Launch of Imagine Leeds

I try to do my bit for the environment.

I make sure all the right stuff goes in the green bin for recycling, and if I make the odd mistake Clancy is always there to crack the whip and sting my conscience (don’t worry, the whip is entirely plant-based, responsibly sourced, fake leather, so no animal was harmed in the process… besides me, obviously.)

I walk to the shops most days and buy local as much as I can, making me years ahead of the fifteen minute city stuff.

And I buy all my clothes from the charity shops around Armley Town Street. Except underwear, obviously. Some things just need to be untouched by human hands. And other bits. I consider myself reasonably empathetic but I really don’t want to walk a mile in another man’s boxers. That’s far too grim to contemplate. Canada would have to be on fire and the Sahara covered in snow before I ever considered pre-loved y-fronts… erm, yeah…

But a lot of the time I just feel overwhelmed. Does placing the non-recyclable plastic bottle tops in the correct bin make any appreciable difference to global climate change? Would purchasing a new pullover from Primark have the slightest influence on net zero? Could buying a pair of underpants from Poundland contribute much to reducing the longevity of even a single polar bear?

I doubt it.

Personally, I’ve never struck oil, hunted a whole species to the verge of extinction, or constructed a coal powered energy plant, so my puny little choices don’t really amount to a hill of beans.

So, like most people, I know what I shouldn’t be doing. But I’m stuck when it comes to what I could be doing.

Which is where the new Climate Action Hub at Imagine Leeds comes in.

I went to the launch last week (anything for a free bar) at the City Exchange on Albion Street. And apart from an initial feeling of deja vu (which the free wine soon dissolved) I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much was going on in the city that I wasn’t aware of.

Special shout out to the wonderful people from Our Future Beeston who made me laugh uproariously and genuinely made me think about how I could get involved with the positive stuff going on and maybe get out of my rut of abject cynicism. 

But there’s some great stuff here. 

Climate Action Leeds.



Little veg libraries.

Personally I’ve decided to help set up an Edible Armley group. I know that may sound like an oxymoron to some of my fellow cynics (and definitely unappetising) but I’ll be writing about it a lot in the coming months to try to persuade you otherwise. And I’ve even made a start on the indoor crop of microgreens on the windowsill, just to prove you can grow things you can eat anywhere. And even the cat’s getting in on the action… We have a cat who enjoys a bit of greenery, and I don’t just mean salad. He’ll eat anything green, including artificial Christmas trees, foil packaging off cat food pouches, and random bits of cellophane he finds around the place. So we’ve decided to grow him his own salad garden. He seems to be enjoying it.

So, get down to Imagine Leeds. Get inspired. Do something. Even if it’s growing a bit of cat grass on the top of the fridge it’s a start.

Or sprouting green lentils in a cup. Just working out a recipe for Armley recipe station

One comment

  1. All very worthy Phil but Is this change at the scale we need?

    First, to avoid the charge of being totally negative and fatalistic I commend any attempt to remediate the effects of the climate emergency which range form the personal to international. Obviously, there is a moral argument that everyone should do what they can and that city level initiatives can make some difference.

    However, since the problem is global and involves reversing the effects of a century plus of industrialisation, an economic system predicated on growth and a culture of buy more and express yourself consumerism. Also, since politically we still live in an age where it is thought that a nation’s economy should be run like a household budget, I have a different view of how things gotta change.

    Unfortunately, I end up knocking small scale local initiatives but when I think of say what needs to be done in an area like Seacroft to become more sustainable. At city level This would involve a massive programme of home insulation, local renewable energy production, better public transport, waste management and recycling initiatives. Such a switch would require massive investment which could not be raised locally nor presently at national level given Labour are already rescheduling their green commitments.

    In the face of this gap in the meantime what happens local people are encouraged to get aware and involved through edible beds, composting and tree planting schemes- all very useful but even if replicated across the city will not generate results at sufficient scale. It is true LCC has “commitments” but is hamstrung by years austerity and corporate inertia.

    No, what is needed it has been suggested is a turn around on the scale of economic changes that were affected during the Second World War when the US and UK economies were reorientated to war production and strategic planning was in traduced to bring this about.

    This is without considering reparation payments to countries already impacted by climate change, assistance to newly industrializing countries to also transition away from fossil fuel technologies and the local and geopolitical issues surrounding the extraction of rare metals on which the technologies on which developed countries are relying for transition depend.

    Ultimately this is about political change rather than individual efforts or pure localism which at worst could be said to be a form of self- delusion or a form deception on the part of corporate and political interests whose change we need most.

    In this context it is illuminating that the government have recently cracked down of the right to protest, angered no doubt by the visibility of demonstrations arguing for urgent need for more radical actions to “really make a difference”.

    You can query whether direct action works or whether (or both) doing something practical now is worthwhile now. But sorry if this sounds like a cop out of my civic duty or a bystanders view of “what we as a community can do” but frankly I prefer to offer what support I can to people like those fighting airport expansion and anyone like Just Stop Oil who will continue to protest courageously rather than simply growing some herbs on my windowsill.

    Kind regards


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