Embracing sustainability at Nunhead Knocks

May 30, 2020
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While the disruption caused by the pandemic has had a number of positive impacts on the environment, an increase in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), food delivery services and plastic shopping bags has led to a surge in single-use plastic. Plastic continues to have a hugely negative impact on the environment, and the world produces over 300 million tonnes of plastic every year, with almost 50% made solely for single-use purpose. 

Since Nunhead Knocks started, we have achieved some incredible results in supporting our neighbours and making a positive impact in the community. As we continue to evolve as an organisation, we want to make sure that we are always considering the environment and acting in a responsible and ethical way, while continuing to meet the needs of those we’re helping.  To help us achieve this goal, we have established a sustainability group who will be flexing their eco-credentials and making recommendations on how we can consider reducing, reusing and recycling in all of our activities.  

We’re currently exploring alternative options for single-use disposable items to help reduce the amount of plastic and paper we use, and we will be sharing an update on progress and some further recommendations in the coming weeks which we hope our volunteers, as well as other mutual aid groups, will find useful when trying to be mindful of their environmental footprint. 

In the meantime, here are a few pointers on what you can be doing to help:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Face masks: We have lots of beautiful hand-made cotton face masks at the Green, so please pop in (between 1-3pm each day) and pick one up. Alternatively, if you’re handy with a sewing machine, like cutting up old t-shirts or just want a quick fix, you could make your own, either for yourself, or to donate to local people and key workers. Fancy learning how? We’re looking at hosting some workshops if there’s enough interest so please drop us a line if this is something you’d like to do.
  • Gloves: Latex gloves are not recyclable, so, where possible, please use your own fabric gloves and wash these after use.  We’re currently looking into compostable or bioplastic glove options.
  • Hand sanitizer: Hold on to empty bottles and feel free to re-fill at The Green in Nunhead when passing.
Hand-made cotton face masks available at the Green

Food shopping

  • Plastic bags: Try using cotton tote bags when shopping, then decant into a cardboard box for delivery. Lots of local shops will have empty boxes they are happy to give away (and the Green often has quite a few). Most major supermarkets will recycle them and many local authorities collect them too.
  • Eco-friendly products: Check if the person you are shopping for would be happy to try out a few eco-friendly products, for example, washing-up liquids or soap. Not everyone can afford to shop in an independent store, but there are increasingly more plastic-free alternatives in supermarkets. Grab the pasta brand that's in the cardboard box. Buy the butter that comes wrapped in paper. Look out for brands that use biodegradable wrapping - Costcutter stocks Ecoleaf kitchen roll and toilet paper, which is made from recycled materials and wrapped in biodegradable materials.


  • Posters and leaflets: Always choose a printer service who can either print on recycled or FSC approved paper. Our lovely new Nunhead Knocks leaflets include the FSC logo and a message to let people know to ‘Recycle Me’!
  • Correx posters: Anything printed on waterproof correx can be recycled at the end of its life cycle and is widely accepted within most boroughs.
  • PVC banner and clings: These can also be recycled but are not yet widely accepted - check with Southwark Council before trying to recycle. 
  • Laminate: Anything with a laminate coating (or plastic sleeves) can’t be recycled so try and steer clear of this option. Putting laminated posters on trees is particularly bad for them so please be kind to them by avoiding this!
  • Say no to sticky tape: Where possible, use Blu Tack or drawing pins instead. 

Got ideas on how we can be more sustainable?

We’d love to hear them! Please share any thoughts, ideas or recommendations with Fiona Sands on Slack or email.

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