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  1. Christmas & Sustainability Celebrations

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    Ebbw Vale families were invited to a Christmas Celebration event at the EVI recently. We were marking the end of a yearlong sustainability project, improving energy efficiency at the historic building and involving and training volunteers from the community.

    In December 2018 the EVI received £32,523 from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, a Welsh Government Programme managed by the WCVA. Over the year we’ve made improvements to the heating and lighting at the EVI, held a Plastic Pollution workshop with young people, created a bug paradise in the front of our building during a wildlife gardening workshop, trained volunteers in blog writing and creating videos creating a bank of sustainability articles on our website, and lastly a huge Christmas celebration with a sustainable twist.

    Driftwood christmas trees at Landfill Christmas celebration event

    An invitation to celebrate

    We invited people in the community to join us at the end of November to celebrate a sustainable Christmas with festive food and a pedal powered disco for the children, mulled wine and a mince pie for the parents, and workshops making Christmas goods from recycled materials.

    The 100 spaces we had on offer for the event filled up quickly. Entertainment was provided by the U3A (University of the Third Age) singing group, who sang and held singing activities for the children. The food went down very well, and every scrap was eaten, no wastage here!

    Pedal powered snowman at Landfill Christmas celebration event

    Powering a party

    Everyone loved the pedal powered disco, and the snowman, with the children keeping the music playing, the snowman inflated and the Christmas tree lights powered all night. People power!

    The workshops proved popular with everyone taking part, people loved taking home the Christmas trees and baubles they had made using driftwood and old pallets and learning a bit of pyrography.

    Two of the volunteers who had been part of our blog writing training came to help out. Jamie Lee and Victoria helped with the workshops and we loved hearing how Jamie Lee’s Planting Trees to Save the World article inspired them to plant trees in a woodland sanctuary.

    Llamau's pledge tree at Landfill Christmas celebration event

    Pledging to be greener

    Blaenau Gwent Council’s waste and recycling department also came along to give information and advice about weekly recycling collections.

    Llamau learners (who also took part in some of our previous workshops) came along with an interactive display. They asked people to make pledges for a sustainable Christmas and help the environment.

    “The learners had a really good time working together to make the display boards up, and they all learned something new about sustainability, and we hope these messages will be passed on,” said a Llamau Learning 4 Life tutor.

    There were some great pledges made and stuck onto the pledge tree. Here are just some of them:

    • – Use cotton carrier bags for my shopping
    • – I promise to us as less plastic as I possibly can
    • – Wrap all my Christmas presents in newspaper!
    • – I will recycle as much as I can
    • – Pick up the plastic at the beach

    People could also put in orders with Llamau for plastic free Christmas crackers and were given handy tips on environmentally friendly ways to wrap presents.

    Christmas tree pyrography at Landfill Christmas celebration event

    This is not the end

    Samantha James, Operations Coordinator at the EVi, was overjoyed with the success of the event and thought it was a perfect end to the yearlong project.

    “We’ve come to the end of this project and we’ve achieved so much here at the EVI,” she said.

    “We’ve helped raise awareness of biodiversity and environmental issues and our volunteers have been integral to this. They’ve helped us with our communication campaign. After receiving training with us some of them have gone on to help other environmental projects. The Christmas event was great to cap it all off by involving the whole community in what we’ve been doing here.

    And this is not the end for the EVI’s sustainability drive says Sam.

    “This has just been the beginning of the EVI becoming more sustainable and greener. We have learnt lots of new skills and information along the way and strive to keep up this good work”.

  2. 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

  3. Planting Trees To Save the World?

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    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.  

    Related articles

  4. 5 Steps To Live a More Sustainable Life

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    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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  5. 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.

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