Behind the closed doors of Merton’s living rooms, an army committed to a fight against climate change is mobilising.

Two years ago a small group of frustrated environmentalists got together to work out how the borough could do more to protect the environment.

At first, gaining support for their project was slow, with most cynical about the pressing need to protect the environment.

But now community groups, business and most of the schools across the borough are embracing Sustainable Merton’s aim of embracing a low-carbon future.

Earlier this month, infront of hundreds of supporters at Wimbledon Odeon, Merton was declared a “Transition Town” and joined a pioneering global network of communities where residents make a concerted effort to reduce their reliance on oil.

The aim is to tackle a lack of action against climate change from governments on a national level by altering habits and lifestyles locally.

Already, Sustainable Merton has helped Wimbledon Park become the first area in London to go plastic-bag free and the group is taking a lead role as the National Trust build a sustainability centre in Morden Hall Park - believed to be only the second facility in the country dedicated to teaching visitors how to protect the environment.

And as people wake up to the dangers facing the planet, the group is intent on implementing more initiatives to help everyone in Merton adopt a greener lifestyle.

Sustainable Merton’s co-founder, Tom Walsh, said: “There’s been a sea-change in attitude towards climate change over the last two years. To begin with people listened to the arguments of sceptics like George Bush out of convenience.

“But it’s become increasingly difficult to ignore the facts that continue to be exposed.

"Scepticism has been replaced by a realisation that there is a vacuum of knowledge over what’s happening to the planet and recent events like the break down of the banking system has shown that nothing is impregnable.

"People are questioning things more.”

He added: “More and more people in Merton have woken up to the reality of what’s going on, and all we’re trying to say is don’t wait until this becomes a crisis but respond to it as a challenge.”

On the horizon, plans are afoot to expand the borough’s plastic-bag free zones and get residents growing more of their own food.

The group has carried out research suggesting that more than 50 per cent of food consumed by residents is flown in from overseas.

But as part of ambitious proposals, large swathes of uncultivated green space could soon be used for home growing projects.

The group is already preparing a piece of land on the Phipps Bridge, donated by the National Trust, that will allow local residents to start growing fruit and veg for their own use this spring.

Tom added: “We need to create a culture of self-help but at the moment a whole generation has no idea about something like food growing and we want to address the balance in Merton.

"Looking after the environment in this way is also a social activity.”

Yet despite support from the environmental department of Merton Council, Sustainable Merton is struggling to attract meaningful Government grants.

Instead an increasing number of people are paying the modest subscription to join the group and local schools are requesting help in setting up green initiatives.

Tom said: “We’re finding that the young people we visit have a startling awareness of the issues. They’re the future so it gives us a large degree of hope.”

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