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. However, cycling can often feel daunting, specially if you don’t know the best or safest route to get to your destination. That’s why Better By Bike have created a great route planner tool, which can help you plan your bike journey and allows you to cater it to your needs. They provide useful information like estimated cycling time, level of incline and decline, as well as allowing you to choose faster or quieter routes.
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 bus timetables below to find out about the buses that operate near Alveston and Charfield. Bus times can change, so make sure to check the travel line website for the most up to date information. It is important to note that not all stops are listed on the timetables, but all the buses listed below stop near Alveston and Charfield. 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.
Local Bus Timetables
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 active travel storage
We have already installed new scooter storage, allowing children to park their scooters whilst at nursery and are planning on installing a new additional storage area, providing a dry space for 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.
Park and Stride
We understand many of you need your cars for work, which is why we are creating a park and stride scheme, to encourage active travel. Rather than leaving your car at home, this way you can park a few minutes away from nursery and walk the last little bit –you still get you to use your car, but it will help reduce local air pollution around the nursery, whilst also promoting active travel among the children. To help you we have created some 5-minute walking maps so you can find out where you can park and walk to nursery from. If you live within the zone and want to do even more, why not leave your car at home and walk all the way to nursery. To encourage you to walk or scoot the last few minutes, we will be giving out stickers to all children who have walked/ scooted to nursery.
We want to thank everyone who took the time to fill out the travel survey that was sent out in the spring of 2021. The results and comments we received were very insightful and have helped us to establish several sustainable travel targets, including increasing the number of children scooting to nursery and getting a few parents to sign up to a car sharing scheme. So you can follow us on our journey and see why we are taking the initiatives we are we will be publishing all the data we collect, including the travel surveys, which you can find below.