Sustainable Thornbury Logo
Caring about the future of our community
Home pageWho we areWhat we are doingEventsHow to joinMeetingsGroups and ProjectsHints and TipsDiary datesWhat we have donePressUseful links Contact us

What we have done

We have done a lot since the group started in 2006, so this summary is divided into years: 2017-18, 2016-17, 2015-16, 2014-15, 2013-14, 2012-13, 2011-12, 2010-11, 2009-10, 2008-9, 2007-8 and 2006-7.

What we did in 2017-18

Blossom Day

We had a very successful first Blossom Open Day in the Community Orchard.

We had £35.80 in donations and 68 visitors, of whom 8 signed up for the email list.

Food Day

We had a stall at the Food Day event in Turnberries on 7th October, with a display of stored and preserved produce, home-grown by members.

Food Day exhibition

The Grow Your Own Food and Orchard Groups were recruiting new members.

Ethical Investment

On 11 October, Sustainable Thornbury member Danny Bonnet gave a talk at the Cossham Hall, as part of a public meeting on ethical investment. Is your pension fund safe from a bursting of the carbon bubble? See our report of the meeting.

Thornbury Neighbourhood Plan

Several of us worked with other Thornbury residents and the Town Council to produce a Neighbourhood Plan. This was an exciting opportunity to get some of our ideas into official policy. The work continues into 2018-19.

Other Consultations

We responded to consultations by the four Councils of the old Avon area on their joint plans at a very strategic level for development and transport. The plan is called the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) and sets out broadly where development will happen up to 2036. A consultation will shortly be under way on the first draft of the JSP.

What we did in 2016-17

Skill Up Days

We ran a series of skills workshops in May and June of 2016, like the very successful workshops in 2010, 2011 and 2014. The workshops were open to the public, including older children accompanied by adults. Each workshop lasted 2 to 3 hours.

Food Preservation Workshop

See also the poster and flier.

We had a stall in Thornbury on Saturday 7 May to advertise the workshops.

Workshops stall

Community Energy Generation – the way forward?

Can we generate our energy locally – what is the best way forward to meet our electricity needs?  We held a talk about how we can meet our energy needs in the future by focussing on local generation. Our speaker on Wednesday 23rd November 2016 was Andy O’Brien, Director of Bristol Community Energy at The Chantry, Castle St, Thornbury at 7.30pm.

Electric Car Day

We held an Electric Car Day on Saturday 1 April 2017 to promote electric cars. We feel electric cars have come of age, and are a real, practical option for lots of people. Electric cars are more sustainable than petrol or diesel, are cheaper to run and maintain and produce minimal pollution and hardly any noise in the street. They look like petrol cars, but have no exhaust pipe, gears or clutch and for shorter journeys they are much more fun. If you have solar panels then you can use them to charge your car, and make your driving even cleaner.

On the morning of Electric Car Day there was a selection of electric cars and their local owners in Thornbury shopping precinct, so members of the public could talk to owners about how easy and fun they are to use, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

Electric Car Day display  Electric Car Day - Under the bonnet  Electric Car Day - In the boot

See also the press release.

Wildflower Meadow

We received grants from Thornbury Town Council and South Gloucestershire Council for publicity for the Wildflower Meadow


The Thornbury Community Orchard is now on a more formal footing, as we now have a contract with South Gloucestershire Council. There are regular pruning and tree-care sessions, as described on the Orchard page.

What we did in 2015-16

Thornbury's Community Composting saved

Thornbury’s very successful Community Composting site was saved from the threat of closure, at least for the time being, after South Gloucestershire Council proposed to withdraw funding and close the site down to save money.

The composters cut the cost from £130,000 to around £10,000. Their plan still needs Council support until new arrangements can be put into place, and other sources of funding can be found.

The Community Composters have been giving a wonderful service to the gardeners of the Thornbury area for years. They turn tons of local garden waste into valuable compost in a way that is environment friendly. The Composters are also an important part of the success of Thornbury in Bloom.

Alan Pinder of Sustainable Thornbury said, “If the Council pulls the plug to save a few thousand pounds it would be very hard to get things started up again. The Composting team work very hard and they deserve better than this.”

We had front page coverage in the Gazette, and our pressure helped the Council to resolve to support the Thornbury Composters with £10,000 for one year.

Composters protest

Climate March

Bristol Climate March 1

We went on the climate march in Bristol on Sunday 29 November. About 3000 people were there, asking the government and the Paris climate summit to take urgent action on climate change.

Bristol Climate March 2

See more photos.

What we did in 2014-15

After the huge effort to put on the Energy-Smart Homes Trail in the previous year, 2014-15 was quieter. 

We signed a contract with South Gloucestershire Council to manage the Thornbury Community Orchard. A separate Community Orchard Group has taken on this responsibility.   

We supported the proposed M48 Windfarm planning application, but sadly South Gloucestershire Council turned it down in the face of very aggressive local opposition.

What we did in 2013-14

Energy-Smart Homes Trail

We held an open weekend called the Energy-Smart Homes Trail on the weekend of 19th to 20th of October 2013. The event was similar to Bristol Green Doors and Bath Green Homes.13 homes and one community building in the Thornbury and Alveston area opened for visitors. Each had had improvements made to save energy and save money, including:

We also set up a hub, where people could find out about the event, and could get energy advice.

With the help of South Gloucestershire Council we produced a map and postcards, and with a grant from the Energy Savings Trust we set up an Energy-Smart Homes Trail website. We also set up a Facebook page.

There were 89 visits to the 14 properties, and 43 visits to the hub, which is a higher proportion of the local population than visit Bristol Green Doors.

We wrote a full report for our sponsors.

Hotbox workshop

Visitors to the Energy-Smart Homes Trail were interested in our hotboxes, so we held another hotbox workshop on 15 March to make hotboxes. 

Fracking talk

We organised an Ian Page talk on fracking that was attended by local Councillors and Steve Webb MP. Ian talked about the huge difficulty of avoiding pollution, supplying enough water, disposing of the polluted water and financing an inherently unprofitable activity.

Support for M48 Windfarm

We lobbied the Council to support the proposed M48 Windfarm. There has been strong opposition locally.

Happy City

We met with Happy City people in Bristol to consider the possibility of a happiness project in Thornbury. They were impressive and keen to work with us.

The Chantry

We worked with The Chantry Trustees to try and make The Chantry building more energy efficient. This is a community building, difficult to treat as it is historic and listed. We monitored the building and suggested some actions they could take, but unfortunately these came to nothing.

What we did in 2012-13

EcoFair 2012

Our second EcoFair took place on Saturday 19th May 2012, in the historic community-owned Chantry. Open to all, it had a theme of energy choices, showing how we can all do things to move us towards enjoying a low carbon future. 

We put on a wide range of attractions, including activities for both children and adults, indoors and outdoors, a performance space for talks, music, and stories which went on throughout the day. There were stalls to buy sustainable goods and services, demonstrations, information stalls and food and drink. You could even test how economically you could drive on a driving simulator. See also the EcoFair leaflet (PDF 710KB) and poster (PDF 242KB).

The EcoFair was generously supported by South Gloucestershire Council.

Give n Take website

The Give n Take website was launched by the MyThornbury team at the EcoFair. The aim of the website is to advertise to find new homes for unwanted but useful items. Everything is free. It is a similar idea to our Give-It-Away Take-It-Away Days.

The website is a bit like Freecycle or Freegle, but covers only the Thornbury area, so you know all items will be local. This means less travelling to collect things, so if you want you can put on items that are bulky or of low value but usable.

You can see and download the Give n take poster.

Energy project

We planned some work on energy topics, including:-

We worked with the trustees of The Chantry community centre to try and improve the energy efficiency of the building and reduce their fuel bills. We worked with SWEA to find households wanting a free green deal energy assessment. We also looked at local official energy data, put on the web by The Converging World at their Converging World energy hub

What we did in 2011-12

Skills workshops

We held two skills workshop days, following on from the two skills workshops in January and February

The first, on Saturday 21st May, was Skill-up Day, a morning of four workshops on making toiletries, herbs for healing, compost and worm compost and bicycle maintenance. The second, on Saturday 16th July, was a food preservation day, on preserving summer surplus food by bottling and making jams and chutneys.

Waste Group

The Waste Group produced an online Re-use and Recycling Directory, which lists outlets and gives tips and advice on disposing of usable items. They also worked with MyThornbury to set up the Give n Take website to give away useful items, such as old furniture and unawanted electrical goods. This was launched at the 2012 EcoFair

Membership charge

The AGM on May 25th decided to stop charging for membership. The experiment had been worth trying but the AGM agreed we had lost too many members. 

What we did in 2010-11

Fresh local vegetable scheme

Thornbury CSA, the local food scheme, became a separate organisation in April, with its own constitution, membership, committee, bank account and website. It started delivering weekly vegetables in July. 

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, the term used for consumers working with farmers and growers to produce local food. Members collect and weigh their share of the vegetables each week on Thursday 4pm to 7pm at the Sheiling School. The vegetables cost £10 per week or £41 per month for a standard share for two adults, but half shares are available.

EcoFair Saturday 22 May 2010

Our first EcoFair took place on Saturday 22nd May 2010, in the historic community-owned Chantry. Open to all, it was a fun way for all ages to find out about eco-living and the positive choices we can all make towards enjoying a low carbon future. 

We put on a wide range of attractions, including activities for both children and adults, indoors and outdoors, a performance space for talks, music, and stories which went on throughout the day. There were stalls to buy sustainable goods and services, demonstrations, information stalls and food and drink. You could even test how economically you could drive on a driving simulator. See also the EcoFair leaflet (PDF 710KB) and poster (PDF 242KB).

The EcoFair was generously supported by South Gloucestershire Council.

EcoFair Competition - Make a Greetings Card 

We ran a competition to make a greetings card using recycled materials. The closing date for entries was Friday 14th May, and the winner was announced at the EcoFair. Download a poster (PDF 119KB).

Membership charge

The AGM on May 19th decided to start charging for membership, in order to raise funds and make membership mean something. The subscription will be £5 for individuals or £8 for a household per year. 

Give-It-Away Take-It-Away Day

The third Give-It-Away Take-It-Away Day was on Sunday September 19th. A large quantity of assorted items were successfully found new homes instead of going to landfill. We were helped on the day by volunteers from Thornbury Litter-Busters. We very much regret that SITA did not co-operate in disposing of the small quantity left at the end.

Skills workshops

We held the first two skills workshops. The first workshop was on Saturday 22 January and looked at Remodelling your clothes. The second was on Saturday 19 February on making a hotbox for low energy cookery. We held further workshops in the following year.

Waste Group

A Waste Group was set up to look at waste issues, such as a self-supporting alternative to Give-It-Away Take-It-Away Day, and a local online site similar to Freecycle. The group started attending the South Gloucestershire Waste Forum.

Lodge Farm

We responded to a consultation by South Gloucestershire Council, who were considering disposing of the smallholding Lodge Farm. We offered to set up a partnership of community groups to find community uses for some of the land. They agreed to give us until March 2013 to come up with a detailed viable proposal.

Back to the top

What we did in 2009-10

The Age of Stupid, Friday June 19th 2009

Age of Stupid archivistWe showed the new feature film The Age of Stupid on Friday 19th June 2009 at the Cossham Hall in Thornbury. The event was sold out with 120 tickets sold, and we turned a few away. 

The film stars Pete Postlethwaite and is set in 2055. Pete Postlethwaite plays an archivist who is looking back at how stupid people were not to do anything about global warming. See the Age of Stupid website, including a trailer and posters.

After the film show there was a question and answer session with a panel consisting of our MP Steve Webb, Paul Ashford (member of the International Panel on Climate Change), Ian Page (member of International Futures Forum) and Chris Sunderland (Agora).

Download the poster (PDF 592kB) or the handbill (PDF 180kB).

Give-it-Away Take-it-Away day, Sunday June 7th 2009

Give-it-Away day 2008The second Give-it-Away Take-it-Away day was on Sunday June 7th in Rock Street car park in Thornbury. 400 cars came with items to give away. The weather stayed dry until the afternoon when the heavens opened and we packed up.

Talks and Films

We ran a series of free evening film shows and talks in the villages around Thornbury during the autumn and winter of 2009-10. Each event was in a different village with a different programme but all with the theme of "Time to think about the future" and the subjects of climate change and peak oil. Each film or talk was followed by a discussion, so that members of the audience could think about how they could deal with possible futures.

These events were all free, thanks to funding from South Gloucestershire Council, Thornbury Town Council, Alveston Parish Council and the Co-operative Group.

The dates, places and events are given in the handbill (PDF 411kB) or poster (PDF 237kB) with further details.

Local Food

During 2009 -10 our campaign for new allotments in Thornbury and Alveston started to bear fruit. An allotment site was identified in Alveston and a potential site in Thornbury. 

We also found some farming partners at the Sheiling School to start a Community Supported Agriculture scheme, called Thornbury CSA. The scheme became a separate organisation at the end of March 2010.

Back to the top

What we did in 2008-9

We have been campaigning for new allotments in Thornbury and Alveston. The community orchard and grow your own food groups have continued their good work. 

Some members set up a very successful energy neighbourhood, closely watching their energy use to try and find ways to reduce it.

We organised a showing of the film The Power of Community, which looks at Cuba after it lost its oil supplies when the Soviet Union broke up. We also held talks, including:-

Green Economics by Molly Scott cato, about how we could create a more sustainable economy after the credit crunch.

UK Power Generation by Peter Marshall, about the likely shortfall in electricity generation.

Microhydro by Rachel Feilden of the Mendip Power Group, about her 6kw watermill on the Frome in Somerset. 

Peak Oil by Ian Page, about the predicted shortage in oil and uranium production by 2020.

We ran our first Supper and Conversation, a visioning conference with key people in Thornbury. 

We were granted official Transition Initiative status on 11 April 2009. We are listed as initiative number 154. Ben Brangwyn of Transition Towns wrote "Well done for starting off your initiative so long ago and being an inspiration".

We held two Saturday strategy workshops and started social evenings at the coffee shop Blend on Monday evenings.

Give-It-Away Take-It-Away day

In the summer of 2008 we organised Thornbury's first Give-It-Away Take-It-Away day, where local people could give away goods that they did not want any more, and others could just collect anything they wanted. We did this to promote re-use, which is much better than recycling. 
We also supported the newly-established South Gloucestershire Freecycle.

Thornbury became a 'Transition Town' 

Sustainable Thornbury was granted Transition Initiative status. To apply, we had to satisfy strict criteria and complete an application. We officially became a Transition Initiative on the 11th April 2009. The label Transition Initiative is used for what used to be called a Transition Town, because there are now Transition Villages, Transition Cities, Transition Areas and Transition Counties. We are number 154 on the list of all the official transition initiatives in the world.

Ben Brangwyn of Transition Initiatives wrote about Sustainable Thornbury:

"Well done for starting off your initiative so long ago and being an inspiration"

Peak Oil talk - Will the oil run out?

ProductionGraphWill the oil run out? This was the subject on 28th April for Ian Page, who is a former futurist for Hewlett Packard, now a consultant with International Futures Forum. He said that oil production seems likely to decline to nothing for the next few decades while demand will climb sharply if the recession ends. With bio-fuels and more efficient cars we can carry on for a few more years, but the shortage will hit us about 2020. Nuclear electricity will hit a similar shortage of uranium in a decade or two.   

A discussion agreed that we should aim to produce basics such as food more locally, so that we are not dependent on lorries or international trade.

Back to the top

What we did in 2007-8

In the winter of 2007/8 we worked with Thornbury shoppers and traders to reduce the number of flimsy plastic bags given away. We worked with the Chamber of Commerce, the Town Council and Castle School to introduce a Thornbury shopping bag as an alternative. The campaign was a major success - the number of plastic bags given out in Thornbury has gone down dramatically, and now most shoppers carry reusable shopping bags.

We took on running the community orchard opposite The Anchor pub in Thornbury. 

Back to the top

What we did in 2006-7

In our first year we put on a number of talks and film shows about environmental and community issues, including topics such as Nuclear Power and Climate Change, Biofuels and Garden Shed Renewable Energy.  At our regular meetings we had speakers from a wide range of local interest groups such as Bristol Cycling Campaign, Avon Wildlife Trust, Concern for Thornbury,Transport for Greater Bristol as well as general discussions on topics of interest.

We established relationships with local organisations including both Thornbury Town Council and South Gloucestershire Council, two local schools and the Chamber of Commerce. We joined in the first Thornbury FM radio broadcasts and have continued to contribute since.

Members attended ecopsychology and climate change education group meetings. We participated in local events such as the Volunteers Fair,  Christmas Fair,  South Gloucestershire Climate Change Strategy Launch,  Make Poverty History/Climate Change Event. We established ourselves as members of South Gloucestershire Environment Forum.

We set up the Grow Your Own Food self help group for people interested in growing their own food. At the monthly meetings members had advice from local experts on how to get started and on specific topics such as going organic, growing fruit trees & bushes and community composting. The group also made a trip to look at a local allotment.

We ran the Go MAD competition in 2006/7 to help people make their homes more energy efficient, save money and reduce global warming. At the same time we ran the How Low Can You Go? energy reduction challenge for businesses and other organisations.

Back to the top