Voluntary Action Harrow – a workers cooperative supporting community activities across West London – has received a grant worth £9,375 from Harrow Council to fund their electronic repair initiative: Harrow Sustain IT.
The grant was awarded to mark the launch of the Harrow Reuse Directory. An online directory created by Groundwork London and Harrow Council, offering a free platform for local sustainable businesses to promote themselves while allowing ethically-minded consumers to more easily find environmentally-friendly businesses in their local area.
The UK is the world’s second highest producer of e-waste per capita, Harrow Sustain IT aims to tackle this issue on a local level by fixing unused laptops, to be donated onto local charities and voluntary organisations. It also runs repair workshops to teach others to do the same.
With England missing its target to recycle 50% of household waste by 2020, now more than ever it is crucial that local authorities and communities work in tandem to tackle the UK’s waste problem. Increasingly, local authorities are taking environmental issues into their own hands.
After declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the grant and directory are a continuation of Harrow Council’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis by engaging the local community and taking a circular economy approach to waste.
Alongside tackling pollution and waste, Harrow Sustain IT aims to address the digital divide in the UK. 1.5 million (5% of) households in the UK currently only have access to a mobile internet connection at home.
Voluntary Action Harrow’s Operations Director, Rachel Wright said: “With Harrow Sustain IT we’re taking a two-pronged approach to the problem, we’re working to reduce e-waste and our collective carbon footprint by reducing the amount of laptops being discarded, while also helping people from disadvantaged communities by providing them with a refurbished laptop.”
Initiatives like Sustain IT are helping pave the way to a more circular economy model. The shift towards repairing and reusing goods will not only benefit the planet, but also represents a significant economic and social opportunity.
At a time where many workers are facing significant risks to their jobs due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, studies show that a shift to a circular economy could create almost half a million new jobs in the UK.
Groundwork London’s Director of Communities and Environmental Services, Katrina Baker said: “Groundwork London is excited to be working alongside Harrow Council to provide a self-managing platform for green businesses wanting to increase their profile. Sustainability is the heart of our work, so we want to build the capacity of businesses already contributing to the circular economy and give them a dedicated space to promote their services.”