Forty years of changing the world

Sheffield Friends of the Earth 'Smog Busting' in London Road to highlight the dangers of air pollution. The stunt was used to highlight support for the Road Traffic Reduction Bill. March 1996.
Sheffield Friends of the Earth 'Smog Busting' in London Road to highlight the dangers of air pollution. The stunt was used to highlight support for the Road Traffic Reduction Bill. March 1996.

As a two year old child in 1974 my attention wasn’t focused on the OPEC oil crisis, nuclear testing or the energy shortages caused by the three-day week.

But for Jude Warrender and other concerned residents, these issues inspired the birth of Sheffield Friends of the Earth.

During my childhood, the group successfully campaigned to clean up our rivers, save endangered wildlife and protect peat bogs.

Motivated by their work, some 18 years later, I joined the group so I could protect bees and support clean energy. Now, 40 years on from the inaugural meeting, we are hosting a party at The Showroom to celebrate our achievements.

The first part of the evening will look at our victories which have created green jobs and more solar power.

I’m sure our campaigns to fit catalytic converters to cars and removing lead from petrol has improved the quality of Sheffield’s air. There’s progress too with the ozone layer – it seems to be recovering after we campaigned to phase out CFCs in the 80s.

We’ve played our part in transforming recycling from a fringe to a mainstream activity.

In the 70s we went from recycling 7 tonnes of glass per collection to providing a door step recycling service in the 80s. We couldn’t have done this without the help of Barney the horse from Heeley City farm and later an electric milk float.

In 1989 we helped Sheffield to become an official “Recycling City” with collections to 3,300 homes by a social enterprise.

In the noughties, collections were rolled out to all households because we had successfully encouraged our politicians to pass the Household Waste Recycling Act.

After my home was devastated in the 2007 floods I was pleased to see that our Big Ask climate change campaign had persuaded the government to introduce the 2008 Climate Change Act. It requires the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

It’s impossible to mention everything we have done, so why not join us on Thursday 16th October to find out more?

It’s a unique opportunity to hear Friends of the Earth’s national director, Andy Atkins, who is joining us to give his vision for the future.

The finale will be letting our hair down and celebrating the last 40 years with live music and a party.

To buy tickets or to find out more about our work visit our website at
 www.sheffieldfoe.co.uk