A group of neighbours started cooking food for the whole street in one resident’s oven to cut energy use amid the cost of living crisis. Adam Walters, 50, started the scheme in Walthamstow, east London, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions for the area and build a sense of community.
‘Potato Mondays’, as it is known, sees one person cook enough jacket potatoes once a week on a rota for everyone in the road taking part. Instead of firing up multiple ovens, those joining in the environment initiative cook for everyone else, with the weekly chef then delivering them to their neighbours.
Cooking five potatoes in five ovens, for example, could cost more than £5, whereas using an electric fan oven to cook all five for an hour costs £1.04, under the latest price cap, the group calculated. That means that using this calculation, in a year Potato Mondays could save these neighbours £200 - or £40 each, they said.
And using a microwave instead of an oven for many meals, including jacket potatoes is estimated to be £0.05, as it will take less time than an oven to cook. Mr Walters said: "Central government is simply moving too slowly to act on climate change. We need everyday people to start changing their habits right away.
"I tried to think of a way that we could reduce carbon emissions in our area and teamed up with a neighbour who was also interested in creating a greater sense of community in our local streets."
Adam and his neighbours focused on potatoes so far as they are so easy to prepare and can provide the basis of any meal - but the idea of sharing ovens could be extended to anything people want to cook.
He started by creating a Facebook page and a WhatsApp group called ‘CULE Zone’ (Community Ultra Low Emissions Zone). These forums allowed residents to post practical ideas for collectively reducing carbon emissions in their area.
This led to the creation of ‘Potato Mondays’, with the weekly chef delivering the potatoes to all neighbours who put in a request via a shared Google doc. The group fluctuates in numbers from week-to-week, but can reach as many as 15 neighbours, creating a sense of community, saving their energy bills and cutting carbon, the organisers said.
Residents who are taking part in this scheme are not only enjoying the financial and environmental benefits, but are also enjoying doing this together, the neighbours said. Mr Walters added: "It’s such a simple idea but it works as a quantifiable way to reduce our neighbourhood’s carbon emissions.
"The more people who take part, the less carbon is emitted. It’s so easy to set up and I’d love to see more communities start their own schemes.
"We are saving on our energy bills, reducing carbon emissions and fostering a sense of community - what’s not to like?" Mr Walters said he also wanted to inspire others to start their own schemes.