Thursday, 21 May 2009

Kettle on, cuppa, teabags, oh

I love visiting the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales, there is always something new to see, and of course there is their shop. I know, I can shop online, but nothing quite beats flicking through new books. So when Craig (Transition House) said he had to go to a thesis workshop at CAT for his MSc, I jumped at the opportunity to join him for the week.

Initially we thought that Craig would need to be at CAT all day everyday (he was going to attend the straw bale building modulebut in the end he was just there for just over a day (he’s postponed the module)), so I arranged to volunteer to work with Chris Dixon at his permaculture holding at Tir Penrhos Isaf. You might recognise his name. Chris has recently featured on BBC2’s Natural World program - A Farm for the Future – more about my experience at Tir Penrhos Isaf in later posts.

Bluebell wood WalesWe rented a small cottage for the week that had spectacular views across the Dyfi valley and a gorgeous bluebell wood just along the lane. First impressions were good, small glass and metal recycling boxes outside, paper and plastic recycling bins inside. Fantastic. Kettle on, cuppa, teabags, oh… What do I do with this then? I spent the next few minutes walking around while balancing a spent tea bag on a teaspoon, trying to find a compost bin. Bokashi bin in the cupboards? No. It had to go into the landfill bin. I have to say, that was a very odd experience. I can’t remember the last time I’d put compostable waste into bin destined for landfill (I managed to persuade the caretakers at work to give me space for the “team worms” – the wormery behind the bike shed – ages ago). It was surprising just how easily the small green changes at home and work had been incorporated into my life and that not recycling just felt alien and wrong.

I’m not going to even get started on the light bulbs or heating, suffice to say, I'd have thought that even if a small business isn’t particularly environmentally minded, the money saving aspects of energy saving light bulbs and thermostat controls would be a no-brainer.

There, I’m done.

We did have a loverly time (we kept passing the bus to Bangor, but no, we didn't go).

The bargains I picked up at CAT were;

All interesting reads.


  1. Don't get me on the subject of thermostats. The council owned building I work in is shared by two different services. Upstairs I guess they have to sit at their computers all day filling in reports, which must be why they get cold very easily. I suppose they are too badly paid to afford proper woollen jumpers, let alone vests.

    Downstairs, where I work, most of us spend a lot of time on our feet, walking around a lot and putting books on shelves and that sort of thing. The people in the back offices sit down there and the sun doesn't shine in the windows in the Winter. However, the main part of the place where I work is like a greenhouse, so it is often too hot in summer with no heating on.

    In Winter, we only really need the heating on, on the coldest days for those of us moving around a lot, and I rarely have needed a jumper. However, as the people upstairs and in the back offices are cold we have to have the heating on, and it is either on or off. We do now have thermostats on the radiators, but the pipes are still making a lot of heat, as do all the computers we have running. So, guess, what? We have to open the windows to cool the place down! What a waste money, and what a wonderful way for our council to cut it's carbon emissions, which apparently it is very focussed on doing at present.

  2. I ran an energy saving week where I work, we linked it into a national campaign ( Alongside the posters, competitions and general awarenmess raising we asked people to suggest ways we could save energy. We got some pretty good responses, some of which we have acted upon (power down plugs for computers that kind of thing). But you wouldn't believe (well actually you might) how controversial suggesting that thermostats are turned down and that people wear more layers of clothing is. The debate that sparked. Wow. (I didn't suggest it this time round - it didn't go down well when I tried before! Perhaps next time).

  3. I am so totally amazed how against wearing jumpers and several warm layers of clothing people are. I don't understand it. I use central heating as little as possible as it dries the air and I tend to suffer as a result, but at work I'm not even cold most of the time when people want the heating on. In fact, although I wear summer clothing most of the year at work, sometimes I feel ill from the heat, but of course I can't take anything off and remain decent.

    I'd be so much happier if I felt cool enough to wear a jumper at work during the cooler parts of the year. I only need one, over my summer blouse, when it is really freezing outside and the sun isn't shining.

    *end of rant, hopefully*

  4. @Karin "can't take anything off and remain decent" I had a mouthful of tea and spluttered all over the laptop.
    Thanks for making me laugh.. lol


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