Green Centre puts down roots in Brighton's Open Market!

A community project which has inspired hundreds of people across Brighton & Hove to reduce, reuse and recycle and become more environmentally aware, is looking forward to expanding its work – thanks to a new permanent home.

After setting up in 2005 and working from a broken pasting table, moving to a donated car and spending eight years at premises in Manor Hill before being made ‘homeless’ in 2017, members of the Green Centre have taken over a unit at Brighton’s Open Market, in partnership with Cat Fletcher, founder of Freegle and Brighton Reuse Centre.

Council funding

Working with Brighton & Hove City Council’s sustainability officers and supported with a Carbon Reduction grant from the council’s Communities Fund, the team took over the premises late last year.

Volunteers are now busy working behind the scenes to create a space to run waste and recycling workshops alongside educational events and activities.

The group has also recently bought an electric van to support ts activities, which the council has funded for the first year.

Great location!

Green Centre Creative Director Melanie Rees said: “After running a weekly stall collecting materials for recycling in the Open Market over the past few years, we know it’s a great location for us, so it’s fantastic to have moved into a permanent home.

“We were so excited when we picked up the keys in December, but then came the Boxing Day lockdown!”

Despite being unable to open to the public until recently, volunteers have been keeping busy.

Melanie said: “We were limited in what we could do, but we started by clearing the unit, led by Cat, making sure we reused or recycled everything. We also started work on building our ‘zero-waste lab’ in the courtyard.”

The group recently launched a successful Crowdfunding campaign which raised £3,500 towards building the lab, which will provide space to process recycling collections, run more workshops and activities and offer other groups opportunities to share their work.  

Pooling resources

Melanie added: “Having a permanent base means we can work together with other organisations, pool our resources and make our services more efficient and available on one site.

"We also have a huge backlog of recycling to work through that residents have been collecting during lockdown!”

When the unit fully opens, the Green Centre will offer a mix of education, retail and workshops with each day having a different theme.

Monday will be Environmental Education Day, hosted by One Planet Living expert Alice Doyle – when members of the public can pick up information and learn how making small changes can have a big impact on the environment. Local groups will be given the opportunity to promote their services.

Tuesday will be the Green Centre’s Reuse Day, while Wednesday afternoon will be Smarter Uniform Day, when school uniforms can be donated and reused or recycled.

Thursday is already Recycling Day when members of the public can drop off a range of materials to be recycled.

This trial service is currently being run on a ‘ticket only’ basis to avoid queues and observe social distancing rules but, as Covid rules relax, there will be more opportunities to drop off recycling.

Friday will be ‘Freegle Friday,’ run by Cat Fletcher while Saturday will be retail day, when shoppers can stock up on a range of environmental products.

Fantastic initiative

Councillor Amy Heley, chair of the council’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability  committee, said: “It’s great to see The Green Centre now firmly established in the city with its new home in the Open Market.

“I’m proud that we have been able to help fund this fantastic initiative, which will not only support residents in their efforts to reuse and recycle but also provide a platform for other environmental groups to raise awareness and educate the public on healthy and sustainable lifestyles.”

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