ZERO IMPACT—We’re Not Just Talking Trash

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Some people say we talk a lot of trash and they’re right; we do!  Our social media, blog posts and newsletters are full of talk about the trash we pull from the river and gather on the walkway.  But our environmental commitment runs deeper than just our river cleanups.  In creating our Strategic Plan we found themes around waste and our environmental impact and from this, our Zero Impact Action plan was born. 

Becoming completely zero waste and carbon neutral may be blue-sky thinking but we can still make changes to lessen our impact on the natural world. We’re committed to educating ourselves so we can make informed choices as we work towards reducing our waste and carbon footprint. 

Our focus begins at the Visitor Centre.  With so much going on here, there’s no doubt it’s our largest source of waste and carbon usage.  So where do we start? 
What goes down our drains can directly impact the river.  If you use our toilets, you may notice new toilet tissue.  Not only is it carbon neutral and made from cellulose fibres recycled from drinks cartons, but it’s kinder to the sewerage system too, as it breaks apart as it’s flushed, reducing blockages. 

Also going down our drains are cleaning products.   As we use up our old stock we’ll begin using more environmentally-friendly, biodegradable products that are kinder to the environment and opt for fragrance-free products where we can. 

Then there’s the cafe, a favourite for many regulars and a welcome break for those using the walkway. Here you can enjoy an organic, fairtrade, rainforest alliance, bean-to-cup latte, but the snack options aren’t so sustainable.  During the pandemic, individually wrapped cakes and biscuits made sense for hygiene, but this excess packaging produces a lot of waste.  By the summer we hope to be able to offer fresh, locally made cakes and snacks.  It’s a small shift with a significant impact – less waste, more flavour! 

In April we’re going to delve into our rubbish (quite literally) and conduct a waste audit.  We’ll identify what makes up the bulk of our waste and set the baseline for improvements, allowing us to evaluate our efforts to improve in years to come.  We’ll also be checking whether our systems for recycling waste are effective. Recycling can be really confusing, as there’s no nationwide formula and the approach varies from council to council. Expect a blog post in the coming months on the subject!

Looking to our future goals, we’ll be tackling energy sources and usage.  Can we lower our consumption?  Insulating the loft halved our gas usage!  Could we generate our own power and heat through solar panels or heat pumps? Maybe there’s a way to harness the energy of the hundreds of excited who pass though the Centre each year. As we set out on this journey, we’d love to bring you along with us too.  If you have any ideas, suggestions or feedback then please do get in touch. 

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