EVI | Ebbw Vale Institute : Ebbw Vale InstituteEVI | Ebbw Vale Institute : Ebbw Vale Institute

Launch Menu Launch Menu

Category Archive: Biodiversity

  1. Easy Ways To Cut Carbon For The Environment

    Comments Off on Easy Ways To Cut Carbon For The Environment

    This article was written by Thomas Morris during a recent workshop held at the EVI. Community members volunteered themselves to create content focusing on environmental issues. During these video and blogging workshops they were taught the skills to create their own online content. This was all made possible with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Check out the related articles at the bottom of the page.

    It’s tempting to think that it’s someone else’s problem to fix our totally screwed environment. But we all have a responsibility to show the powers-that-be that we care about our planet and the human race’s future existence. I’m going to show you some easy ways to cut carbon in your daily life.

    Rolls of material for cutting carbon article

    Make it your outfit of the day, every day

    Apparently some people only wear an outfit once! Considering the massive amount of energy and resources used by the textile industry, this is a terrible idea! Think about how much money you waste by only using something once. Re-wear all your clothes. Look stylish every day and send a message to fast fashion – this has to stop!

    Move greener

    There are many ways to make your day-to-day travel green. The great thing about greenifying your transport is that it improves the local environment as well as the global. However, this may require some legwork (ha!) in terms of the politics.

    • – Use you car less by using alternative methods of transport when you travel alone
    • – When thinking about moving house, consider the public transport and active transport potential of your location. Let housing developers know that you won’t buy a house if it’s not near a railway station
    • – Write to railway companies to ask for more and better bicycle parking at railway stations
    • – Instead of buying a second car, consider an electric bike
    • – Educate your friends eg. did you know that hybrid cars are not as environmentally friendly as advertisers would like you to think? Many are worse polluters than petrol cars. (but not diesel)
    • – Instead of buying your own car, consider joining a car sharing club for the times when you need a car
    • – Ask the Government to subsidise active and public travel more than they currently subsidise private car travel through cheap fuel, free parking etc.
    • – Work to make streets and towns liveable and walkable – if our hometowns are utopian, we’ll want to go on holidays less and therefore fly less
    Wind farm image for cutting carbon article

    Switch to a green energy tariff

    Whilst all energy on the National Grid is mixed together (they don’t know whether it comes from coal or wind power) you can choose to pay your bills to an energy company that only puts electricity into the grid from sustainable sources. 

    Change to LED and double-glazing

    But not if you already replaced your lights and windows recently. This will save money. This is what the EVI has been doing with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    Take a staycation

    Commit yourself to one return flight a year if you can help it. There are probably plenty of places in the UK that you have never visited. Consider a multimodal bike-on-a-train trip for yourself or pack up a car with your whole family and head somewhere new. 

    You’ll not be contributing to the erosion of famous places like Venice by tourism, and you’ll be contributing your hard earned pounds to British local economies that are often suffering.

    Divest and boycott fossil fuel

    Don’t put money in banks that invest in oil. Ask your school, company etc. to take stocks out of oil. Check what your pension is invested in.

    Prepare when shopping

    If you’re trying to reduce your plastic waste, you need to be prepared when you go shopping. Bring boxes and jars to the shop with you, this way you can buy things loose but keep them clean. You might spend less also by only buying what you came for.

    In order to further reduce car journeys you could consider cycling to the shop or ordering online. Businesses can even consider getting money off a cargo bike through the Energy Saving Trust.

    Steak with red cross over it for cutting carbon article

    Eat local and eat less meat

    Beef in particular is known as a big producer of greenhouse gases. Cutting down on meat such as beef, lamb and pork is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

    However, even a vegan diet can end up costing the Earth if it’s all fresh produce being flown in from overseas. Look for food which is grown in Britain or at least Europe- this may mean adopting a more seasonal diet.

    Teach people how to recycle better

    Help the people around you to do better when it comes to recycling. If you know them well and they trust you then you’ll know how to get on their good side!

    Leave your lawnmower to rust

    Improve local biodiversity by growing your garden wilder- don’t mow or use grass. Here’s why:

    • – Obviously most mowers run on petrol or electricity, so that’s less fossil fuel being used
    • – You’ll be contributing to local biodiversity. In modern cities, bees, butterflies and many other insects will be looking for a place to nest. Your garden of delights – rather than a boring patch of cut grass – provides them with a handy home
    • – Letting your garden grow wild not only helps the planet but also functions as a local carbon sink
    • – Plant wildflowers using seed bombs and have a small pool – perhaps you could use an old tyre and tarpaulin to create a wet area for bugs. We did this at the EVI in our bugs and flower bomb workshop.

    So there you go, hopefully some of the tips above will help you to cut your carbon use and do your bit to help the environment. Just one person cutting their carbon use might not make much difference, but if we all decide to make these small changes then it can make a huge difference.

    Related articles

  2. Creating a Bug Paradise For Biodiversity

    Comments Off on Creating a Bug Paradise For Biodiversity

    At the start of June a group of young people took part in a Wildlife Garden Workshop at the Ebbw Vale Institute. They created bug hotels and seed bombs to help pollinating bugs and improve the area around the building.

    Young people from Llamau, Act Training and Blaenau Gwent Youth Services took part in this special workshop run by Eggseeds, an organisation that delivers outdoor education teaching people about nature and biodiversity. The workshop was organised as part of a series of sustainability measures taking place at the EVI as part of a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    bug houses being painted
    Painting the bug hotels in lovely bright colours

    Vacancies at the Bug Hotel

    The workshop began by building bug hotels, small wooden buildings that can house all kinds of insects and even some birds. These wooden structures will be attached to a big slab of AstroTurf and placed just outside the front of the EVI. This will create a small, elevated street for bugs to thrive in inside the community garden.

    Before the buildings could be made ready for the bugs to move in though, it was time to smarten them up a little to catch the eye of passers-by. The young people got to work by painting the bug houses and bug hotels!

    The inside of the bug houses
    Chalkboard roofs, with straw and bamboo filling

    Attracting the bugs

    “The three taller structures will mainly attract flying insects. Bees, butterflies and lacewings might like to nest inside them” explained Sam from Eggseeds.

    “We stuffed some of the smaller houses full of sawdust with just a few small gaps to get in. This makes it ideal for beetles to burrow through. We added larger round holes to some of the smaller houses too, to make an ideal nesting place for birds.”

    Once painted, the chalkboard roofs (good for writing messages on) were nailed to the buildings with power tools. The houses were then stuffed with sawdust and cut bamboo tubes. Sawdust stuffing creates a malleable environment for insects to burrow and nest inside. Think of all the extra surface area for their tiny bodies to slip into and crawl along. It’s hoped that the bamboo tubes will become a place for bees to lay eggs.

    finished seed bombs
    Seed bombs are a great way of planting wildflowers

    Bombing for blooms

    With the bug buildings looking fantastic it was time to move on to the next activity – creating seed bombs. Seed bombing is an ancient Japanese organic farming technique, a way of seeding which is kinder to the land and protects the seeds from birds and other wildlife. This is a great way to increase biodiversity in your local area. 

    They used seeds that sprout hardy wildflowers. As the seeds are encased inside hard-packed earth, birds can’t easily eat them, giving them time to start growing.

    dirty hands rolling seed bombs
    Getting muddy creating seed bombs

    How to create your own Seed Bombs:

    Step 1: Scoop up some wet clay and mix it with some soil. Roll into a ball and make a dent with your finger

    Step 2: Pick up two or three seeds and drop them into the dent. Any more and the seeds will be competing for resources and won’t grow to their full potensial

    Step 3: Knead the seeds into the centre of the ball

    Step 4: Throw the seed bomb onto any fertile or waste ground and hope that plants will grow

    bug houses in situ
    The bug hotels and houses standing proudly outside the EVI

    Be a wildlife hero

    It doesn’t take much to make a difference to the biodiversity of your local area. Why not take some of the ideas above and create a paradise for birds and insects in your own garden? The participants were really happy with the finished results and headed off home having learnt some valuable skills thanks to the Eggseeds team for all their expertise and hard work.


    This workshop was funded through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme through the WCVA. The EVI received funding to improve energy efficiency at the building, increase the local biodiversity and involving the community through volunteering.

    This is the latest in a series of articles on the many ways we’re promoting sustainability at the Ebbw Vale Institute. Read the others here: