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Category Archive: Sustainability

  1. Easy Ways To Cut Carbon For The Environment

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    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.

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  2. Planting Trees To Save the World?

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    This article was written by Jamie Lee 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.

    Deforestation is the most unacknowledged environmental issue that needs to be recognised. The loss of trees and other vegetation can result in a plethora of concerning problems to the world and to our planet.  

    These problems include: 

    • – Climate change 
    • – Flooding 
    • – Increased greenhouse gases 
    • – Desertification 
    • – Habitat Destruction 
    Image of tree with text saying "Planting Trees Can Save The World"

    Climate change 

    According to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, deforestation accounts for more than 18% of all global emissions. That is more than the global emissions from all transport- outrageous! 

    Flooding 

    It also found that deforestation could increase the risk of flooding. Vegetation absorbs and intercepts water to balance water levels. 

    The South Wales Valleys are made up of impermeable rocks (sandstone in particular, which is popular with climbers), which increase the surface run off. This can result in floods.  

    Increase in greenhouse gases 

    Cutting down trees results in an imbalance of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere. This means that there is a rise in carbon dioxide levels. This contributes to global warming and the disruption of habitats from climate change.  

    Desertification 

    Deforestation is the main cause of the loss of vegetation in areas, thus creating a desert in what was once fertile land. This also destroys wildlife and the homes of animals. 

    Conclusion 

    It is evident that the impact trees have on the environment is major in regards to maintaining a sustainable world. Imagine a world with no trees and the detrimental outcomes that would bring. We can all make a difference. Help us allow the world to flourish.  

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  3. The Ultimate Guide To Sustainabili-TEA

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    This article was written by Victoria Williams 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.

    We all aim to be eco-friendly and make a positive impact on our Earth, but did you know that by drinking your regular brew you could be doing more damage than good? 

    Why’s this? Whilst Britain is the third-most tea-drinking country in the world (just behind Turkey and Ireland), that tea is not homegrown. Most of it comes from Africa (especially Kenya), Sri Lanka, India and China. This means a lot of travel-time for our favourite hot drink. 

    What’s more is that the bags often contain plastic and do not compost properly- thus the millions we consume each day generally go to landfill. And that’s before we even think about all the extra electricity needed to power a million kettles at half time when the football’s on.    

    According to the BBC’s Climate Change Food Calculator, drinking a few cups a day, every day, for a year emits 30kg of carbon a year- as much as driving a petrol car 78 miles. The good news is that’s not nearly as bad as the equivalent amount of coffee, beer or wine.  

    An eco-conscious cuppa

    But there are some companies who are trying to make a difference. If you want to make a more sustainable choice when it comes to your favourite brew then take a look at the list below.

    1. The Cornish Tea Company  

    Box of Cornish Tea for sustainabili-TEA article
    Image from Cornish Tea Co

    Buying and using tea bags is something you just have to do if you want to drink tea. In order to help the environment switch to biodegradable bags. Cornish Tea’s signature “fusion bags” feature a variety of flavors and the bags are created from 100% biodegradable cornstarch. 

    Teapigs logo for Sustainabili-TEA article
    Image from teapigs

    2. Tea Pigs 

    Another sustainable brand is Tea Pigs. They create a wide variety of flavors for every mood and situation. They believe tea should be pure and simple, and they keep it this way by never adding anything harmful. Their packaging is 100% plastic free and they are the brand first brand to be awarded the Plastic Free Trust Mark. 

    Clipper logo for Sustainabili-TEA article
    Image from Clipper

    3.Clipper Tea 

    Clipper is a natural and completely organic brand. They’re guided by organic principles and are committed to being GM-free whilst using ingredients from non-GM sources. The brand itself focuses on constantly finding new ways to be natural. 

    Numi logo for Sustainabili-TEA article
    Image from Numi Tea

    4.Numi Teas 

    From Numi Tea 

    Numi delivers on every aspect when it comes to sustainability. Not only are their ingredients 100% real coming straight from the plants but they also feature sustainable packaging. They also make donations to offset their carbon emissions and support environmental nonprofits.   


    So, there you have it, the best brands to allow you to enjoy a cup of tea free from environmental guilt. Enjoy!

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  4. 5 Things You Can Do To Help The Earth

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    This article was written by a volunteer from 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.

    There are many ways to help the Earth. Some are efficient, and some are not.  This blog will show you the most efficient ways to help the Earth along with the reasons why they are efficient. 

    1. Getting serious about water 

    We use water everyday in our lives, some people use it more than others but that doesn’t matter.  If there are any noticeable leaks in your home then make sure to fix them as soon as possible to prevent any water loss and to improve your local environment. 

    Another essential thing you could do with the water in your household is to turn off any taps that are being unused. For example, some people leave the tap on while they are brushing their teeth – wasting water that could otherwise be put to good use. 

    Tips to save water from the Energy Saving Trust.

    2. Installing smart technology

    Installing a smart meter in your home will let you keep track of the energy you’re using and it’s cost. Seeing how much energy your actually using might encourage you to make changes and cut down on your energy use. A smart meter connects through your Wi-Fi connection and sends your energy usage to your supplier meaning you don’t have to submit energy readings yourself. This gives you a more accurate bill based on the energy you’re using rather than a guesstimate.

    Installing a smart thermostat can also help you cut down on your energy costs. This allows you to control the heating in your home through an app on your phone; you can be at work and connect to your smart thermostat to turn the heating down at home.

    Further information about smart meters and technology – Energy Saving Trust

    3. Energy efficient light bulbs 

    We all use light bulbs- we couldn’t see inside many internal rooms without them.  A way to help the environment is to use LED light bulbs instead of the old tungsten bulbs.  LED light bulbs are more efficient, can be easily replaced, last longer and they shine brighter too! 

    The lighting at the EVI has been replaced with LED thanks to funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Find out more here.

    4. Installing solar panels 

    Another way we can get energy is from the sun via solar panels.  Solar panels take heat and light from the sun and convert it to energy for our everyday usage.  Solar panels don’t produce energy at night due to there being no sun but energy that isn’t used during the day can be stored in batteries to be used during the night, or if there isn’t enough you can get still get your energy from the grid if you need it. Any solar energy you don’t use can be sold to the grid, which can make you a little money.

    Check out this How Solar Power Works in the UK information from uSwitch.

    5. Recycle and reuse 

    Recycling is a must if we want to save the Earth.  Recycling itself uses energy, so re-using is better where possible. There are two simple things you can do to start – reuse bottles to drink out of and ask your local council to add more recycling bins around town so that the oceans and local wildlife habitats can stay safe and clean. 

    You might find some ideas to reuse everyday items from this list on Recycling Guide – like using old clothes to create cushions or donating old egg cartons to schools.

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  5. 5 Steps To Live a More Sustainable Life

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    This article was written by a volunteer from 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.

    In 2019 due to rapid population growth and urbanization, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70% from 2016 levels to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050.

    However times have changed and people have found amazing new ways to sustain the life we live and it may even change the future of humanity.

    Plastic

    Plastic pollution is a massive concern, polluting our oceans and harming wildlife. However major influencers like YouTuber Jeffree Star and other celebrities have become aware of the situation and are committed to making a difference. Star has released a metal straw that is reusable and eco friendly (compared to plastic straws, which can’t be re-used).

    Heating

    By using the heating system in our home, we increase the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. Most people have central heating systems in their homes and use them throughout the day. Everyone can reduce their use of their heating by wrapping up warm and putting on layers of clothing.

    Transport

    In 2019 it is calculated that over 79 million cars were sold. Though many people have cars, they require a great deal of carbon in production as well as for driving. More and more people are innovating in active transit, like cycling and walking. Cars are most helpful in situations where people have to travel long distances. Here’s a handy list of cycle routes in Ebbw Vale from RouteYou.com.

    Materialism

    Times have changed and, according to research, experiences result in longer lasting happiness for people as opposed to materialistic things that usually have limited meaning. Next time you want to show someone how much they mean to you, give them your time, and an experience like no other- one that neither of you will ever forget. Materialistic things are usually thrown away and forgotten about, which wastes away a small but meaningful part of our world. Here’s Going Zero Waste’s list of 50 experience gift ideas of varying costs from coffee to a holiday.

    Food

    Finally, by using leftover food from the fridge and freezer people can become sustainable. By keeping track of what they buy and throw away, you can waste much less food. There is also evidence that Best Before dates are often misleading and lead to people throwing away food too early. Check out some of these recipes from Love Food Hate Waste using leftover food.


    Overall the main idea of sustainability is to focus on the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In short we need to make small changes in the way we live so that future generations don’t make the same mistake.

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  6. Tackling Plastic Pollution at the EVI

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    ‘Sustainability’ is everywhere at the moment, and the Ebbw Vale Institute is on board with this and has an on-going sustainability drive at the building and in the community. Back in April Llamau, a leading homelessness charity in Wales, held a plastic pollution workshop at the EVI for Earth Day.

    Llamau’s Laura Wheeler, who was hosting the workshop, is herself really passionate about plastic pollution. Laura started by showing the young people attending some shocking images of plastic pollution, like birds and marine wildlife being choked by debris or fishermen sailing through toxic reefs. She then asked them how that made them feel.

    How does plastic pollution make you feel?

    Sick“, came one answer.

    Sad“, said another.

    Guilty. Depressed. Ashamed. Shocked. Disgusted.

    Clearly, nobody is proud of the effect mankind’s hunger for plastic has had on the planet’s oceans. But how does it affect us?

    Plastic, plastic, everywhere

    It was time to think about the prevalence of plastics in all areas of our lives. There are microbeads in skincare products and plastic in polyester clothes. Things made of card, glass or wood can even have small plastic additions. When you wash synthetic clothes tiny plastic microfibres get into the water supply. The fish digest this plastic and then we eat the fish. They took a look at medical equipment too, like asthma pumps, drips, jabs and more. It was agreed that this was a worthwhile exception.

    The group considered the cost-benefit analysis of reducing our plastic usage. The average adult buys three plastic water bottles each week. If we stump up the extra cost for a nice reusable bottle, how long until we start making back that initial investment? When you’re on a tight budget, sadly, even a small initial cost can be a big deterrent. Should the government and big corporations be making it easier for individuals to make sustainable choices?

    Selection of plastic alternatives for plastic pollution article

    Making a difference

    One workshop attendee mentioned that her brother sometimes goes into the supermarket and dumps all his plastic packaging on the checkout. Discussing this as a group they decided that this probably just inconvenienced the workers at the supermarket and rarely got through to anyone higher up in management or the supply chain

    Laura showed some serious alternatives to plastic. When making sandwiches, for example, she packs them with beeswax wraps rather than cling film. You can use beeswax wraps as a lid on a jar too – pack it over the top and the heat of your hand will close the air gap. It’s antibacterial, nontoxic, and of course fully biodegradable. You can even make it at home should you wish to.

    Then Laura showed a whole series of packaging and plastic free products, from body scrubs to shampoos, probably one of the easiest ways to cut plastic quite significantly from our lives.

    One final tip from Laura: if you do have to buy something in a plastic bottle, buy it in bulk and/or in concentrate, thus reducing your plastic usage.

    All in all it was a really successful session thinking about what little steps could be taken to improve our sustainability practices.

    The EVI has been improving the sustainability of the building and running sustainability workshops as part of a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. We have already carried out work to improve the air heat pumps and the lighting at the EVI.