Teifi Green Guide to sustainable living

What does ‘sustainable living’ mean?

Our Western lifestyles are not sustainable; if we keep living this way and consuming so much, our environment will be so degraded and changed, it may not support human life any more.

But there are many ways that you can reduce your impact and live more lightly on the earth. Our impacts on the earth include pollution, the use of finite resources (eg plastic & oil) and waste to landfill.

In this directory you will find green businesses and services to reduce your impact in all areas of your life:

  • Starting off with food and eating out: buying local,  organic food reduces pollution from food miles, and avoids pollution of the soil with chemicals. Locally grown , or home grown food also has less plastic packaging. Plant foods generally use less resources to produce than livestock and dairy.
  • Moving on to home and housing, you can heat your home with wood, use renewable electricity, buy eco paints and secondhand furniture. Or even build your own eco home from scratch!
  • Going out: buses , bikes and electric cars all reduce air pollution. And check out all the amazing eco venues in our area.
  • New skills and knowledge/information: all sorts of courses related to green living are available locally, such as coppicing, weaving, wild food , scything and Forest Schooling for children.
  • Find out where to repair useful items such as tools.

I hope you enjoy using the Guide and finding out about all the brilliant green businesses in our area.

By Catriona Fothergill

Catriona_Fothergill@yahoo.co.uk

Why outdoors? The value of outdoor learning for children and young people

 

Why Outdoors?
The Value of Outdoor Learning for Children and Young People

Childhood is changing. Over the last three decades children have started spending significantly less time outdoors, and much more time indoors. A YouGov poll commissioned by the Wildlife Trusts, and reported in ‘Every Wild Child’, found that fewer than 10% of children play in natural areas, but that 40% of adults did as children (1). Derbyshire (2007) found that the approximate roaming range of children from 1915 to 2015 has reduced from 6 miles to just 300 yards (2).
There are real and perceived risks that may have contributed to this trend, but an even more significant factor is the rise of digital technology. Children now can flick between channels for 24 hour a day children’s TV shows. The rise of the internet has provided a library at the tip of our fingers, and can be a great educational resource. However, surfing the net and playing games can easily become compulsive for many children (3). Along with changes in diet, this rise in sedentary activity may be contributing to the childhood obesity crisis that Wales is now facing. A report for Public Health Wales in 2014 found that 11.3% of children in Wales are obese. It found that 26% of children starting school had an unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI).This is 4% higher than in England (4). Director of the National Obesity Forum Wales, Dr Nadim Haboudi said ‘Children have computer games, iPads and they sit there for hours’ (5).
In tandem with this, evidence suggests that children may be losing the ability to identify and name common wild plants and animals. A study by the University of Cambridge compared the knowledge of Pokemon characters with common British wildlife. The study found that53% of 8 year olds were successful in identifying wildlife, but more (78%) of children were able to identify Pokemon characters (6). While phone aps like Pokemon Go may get children outside, they are still staring at screens. The author Robert Macfarlane has pointed out that being able to name and recognise something you are more likely to care for it. In response to the Oxford Junior Dictionary dropping a range of nature related words from its pages, Macfarlane and the illustrator Jackie Morris produced a book called ‘The Lost Words, a delightful spellbinding collection of acrostic poetry representing our wildlife. Crowdfunding has ensured that copies of the book are available in many (but not all) schools. In a similar vein, E O Wilson, the founder of the biophilia hypothesis, suggested that ‘hands-on experience at a critical time, not systematic knowledge, is what counts in the making of a naturalist.’ This is backed up by evidence that suggests that significant time, and positive experiences in nature lead to enhanced attitudes and beliefs in the importance of nature conservation and environmental protection (7). Not only is time outdoors in childhood good for health, the fostering of positive attitudes towards nature will be essential if we are to transition towards a society that exists sustainably within the biosphere in the 21st century.
In addition, time outdoors in green settings has been shown to have a significant effect on mental health and wellbeing. Reported in the National Trust’s ‘Natural Childhood’, a survey in 2011 revealed that 80% of people reporting the highest levels of happiness in the UK said that they have a strong connection with the natural world, compared with less than 40% of the unhappiest (8).There are also profound effects just from relocating from an indoor environment into a green space. Bird (2007) notes that ‘green time’ can have a significant role in helping to reduce the symptoms of ADHD (9). In addition, the quality of that green space (i.e. the wilder it is) directly influences the extent of the calming effect on children (10).
Furthermore, if children can engage in meaningful learning experiences in nature that involve challenge there is a marked improvement self-efficacy and self-esteem with positive participation from diverse learner types. Swarbrick (2004) noted an ‘increased ability of quiet children to express themselves, an increase in confidence, and positive participation from disruptive children’ (11)

There are some within the mainstream educational community that recognise the benefits of taking learning outdoors whether that is Science, Expressive Arts, History, Numeracy or Literacy. Pioneering headteachers and teachers are embracing this approach for all the manifold benefits it can offer. Organisations like Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools and Learning Through Landscapes support teachers to gain more confidence to facilitate meaningful applied hands-on discovery learning outdoors. In Wales we have a particularly supportive policy climate for incorporating more outdoor time into the school day, giving a green light to teachers wishing to embrace this approach with endorsement from various leaders in education (12). This includes progressive legislation such as the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015), as well as the reformed curriculum for Wales, with an emphasis on thematic learning, as set out in the report by Professor Graham Donaldson ‘Successful Futures.’
The time has come for us all to recognise the power of outdoor time for children for improved health and wellbeing, as well as a future generations that understands and knows how to care for our world. Schools and families will both have a role to play to ensure we are providing the base life chances to our young people based on the evidence that’s out there.

Augusta Lewis is an educator and freelance writer. She is the former coordinator of Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools and the founder of Teifi Wild Things. She now works for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority on a part-time basis as an Activities and Events Coordinator.
See www.pembrokeshireoutdoorschools.org.uk for more information on the benefits of outdoor learning.

(1)https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/every-child-wild-making-nature-part-growing-all-children

(2)https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/every-child-wild-making-nature-part-growing-all-children
(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480687/

(4) Public Health Wales: Childhood measurement Programme for Wales. Annual Report 2015.

(5)http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/677952Reported by BBC News. July 31st 2014 ‘Over one-in 10 Welsh children starting school obese’

(6) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/children-better-at-recognising-pokemon-characters-than-british-wildlife-9131306.html

(7) See Bird, W & RSPB (2007) ‘Natural Thinking: Investigating the Links between the Natural Environment, Biodiversity and Mental Health’. First Edition. pp 53.

(8) Reynolds, F (2011) ‘People and Nature: A paper from Fiona Reynolds to the Ministerial Advisory Panel of NEWP.’ Quoted in National trust ‘Natural Childhood’. Pp 8.

(9) Bird, W (2007) Natural Thinking: Investigating the Links between the Natural Environment, Biodiversity and Mental Health. RSPB. First Edition. pp 77.
(10) Faber Taylor et al. (2001) Coping with ADHD: The Surprising Connection to Green Play Settings. Environment and Behaviour. 33 (Jan 2001). Pp 54-77.

(11) Swarbrick et al. (2004) quoted in Dillon, J (2011) ‘Understanding the Diverse Benefits of Learning in Natural Environments. King’s College London. pp 9.

  1. (12)http://pembrokeshireoutdoorschools.co.uk/home

We need a revolution..it starts with falling in love with the earth – Zen Master Thich Nhat Han

The Earth is our mother, nourishing and protecting us in every moment – giving us air to breathe, fresh water to drink, food to eat, and healing herbs to cure us when we are sick. Every breath we inhale contains our planets nitrogen, oxygen, water vapour and Trace elements. When we breathe with mindfulness, we can experience our interbeing with the Earth’s delicate atmosphere, with all the plants, and even with the sun whose light makes possible the miracle of photosynthesis. With every breath, we can experience Communion. With every breath, we can savour the wonders of life.

We need to change our way of thinking and seeing things. We need to realise that the Earth is not just our environment. The Earth is not something outside of us. Breathing with mindfulness and contemplating your body, you realise that . You realise that your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth. Look around you–what you see is not your environment, it is you.

Whatever nationality or culture we belong to, whatever religion we follow, whether we’re, Christians, Muslims, Jews, or atheists, we can all see that the Earth is not inert matter. She is a great being, who has herself given birth to many other great beings–including Buddhas and bodhisattvas, prophets and saints, sons and daughters of God and humankind. The Earth is a loving mother, nurturing and protecting all peoples and all species without discrimination.

When you realise the Earth is so much more than simply your environment, you’ll be moved to protect her in the same way as you would yourself. This is the kind of awareness, the kind of awakening that we need, and the future of the planet depends on whether we’re able to cultivate this insight or not. The Earth and all species on Earth are in real danger. Yet if we can develop a deep relationship with the Earth, we’ll have enough love, strength and in order to change our way of life.

We can all experience a feeling of deep admiration and love when we see the great harmony, elegance and beauty of the Earth. A simple branch of a cherry blossom, the shell of a snail or the wing of a bat–all bear witness to the Earth’s masterful creativity. Every advance in our scientific understanding deepens our admiration and love for this wondrous planet. When we can truly see and understand the Earth, love is born in our hearts. We feel connected. That is the meaning of love: To be at one.

Only when we’ve truly fallen back in love with the Earth will our actions spring from reverence, and the insight of our . Yet many of us have become alienated from the Earth. We are lost, isolated and lonely. We work too hard, our lives are too busy, and we are restless and distracted, losing ourselves in consumption. But the Earth is always there for us, offering us everything we need for our nourishment and healing: The miraculous grain of corn, the refreshing stream, the fragrant forest, the majestic snow-capped mountain peak, and the joyful birdsong at dawn.

Many of us think we need more money, more power or more status before we can be happy. We’re so busy spending our lives chasing after money, power and status that we ignore all the conditions for happiness already available. At the same time, we lose ourselves in buying and  things we don’t need, putting a heavy strain on both our bodies and the planet. Yet much of what we drink, eat, watch, read or listen to, is toxic and is polluting our bodies and minds with violence, anger, fear and despair.

As well as the carbon dioxide pollution of our physical environment, we can speak of the spiritual pollution of our human environment: The toxic and destructive atmosphere we’re creating with our way of consuming. We need to consume in such a way that truly sustains our peace and happiness. Only when we’re sustainable as humans will our civilization become sustainable. It is possible to be happy in the here and the now.

We don’t need to consume a lot to be; in fact, we can live very simply. With mindfulness, any moment can become a happy moment. Savouring one simple breath, taking a moment to stop and contemplate the bright blue sky, or to fully enjoy the presence of a loved one, can be more than enough to make us happy. Each one of us needs to come back to reconnect with ourselves, with our loved ones and with the Earth. It’s not money, power or consuming that can make us happy, but having love and understanding in our heart.

We need to consume in such a way that keeps our compassion alive. And yet many of us consume in a way that is very violent. Forests are cut down to raise cattle for beef, or to grow grain for liquor, while millions in the world are dying of starvation. Reducing the amount of meat we eat and alcohol we consume by 50% is a true act of love for ourselves, for the Earth and for one another. Eating with  can already help transform the situation our planet is facing, and restore balance to ourselves and the Earth.

There’s a revolution that needs to happen and it starts from inside each one of us. We need to wake up and fall in love with Earth. We’ve been homo sapiens for a long time. Now it’s time to become homo conscious. Our love and admiration for the Earth has the power to unite us and remove all boundaries, separation and discrimination. Centuries of  and competition have brought about tremendous destruction and alienation. We need to re-establish true communication–true communion–with ourselves, with the Earth, and with one another, as children of the same mother. We need more than new technology to protect the planet. We need real community and co-operation.

All civilisations are impermanent and must come to an end one day. But if we continue on our current course, there’s no doubt that our civilisation will be destroyed sooner than we think. The Earth may need millions of years to heal, to retrieve her balance and restore her beauty. She will be able to recover, but we humans and many other species will disappear, until the Earth can generate conditions to bring us forth again in new forms. Once we can accept the impermanence of our civilization with peace, we will be liberated from our fear. Only then will we have the strength, awakening and love we need to bring us together. Cherishing our precious Earth–falling in love with the Earth–is not an obligation. It is a matter of personal and collective happiness and survival.

Zen Master ThichNhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, revered around the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. He is the man Martin Luther King called “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” He suffered a stroke in 2014 and since then has not been able to speak or write. This text is based on a series of talks he gave in the years leading up to the Paris Climate Agreement and has been prepared by his disciples. His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

www.plumvillage.org