.

Social business like FRC measure themselves against the triple bottom line of profit, social impact and environmental impact. It is undoubtedly this formative experience that contributed to the inclusion of a Triple Lock in my manifesto, reflected in our new waste strategy.

My mum was one of seven sisters, so as part of a big family, reusing and repurposing items was a part of life. I always looked forward to rifling through the bin bag of clothes and shoes that would arrive from one of my aunties.

We didn’t realise at the time, but we were living in a really sustainable way. It was long before the days of fast fashion where clothes are designed to be worn once before being discarded and the next purchase made.

Perhaps the biggest influence on me however, was a trip a couple of years ago to Copenhagen. It was here that I saw the art of the possible.

As one of the most sustainable and energy efficient cities in the world, Copenhagen has an ambitious plan to become the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. Here, the bike is king with 150,000 people cycling to work or education each day, significantly reducing carbon emissions and providing better air quality for the city.

However, a survey from 2006 showed that 54% of Copenhagen residents rode bikes because of its convenience, with only 1% doing it for environmental reasons. It shows how this model sustainable city was not borne from the desire of residents – rather it is the city’s job to provide accessibility towards sustainability options.

And that’s what we’re doing. Our consultation to convert the city’s three original pop-up cycle lanes into permanent corridors for active travel recently closed. Proposed improvements will see these cycle lanes updated and incorporated into the permanent fabric of the city’s infrastructure.

I know many individuals, businesses and organisations across the city are already living and working more sustainably. Because if we don’t, what’s the alternative? We only have a finite amount of time to save the world from irreversible damage.

So, my ask of you today is to make one small change. It could be cycling to work one day a week or not using the plastic bags for your fruit and veg in the supermarket. It might be making sure you separate your recyclable materials and put them in the right bin, or like me, buying a home composter!

Whatever you decide, you know you’ll be playing your part in the greatest challenge the world has ever seen. And from small actions, great change is born.

For more hints and tips, visit https://www.zerowastelcr.com/

Liverpool Waterfront