It is well-known that tourism: as long as it is sustainable: makes a great contribution towards alleviating poverty and creating a brighter future for young people. It is when tourism becomes uncontrolled and overburdens the land that it does more harm than good.
North Oxfordshire makes it easy to travel sustainably. Many of the businesses in the region have an identifiable sustainability and communities’ policy, guided by the high standards maintained by the district council of Cherwell. In the process, a better foundation has been laid down for the future of young people in the district. There are several areas in which North Oxfordshire has been successful in this regard.
The district’s farmers’ markets are big stalwarts and promoters of sustainability. Behind the rows of produce at the Banbury Farmers’ market, the customers and the vendors, there is a highly sustainable hub. Local farmers deliver fresh, seasonal and locally grown food to the vendors. Residents in North Oxfordshire have higher demands for healthy and environmentally friendly foods. In this way, the farmer, his family and his children are able to make a living off sustainably grown food. At the same time, local communities are able to find and buy these products through the outlets of the farmers’ markets. Families, and subsequently children, have easier access to such healthy foods now.
Farmers that sell to these markets minimize the amount of pollution and waste that they create. One of the reasons for this is that many farmers use certified organic practices of farming. This means, fewer amounts of chemical pollutants and pesticides leach into the soil and water.
Many of these small farmers also promote low impact practices like on-site composting.
Many modern farm-to-table restaurants like Vaults and the Garden Cafe in Oxford also source their ingredients directly from farms, small suppliers and foragers. Often, restaurants buy the farm surplus, leftover after farmers’ markets have already purchased their stock. In this way, waste is minimized.
There is also the question of sustainability in meat production for the food industry. The Oxford restaurant addresses this issue by offering a larger vegan food menu, encouraging takeaway to reduce waste and sourcing their meat from humane butchers.
The region’s high rate of waste recycling, support for small and organic farms and other agro-businesses, high food safety standards and other factors also make it easier for visitors to travel responsibly. There is a high level of education and awareness created by the proactive district council about waste disposal and recycling in the district.
There are figures to support this. The council collects kitchen waste, garden waste, recycling and household waste from the kerbs of 58,000 properties across the district on a fortnightly basis. These properties include self-catering cottages, bed and breakfasts and holiday rentals. With the encouragement of the council, Cherwell residents recycled 57 percent of their waste in 2016. This puts Cherwell at the top of the recycling ratings among districts in the country.
Schools, businesses, households have learned to carefully segregate their waste into blue, brown and green bins. The elderly can get assistance with waste disposal. The council also offers a free collection service for residents who have a medical condition and want help with collecting dialysis waste, soiled dressings, incontinence pads etc.
Children learn to recycle in schools and at home. Since children are the leaders of the future, the difference to their lives has already been made through education and example.
But child poverty has been a concern in Oxfordshire in the past. Therefore it is heartening to see authorities take on initiatives like the workshops for Brighter Futures in Banbury. One of the issues addressed by the most recent installments of these workshops was child poverty.
Participants included the Child Poverty Action Group, along with other organizations who work in this area, businesses and educators. An action plan to focus on employability and educational attainment is being worked on as a result of the workshop.
These are a few of the initiatives and positive steps that North Oxfordshire is taking, which we can all learn from. Such efforts also attract travelers who want to travel responsibly. In this way, there is a wholesome relationship between the residents of the district, tourists and the communities being built for the future.