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Suffolk's Greenest County Awards are back and columnist Peter Gudde is encouraging nominations

So, they are back after three years away and it’s a big year. Marking 10 years since they were established, the Suffolk – Creating the Greenest County Awards 2019 were launched last month. They recognise environmental excellence in Suffolk and are a way to provide inspiration for change across the county.

Much of the hard work to improve environmental performance goes under the radar for various reasons which I have talked about on many other occasions. Being seen to be green used to be either a badge of self-sacrifice or perceived to be simply out of step with social norms.

Some of the less supportive media have also been very selective about their appetite to get behind an environmental cause. Certainly, litter and single use plastic have been stock media campaigning fodder recently.

Renewable energy is boosting the county's 'Gren' credentials (9159610)
Renewable energy is boosting the county's 'Gren' credentials (9159610)

But challenging energy, water or travel behaviours are topics that struggle to gain mainstream press attention let alone capture positive attention. Maybe it’s because the whole efficiency thing is simply a boring topic to a lot of people, while solar or wind power are like Marmite – either loved or loathed. As for the challenge with changing travel habits, whether for work or play, it’s probably more about freedom to exercise personal choice or the fact that the local public transport alternatives are poor, more expensive or, in the absence of safe cycle ways, seen as an activity for the dedicated few. Yet, these are areas where all parts of Suffolk society need to learn from those who are following lower impact ways of doing things and awards help by highlighting the fact that the green ‘best in show’ can make a difference.

Opening up the possibilities to all rather than being about the environmental sector looking inwards is really important; and being local allows people to hear about what’s happening in their neighbourhood. What awards should do is provide much-needed exposure that the green alternative is both possible and, in many cases, a practical and viable alternative. They are also about demonstrating leadership whether that’s individual’s dedication or an organisation’s systematic change in the way they do business.

Entries are invited now for your nominations across a really wide range of categories covering individuals, businesses, communities, schools and voluntary organisations as well as products, services, food and drink buildings and topics like waste recycling and reduction, and sustainable travel.

This year the number of award categories has grown to 13. My personal favourite is the Green Hero Award and I look forward to seeing who has been nominated. They may not have the super power to be quite up there with the Marvel Comic heroes, but just for a while Wolverine and Spider-Man can make way for an environmentally-conscious buddy, who has inspired others and contributed to the quality of life in Suffolk.

With the closing date extended to May 20, why not nominate your own green hero, business or community, by visiting www.greensuffolk.org/awards/

The results will be announced in July.

-- Peter Gudde is an energy advisor and environmental researcher