News & Views

When life throws you lemons…

Alice Doyle06.2015 Clean Air, Community, Education, The C-side Challenge

As part of June’s theme on travel – one of our fab volunteers, Ella Tarlton – shares her first impression of the Big Lemon and reminds us of how great it is.

It’s freshers week 2011; a rainy, windy evening on Sussex campus. All around me, fellow new students are huddled under a bus shelter, crammed in like sardines to avoid the lashing rain. Some are teetering in high heels, others sporting a more casual look, but all of us are ready to paint the town red and enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Brighton for the first time. A Brighton and Hove bus swings into the bus stop. Some people jump on, but an large number of the students stay put. They’re waiting for another bus, even though there was plenty of room on the last one. I look around, puzzled, and notice to my surprise that all those left behind are clutching golden lemons in their hands. I ask a boy stood next to me what the hell is going on. “Don’t you know? Everyone is waiting for The Big Lemon bus. All week you can get free travel if you have a lemon! Here you go,” he says, handing me a lemon with a grin, “I’ve got a spare. Pretty cool, right?”

This is how I remember The Big Lemon. It was little quirks like the freshers week lemon deal that made us fall in love with the service. Run on recycled waste cooking oil from local restaurants, (which releases far less CO2 into the atmosphere than fossil fuels,) The Big Lemon bus is a much loved symbol of our green, forward-thinking City. Yes, we moaned about the smell of chip fat being left in our hair, but the service was popular amongst students and Brightonians alike, providing an alternative, cheap, and Eco-friendly way to get from A to B. So what on earth went wrong? Why did Big Lemon buses seem to disappear off the radar, and how did they manage to regain their rightful place on the streets of Brighton?

It all began in spring 2011 when, after 4 years of service, the company was almost squeezed out of Brighton through the use of predatory pricing policies. Brighton and Hove buses reduced the price of a day saver by 32% on the routes that competed with The Big Lemon, whilst all other fares throughout the city remained unchanged. Though Brighton and Hove buses maintained that this was “coincidental”, sales dropped significantly for their competitor. As a result, Brighton’s traffic commissioner decided to cancel route 42 in February, which was a huge blow to The Big Lemon. Suddenly, the future of the company looked extremely uncertain. I for one remember noticing, with a tinge of sadness, far less yellow buses pass me by. However, thanks to a relentless “Save The Big Lemon” campaign, there was new hope for the company. A petition to the council for fair treatment from other bus companies received over 2000 signatures and there was bountiful press coverage from local newspapers, BBC radio and The Guardian. Local fundraising events, such as LemonAID helped to recuperate funds, and there was much support from the Sussex Student Union.

Thankfully, the hard work paid off. The campaign drew so much support that the service was saved, despite losing many routes. The Big Lemon now operates a shuttle linking Brighton and Sussex campuses with town, as well as Route 52, which runs between Woodingdean and the Old Steine via Ovingdean, Brighton Marina and the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Three journeys a day also serve Brighton Station. Most revenue, however, comes from festival coaches and private hire. Despite the challenges the Big Lemon has faced since those rainy days in 2011, the company has proven to be resilient, giving new life to the old phrase “if life throws you lemons..” This year, alongside many others, I will be travelling to Glastonbury on a Big Lemon bus. If you haven’t sorted out your travel to the festival, you happen to need private coach hire, or you need to get between Woodingdean and the Old Steine, I suggest you consider this wonderful company. After all, the future’s bright, the futures yellow…

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Is the heatwave our new normal?


Alice Doyle07.2015 Clean Air, Community, Health, The C-side Challenge

​As people flock to beaches and parks to enjoy the sunshine, is today’s “hottest day of the year” soon to become the new normal for our British summers?

Its been reported that heat waves in England are now up to 22 times more likely thanks to climate change. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) panel, led by Lord Deben and Lord Krebs, have been urging the government to take more action to prepare for the effects of climate change and introduce more planning to decarbonise our infrastructure. Lord Krebs has said By the 2050s the sort of heatwaves we might experience in the next few days will be the norm, a typical summer.  Bar getting a suntan not seen this side of the Med, what does mean for us as a nation?

The government’s own analysis of the impacts of climate change suggests that climate change could increase the costs of flooding to £10bn a year by 2080, as well as cause more deaths from heatwaves, and large-scale water shortages. Over 700 impacts from rising temperatures have been identified, including the possibility of “climate refugees” arriving from wars over dwindling water and food, threats to forests from new exotic diseases, to affecting our food production as agricultural land and crops struggle to adapt to higher temperatures. With these temperature rises you would also expect a greater incidence of heat stress issues, especially the young, the elderly and the sick, and during heat waves a likely increased pressure on hospitals and potentially increasing death tolls.

Its not so tan-topping abroad either. India is currently recovering from the second deadliest heatwave in the country’s history, which had killed 2,500 people by the start of June. While the small islands of the Pacific, island nations have contributed almost nothing to the problem of rising greenhouse gas emissions, will be among the hardest hit. For the tiny island of Kiribati it may already be too late with President Anote Tong, the president told leaders ahead of the climate change talks taking place in Paris this November, that tides were already forcing villages to relocate. While some low lying Pacific nations such as the Cartaret Islands have been climate refugees for the last decade.

But on the the plus side temperatures soaring as high as 35c this week, will have a significant impact on solar PV. There is set to be a surge in solar energy generation, particularly in the south of the country with generation in London and the south east especially high compared to last year. Also between 2013 and 2014 the renewable energy surge caused an important ‘tipping point’ in fossil fuel emissions: even though both the global economy and energy use grew, there was no matching rise in emissions of carbon dioxide. At a regional level local authorities such as South Cambridge District Council plan to install solar panels on 1,000 additional council houses, adding to the council’s already extensive PV roll-out, whilst the 24% rise in renewable energy coops across the country leads a democratisation of clean and endless energy at fair prices.

If you want to know more about these issues then why not come on our free workshops running later on this year?​ And here are some tips to enjoy the sun while we have it.​

What a load of Rubbish

Alice Doyle07.2015 Community, Events, Projects, The C-side Challenge

This month’s theme as part of the C-Side Challenge, is to talk Rubbish. If you recall the bin strikes, the seagull ripped bin bags strewn across the city revealed just how much Rubbish there is to talk about.

Stats say that there is around 600 million tonnes of products and materials enter the UK economy each year BUT only 115 million tonnes of this gets recycled. Food facts show that we throw away more than 7 million tonnes of food and drink EVERY year from our homes – most of which could have been safely consumed.

As a One Planet Living City the long term aim is “Reducing waste, reusing where possible, and ultimately sending zero waste to landfill”. But how do we achieve Zero Waste?  Zero Waste is a philosophy and design principle that no longer takes the cradle to grave approach, but instead a cradle to cradle or circular economy approach. This includes ‘recycling’ but goes beyond recycling to address the vast flow of resources and waste through human society.

Zero Waste maximizes recycling, minimizes waste, reduces consumption and ensures that products are made to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace. There are some great examples of what people are doing across Brighton and Hove to achieve just this.

Brighton Waste House

Designed by Duncan Baker Brown and with permanent planning permission to remain as a Community Sustainability Centre on Brighton University campus, the materials for the build were sourced locally by Freegle. Discarded construction materials and other unwanted stuff (so called ‘waste': stuff that is not currently recyclable or reusable) was also collected locally from all sectors.

The project has created a model for affordable, good-looking, well-designed housing that can be made from waste. It has involved students, schools, residents, businesses and other community groups and organisations and the waste to evolve a truly lowcarb project.

Magpie Recycling

Magpie Recycling began life in 1990 at Hanover Community Centre.  Three volunteers collected drink cans and glass, plus office paper from a small number of local residents and businesses, including the Universities. Since then Magpie has expanded its range of commercial services to include kerbside advice consultation, a Manufacturing Workshop for electric powered converted milk floats as well as a Furniture Project, where Magpie collect donated furniture free of charge and sell it on at cost to those on low incomes at Shabitat.


New Laines based restaurant Silo, is designed from back to front, always with the bin in mind. The production of waste has been eliminated by simply choosing to trade directly with farmers, using re-usable delivery vessels and choosing local ingredients that themselves generated no waste. The compost machine set inside Silo, turns all of scraps and trimmings directly into a compost used to produce more food… Closing the loop.

If any of these issues are something you would like to learn more about then join one of our FREE workshops running in September. Just This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve a place. Remember waste isn’t waste, it’s just stuff that’s in the wrong place!

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Beans on Toast, the Dalai Lama and a whole lot more..

Alice Doyle07.2015

In case you missed us we were at Glastonbury running our lock up.

One of our fab volunteers, had such a great time she wrote a blog all about it. By Fran Romberg.

Glastonbury Festival is an event that needs no introduction. It’s a euphoric fiesta of music, arts, friendship, protest, peace and happiness that attracts hundreds of thousands of people of all different ages and backgrounds. Although the Foo Fighters unfortunately couldn’t make it we at the Brighton Peace and Environment Centre could! It’s the biggest event on our calendar here at Brighton Peace and Environment Centre and we were out in force providing coach services from Brighton and London and property lock up’s at the festival. Here’s our run down of our experience at the festival.

Our coach service using the Big Lemon was as popular as ever and this year we launched our service from London, which was a fantastic success! The Big Lemon Coaches are the perfect alternative to travelling by car as it’s more eco-friendly to travel on one big coach than lots of individual cars and the Big Lemon coaches are run on recycled chip oil. Taking care of the environment is one of the central themes of Glastonbury Festival and we aim to encourage people to continue this outside of the festival too.

We also help run several of the property lock ups on site. It’s an extremely useful service where festivalgoers can drop off their valuables and we take care of them- for free! Leaving you to have some good old worry free fun! At the lock ups you can also get free toilet paper, challenge 21 wristbands to use as ID at the bars and charge your phone for the bargain price of £3. Our team of volunteers did an incredible job and helped make many people’s festival experience stress free so a huge well done and thank you to all those involved.

The rest of the festival also featured many events, activities and experiences, which fit in with our ethos at BPEC. The Green Futures Field featured a plethora of activities and information dedicated to creating a global consciousness for solving environmental problems including up-cycling workshops, a solar powered stage and a permaculture garden.

The Left Field tent was host to a variety of radical speakers, debates and musicians talking about important issues such as TTIP and feminism. Pussy Riot was there and was even introduced by our favourite songstress turned activist Charlotte Church!

The Greenpeace area was also a must-visit, revolving around an ocean theme highlighting issues facing our waters such as over fishing, pollution and conserving the Great Barrier Reef. It was home to a giant trawler that really put into perspective the destructive capacity of these boats.

Shangri-La featured some excellent political artwork this year as the hedonistic haven hosted an election theme. Beans on Toast gave an excellent political performance there that is worth checking out if you can.

Last but not least of course was His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself turning up to give two talks sharing his wisdom on compassion, friendship and peace. If you missed it there are links available online.

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Cat Fletcher talks Rubbish

Alice Doyle07.2015 Business, Community, Education, Events, The C-side Challenge, Uncategorised

Did you know that in Brighton and Hove our recycling rate was 25.2% last year while the national average is 42%? And the council spend £26 million a year of the city budget on household waste services. With 75% of all our rubbish going to landfill, there is much we can do across the city to reduce, reuse and recycle.

As part of this month’s theme on waste we are running our second Conversation Cafe on Tuesday 21st July at the Marwood. The aim is to engage people around the theme of Reuse and the Circular Economy, and also to recruit to our two Autumn Carbon Conversation workshops as part of our C-Side Challenge.

The event will be led by Cat Fletcher, a waste and reuse activist behind Freegle, the internationally acclaimed Brighton Waste House and also the more recent Reuse Depot.

The structure for the event will run 6.00-7.30. Cat will give a 20 minute talk and then in small groups discussion will be led on:
1 Reasons for Reuse as opposed to recycling.

2 What opportunities and networks exist to reuse, to be part of the sharing and circular economies in Brighton and Hove.

3 How to reduce your carbon footprint, and save you time and money.

The event will be held at the Marwood Cafe and there will be free tea and cake for all that participate. Why not come along and be part of the Conversation?

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