Lowimpact.org is founded as the ‘Low-impact Living Initiative’ (LILI – hence our lily logo), a not-for-profit organisation, by two members of Redfield Community. The community itself was founded in 1978 as a registered housing co-op with 18 acres, and by the late 90s had solar hot water, compost loos, straw-bale buildings, organic gardens, orchards, soft fruit, bees, sheep, chickens, natural paints, lime, wood stoves, and one member was experimenting with making biodiesel from waste cooking oil. We wondered if anyone else might be interested in learning about the things we were experimenting with. We started running courses in the things that we were doing.
The courses sold out, so we developed a bigger course programme and started to add information on our topics of interest to our website. We also ran events with the National Energy Foundation, helping people to build their own solar hot water systems.
We started to run one-day courses in partnership with city farms in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
We took over the day-to-day running of WWOOF UK, matching up organic farms and smallholdings with volunteers.
We started publishing books on several of our topics of interest.
We moved out of Redfield Community, and the team started working remotely (but we retain strong links – Dave and his partner got married there in 2017).
We stopped running our own courses and became a network of low-impact organisations and an information hub for our ever-growing range of topics. This includes a directory of low-impact businesses, plus introductory information, books, articles, links, courses, magazines, products & services and specialist advisors to answer queries on all our topics. We started to develop our programme of online courses.
We built a new website and changed our name to Lowimpact.org. WWOOF UK went their own way (due to changes in EU VAT law, it became financially beneficial to employ staff directly), much stronger than when we came together. We wish them well – they’re a great bunch of people doing a wonderful thing.
We registered as a workers’ co-operative, with three workers, four associate advisors and a range of other specialist advisors. We also launched our Youtube channel, where we interview key people working in sustainability and the new economy.
Here’s our theory of change.