Community Champions: A sustainability success story amidst a global pandemic



Sustainable Merton’s Community Champions are a group of 150 local volunteers, passionate about promoting sustainability in Merton. Even a global pandemic did not slow them down! Collectively, the Champions contributed 3000 volunteering hours to Sustainable Merton’s wide range of projects in 2020. This year alone, they spearheaded the opening of a Community Fridge to address food poverty and waste, revived a fading orchard into a vibrant social space, harvested 1000kg of produce from their community garden, cleaned up their local spaces through litter picks, and contributed numerous blogs, web chats, and stories to promote sustainable behaviour change in Merton.


Community Champion Taylor Timinsky described what her involvement with Sustainable Merton has meant to her in this year:


"Passing by empty shelves in the grocery store during the first lockdown, it dawned on me that apart from the occasional herb, I knew little about growing food. That realization led me to Sustainable Merton and I began volunteering with the Phipps Bridge Community Garden team. Learning to grow fruit & veg? Check. Reaping the benefits of nature and comradery? Check. Giving back to the community? Check. Sustainability and climate change often feel like overwhelming challenges to tackle but it's important to celebrate incremental victories. Happiness shouldn't be reserved for perfection. Despite all the setbacks of 2020, Sustainable Merton continues to remind me how much good can come from a group of people looking to better their community.”


The holistic approach to sustainability adopted by Sustainable Merton provides an opportunity for everyone to contribute as a Champion, resulting in a vibrant mixing of life experiences, backgrounds, and knowledge. This welcoming environment has meant the Champions activities have provided invaluable social opportunities in a time when social isolation has reached unprecedented levels.


Reflecting on why she joined, Community Champion Anca Tacu said:


“I have become a Community Champion because I want to contribute to the work Sustainable Merton is doing to inspire a more sustainable lifestyle at a local level and learn how this can become a significant part of the bigger systemic change our society needs. I am keen to learn from and share ideas with other people about sustainability and I am particularly passionate about how these ideas can be translated into practical actions. I am also part of the Sustainable Merton's Energy Team where my role involves keeping abreast of the latest information, policy and initiatives relating to energy and communicating these in an accessible and engaging way to our local community."


Everyone at Sustainable Merton is excited to see what exciting opportunities 2021 will bring as we work towards a more sustainable, healthier, and happier future in Merton and beyond.


Find out more and join Sustainable Merton’s friendly team of Community Champions by visiting sustainablemerton.org/champions.