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  1. Join Us To Celebrate A Sustainable Christmas

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    Over the last few months the EVI has been doing lots to improve the sustainability of the building and the surrounding area. As we come to the end of this period of our special sustainability drive we’re inviting the residents of Ebbw Vale to join us in a Christmas Celebration and create some environmentally friendly decorations.

    On Wednesday, 27th November we invite all members of the community to join us between 4pm and 7pm for our Festive Family Fun event. There will be a pedal powered disco, a buffet for the kids and a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie for the parents. We’ll also have some fun recycling workshops turning driftwood into fun Christmas trees and creating Christmas baubles… and we’ll be doing all this for FREE.

    Festive Fun Day - a Sustainable Christmas

    The event is being held to celebrate the end of our sustainability project that has been running for the past few months with £32,523 funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme through WCVA. A load has been going on at the EVI as a part of this project.

    EVI light - a Sustainable Christmas

    The Light Fantastic

    The first thing we did was attempted to reduce energy consumption at the EVI. An energy review that had been carried out previously at the EVI highlighted where energy was being wasted the most in the building. The funding the EVI received allowed us to carry out improvements based on recommendations made in the energy review report. Lighting was a huge energy waster therefore some of the funding was used to convert all the lighting to LED, which uses 90% less energy. New eco driers that use cold air rather than cold air were also fitted in the bathrooms.

    Drafts and heating were also an issue in this large, historic building. Doors being left open, heating empty rooms and expensive electric heaters being used was a big issue. This was solved by fitting automatic door closers on all the doors, automatic controls were fitted on radiators and energy meters were installed. The portable electric heaters were banished as new energy efficient wall heaters were fitted with 10-minute timers. The air source heat pumps that were installed when the EVI underwent restoration over a decade ago were in dire need of repair works as they had become inefficient meaning that in the winter we had to rely on heating the building with a back up gas boiler. The fund allowed the repairs to take place meaning the EVI was once again being heated primarily through the energy efficient pumps.

    Bug houses - a Sustainable Christmas

    Community Spirit

    As a part of our sustainability project we wanted to involve the community by offering volunteering and training opportunities. The aim was to teach skills and inform the public about sustainability and what they could do. In April we ran a plastic pollution workshop at the EVI for Earth Day. Here we shared information about the prevalence of plastics in our lives and what we could do to cut down on this.

    In June we held a wildlife gardening workshop with Eggseeds to increase the biodiversity of the area. Young volunteers built bug hotels and made seed bombs. The colourful bug hotels take pride of place at the front of the EVI.

    Knowledge is Power

    An important part of the project for us is that we encourage people in the area to help us share the sustainability message. We invited those that were interested in helping us spread the word to attend two separate training sessions. The first was a blogging and video creation workshop. Attendees learnt skills on how to plan and create their own videos. They also, despite only having a day to fit in everything, managed to create the following video detailing all the work that had gone on at the EVI so far.

    The second session was a blog writing workshop. Attendees chose a subject that interested them and created a number of articles to promote the sustainability and energy efficiency message.  Articles included how to cut down on carbon, planting trees, sustainable tea and more. All these articles have been published on the EVI website. Check them out in the related articles below.

    Join us

    This Festive Fun event is our way of celebrating all the work that has been done and to keep spreading the sustainability message in a fun way by creating some Christmas goodies to take home. To reiterate – a pedal powered disco, buffet, mulled wine and mince pies – and did we mention it was FREE? Join us to celebrate and make by registering your interest here:

    Related articles:

    5 Steps To Live A More Sustainable Life

    5 Things You Can Do To Help The Earth

    The Ultimate Guide To Sustainabili-TEA

    Planting Trees To Save The World

    Easy Ways To Cut Carbon For The Environment

  2. Easy Ways To Cut Carbon For The Environment

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    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

  3. Creating a Bug Paradise For Biodiversity

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    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:

  4. Tackling Plastic Pollution at the EVI

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    ‘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.

  5. An Energy Efficient EVi: Lighting The Way Forward

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    Darllen yr erthygl yn Gymraeg

    It’s been a hive of activity at the Ebbw Vale Institute (EVi) recently with lots of energy efficiency works going on thanks to generous funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme managed by the WCVA. All work is now complete and we wanted to let you know exactly what we’ve been doing.

    EVi cafe for Energy Efficiency article

    The EVi is ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue that provides a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. We are home to a variety of third sector organisations, welcoming over 5,000 people a month.

    One aspect of the work to reduce energy consumption at this historic building was the lighting improvements, which we will look at in this article. We’ll also take a look at why LED lighting is a good idea for all homes and buildings.

    Light Improvements

    A massive 21%* of the EVi’s energy consumption went towards keeping all the lights on. It’s a big building so it needs a lot of light!  (*Results of an energy review carried out by REW)

    “Our lighting was out of date and inefficient,” explains Samantha James, Operations Coordinator at the EVi.

    “The fluorescent tubes were constantly shorting out, some of the diffusers were broken and we were continuously purchasing new bulbs.” 

    The main hall is the biggest space in the building. The space has been hired out for live performances, conferences, exhibitions, private parties, weddings and more. But two banks of lights in the main hall were not working, not a great look when hiring out the space to people! But the cost of replacing them was high, not just because they needed specialist bulbs, but also scaffolding had to be hired and specialised electricians had to be called in repeatedly to fit them.

    Funding Success

    A solution had to be sought, and the funding received from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme made this possible.

    “We used some of the £32,523 we received to source state of the art LED lighting for the hall,” said Samantha.

    “The scaffolding and works were organised and carried out with no disruption to any of the groups hiring the hall.”

    And it’s not just the hall that’s had a lighting make over. The entire buildings lighting has been converted to LED.

    The benefits of LED *

    LED, or a Light Emitting Diode, uses up to 90% less energy. While a traditional bulb produces a lot of heat to be able to produce light, an LED uses far less heat to do the same thing and is therefore much more energy efficient.

    Lighting can make up to 20% of your energy bills so you can make significant savings by switching to LED. They also last, about 20 times longer than a traditional light bulb, meaning you don’t have to keep popping out to buy bulbs and change them all the time. Another bonus is that LED bulbs are also recyclable, as they don’t contain mercury like some older bulbs.

    The good news for anyone who’s thinking of changing to LED is that there’s been a big reduction in prince since they first came out, and it’s not just spotlights anymore either. There’s now a wide range available, like bayonet, screw or strip lights even. (*Information source: 7 Reasons Why You Should Swap To LED Lighting – thegreenage.co.uk)


    Check back with us soon when we’ll be looking at the draught and heating improvement works that have been carried out at the EVi.

    This is a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    If you’re interested in hiring facilities at the EVi then contact us to find out more.

  6. Increasing Energy Efficiency At The EVi

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    The Ebbw Vale Institute is pleased to announce that we have received £32,523 funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. This is a Welsh Government fund programme managed by WCVA.

    We will be improving energy efficiency at the EVi increasing the local biodiversity and involving the community through volunteering and sharing what we learn.   

    The EVi 

    The EVi is ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue that provides a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. We are home to a variety of third sector organisations including Barnardo’sBlaenau Gwent Youth ServicesLlamauLeeders Vale, Careers Wales and Learn About Us.   
     
    Over 5000 people a month visit us here at the EVi, with a wide variety of uses and users for this community building. Reducing energy usage in a large building like this creates major savings and helps reduce our carbon footprint. 

    EVi outside for Energy Efficiency article

    Improving the building

    This year marks the 170th year of the EVi. It’s been over a decade since ProMo-Cymru took over the running of the building. When we originally moved in, we knew that it needed a lot of work to improve the fabric of the building. From the very beginning we worked with the future in mind. We installed two state of the art ground heat pumps to make heating more efficient. Thanks to this fund, we will soon be implementing a number of other energy saving features. We will also be involving the community as volunteers to help increase biodiversity around the building.

    Energy efficiency and cost-saving may not sound very exciting to those using the building, but it is very important to all that goes on at the EVi. This behind the scenes work allows the EVi to continue to support the local community. Over the next year we will be asking volunteers and staff to share what makes it such a special place to work and play. We are also excited to get the young people who use the building to share what they are doing. We will broadcast everything over our digital channels. This ensures that everyone gets to see the work that ProMo-Cymru and the community does to develop sustainability in Ebbw Vale.


    This is a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    If you’re interested in hiring facilities at the EVi then contact us to find out more.

Foundation Funders:

National Lottery Community Fund Logo
Welsh Government Logo

Current Funders:

Lloyds Bank Foundation Logo
Landfills Tax Scheme Logo
WCVA Logo
Blaenau Gwent County Council Logo
UK Gov Wales