Eco-friendly for adults and children

IMG_2021 Thornthwaite is a quiet little village in the heart of the Lake District. On a summer day there are lambs in the fields, birdsong, a murmuring beck and buzzards circling in the sky. It’s an idyllic scene but one we can’t view in isolation or take for granted. We live in an interdependent world. Our actions here affect lives elsewhere – in other towns, in other lands, in other continents.

It’s hard these days not to be aware of the damage we are doing to the natural world through carbon emissions and our use of fossil fuels, through growing demands for water and food, through destruction of habitats and through over-exploitation of the world’s resources. At The Larches we want to reduce energy usage and work with others to conserve our environment.

The Government’s chief scientist has warned of a ‘perfect storm’ of scarcity (Guardian, 18th March 2009), which will engulf the globe by 2030 if action is not taken urgently. However a global calamity is not inevitable. Positive action can change things for the better. A fascinating discussion of this whole issue can be found in a Guardian debate (17 August 2009) between George Monbiot and Paul Kingsnorth, “Is there any point in fighting to stave off industrial apocalypse?”

logo-2Like others we have begun to think much more about how we personally can contribute to creating a better environment for ourselves and future generations; and we want to see this reflected in what is done at The Larches.

This attitude isn’t a total change from the past as like others we’ve saved and recycled materials when possible. We’ve used public transport when convenient, supported charity shops, kept timber which others were scrapping and explored how new technologies can reduce congestion and energy use.

Local councils are playing their part in this new world – building waste management systems which require us to sort rubbish – and subsidizing the cost of compost bins. Allerdale Council, which covers this area, has teamed up with the Energy Savings Trust to offer a free energy savings report online for all households. Utility companies send low energy light bulbs and advise on roof insulation. All of this is helping us and others change our ways.

beetle2The issues are large scale and need government and international action; and it is good that China is now (See Larches blog post June 2009) taking urgent action to create its own green power revolution. But none of this should stop us as individuals contributing to solutions rather than adding to the problems.

A survey of 3,000 members of Manchester is My Planet, found the most commonly adopted practice to reduce CO2 emissions was to fill the kettle with only the amount of water needed. It’s a small change maybe but the energy savings mount up if 10,000 people do this.

flooring At The Larches to save resources we have recycled maple floorboards for the hallway (See photo opposite), which were originally used in a Stockport engineering factory; and created shelving units and bed-heads using recycled timber taken from demolished churches and shops in a Tyneside redevelopment areas.

In the sub-areas of this section we explore these issues in some more detail and give practical illustrations of what has been done at The Larches and elsewhere.

To children who visit The Larches

We are pleased to welcome you to the cottage and we know that you will enjoy your stay here. We hope that you will be able to learn about the environment and the wildlife from your stay. One young person put this comment in the Visitors’ book:

Real good views … and lots of things to do like hide and seek … I liked the upstairs bedroom … that’s why I was in that room.

Here are pictures of young people who have visited recently – Becca, Evelyn and Martha. They have enjoyed the garden and the belvedere and all the places they can explore. Very young children will need someone to help them as there are steep places and steps where they could fall and hurt themselves.

children's portraits

Some of you may like to find out more about the environment, the wildlife and other interesting things to see at the cottage. You can download and print off a quiz-sheet, if you would like this. You will be able to find the answers from looking round the garden and in the house. There are normally copies of the quiz at The Larches in the letter-writing folder. Below are two children working on the quiz: