Natural Choice Nurseries has recently embarked on a mission to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. As part of that mission, we have signed up with Modeshift STARS to support our effort to increase levels of sustainable and active travel – improving the health and well-being of our children, staff, and environment. Follow along here, to find out about the new initiatives we are launching and our progress with the Modeshift STARS award scheme.
Active Travel and Public Transport
Active travel (walking and cycling) can have a myriad of benefits, for people’s health, wellbeing, and the environment. The transport sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK (27%), and therefore a leading cause of the climate crisis. If we are to tackle the climate crisis, it is essential to change the way we travel. That could be through switching to electric vehicles, but this fails to address other transport related issues, such as congestion, lack of green spaces or pedestrian unfriendly towns and cities. Since cars are stationary for the vast majority (95%) of their lifespan, by having few cars and utilizing active travel more, we can free up space for wildlife, children to play and social areas. More green spaces can even help keep cities cool and reduce the risk of flooding.
Cars are significant source of harmful air pollutants (e.g., carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter 10 and 2.5). Air pollution causes between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year in the UK as well as having various health effects. Surprisingly, cycling to school has been shown to reduce the exposure of kids to harmful air pollutants, when compared to walking and driving. This is because the pollutants released by other vehicles on the road are trapped within cars, turning it, essentially, into a ‘toxic box’. As well as helping to reduce air pollution, meaning we all get to breathe cleaner air, active travel has significant benefits for our physical health – ensuring we stay active and get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week. Staying active has been documented to reduce the risk of many serious illnesses.
Walking and cycling has also been shown to be great for mental health. Cycling to work has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and even help you feel calmer as it promotes mindfulness and focusing on the moment. Whilst walking can improve your sleep and reduce your risk of depression by as much as 30%. Walking through green spaces has additional benefits, helping you feel more relaxed, lead to increased confidence and self-esteem, as well as allowing you to reconnect to the natural world.
If you live too far away to walk or cycle to nursery/ work, why not try public transport (once it’s safe to do so after COVID – check out the government advice here). Taking the local bus, will not only reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions (half of the emissions of a single occupancy car journey), but can also reduce congestion on the roads – . Furthermore, as more and more buses are electrified, emissions will drop even further. Public transport is also linked to better physical health, with the walk to and from bus stops accounting for up to half of the recommended weekly exercise.
Check out the different bus timetables for Alveston and Charfield using the travel line website. The two closest bus stops in Alveston nursery are, Alveston Down Post Office and Davids Lane on Gloucester Road. The closest bus stop to Charfield nursery are Charfield Primary School and Charfield Hill Crossroads.
Air pollution is a major concern in the UK and is responsible for between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year. Engine idling – leaving an engine running whilst a vehicle is stationary – is a well-known contributor to air pollution as it increases the quantity of harmful pollutants in the air. Theses pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulate matter (especially PM2.5), can have significant negative impacts on the planet and people’s health. Long-term exposure to these harmful pollutants has been shown to cause respiratory conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and lung cancer, as well as development problems in children, low birth weight and dementia.
A study conducted by TRL, found that turning your engine off and restarting it rather than idling for 30 seconds can halve the amount of harmful pollutants released. The pollution from idling is highly localized, especially around schools and main roads with high foot traffic. Idling action days have been shown to reduce the total amount of pollution children are exposed to on their journey to school.
To combat idling in our car parks we are putting up more anti-idling signs as well as posters at the entrances to the nurseries, reminding staff and parents to turn off their engines as soon as possible.
Cycle maintenance sessions
Are you unsure how to repair your bike if something goes wrong whilst out on the road? Do you want to learn how to maintain your bike, so it is always in tip top shape? To promote cycling to work and nursery, the nursery will be offering quarterly bicycle maintenance, with both staff and parents eligible to sign up. The course will be delivered by one of our directors – Fred Edwards – who is an avid cyclist and engineer. The course will equip you with the skills to repair and maintain your bike at home and on the road with just a few basic tools. Unfortunately, due to COVID, we are unable to run these sessions this quarter, but sign up for June will be available soon.
New scooter storage
We are planning on installing a new storage area, providing a dry space for scooters, buggies, and bikes. This new storage area will be available for staff, children, and parents. The hope is, that with enhanced storage areas it will help promote more active forms of transport.
We have created new 5 -minute walking maps for both Alveston and Charfield. The 5-minute walking zone is designed to encourage parents who live within the zone to walk to nursery rather than drive. We are also trying to promote parents who live further away, to park and stride the last few minutes to nursery. The aim is to help shift modal patterns away from travelling by car to more active forms of transport – to reduce local air pollution and improve public health. We hope to start putting stickers around the walking zone to make it easier for you to see where it begins.