Plas Gwynant became an Eco centre in 2008 and remained so until
the scheme came to an end. By this time the ethos and ideas had
become so entrenched in the everyday life of the centre that the
staff decided on an informal rebrand, incorporating a big green
thumb as its symbol. Whilst ‘under the thumb’, we continued
efforts to reduce our environmental footprint across all aspects
of the centre’s operations from food waste and recycling to
electricity and travel, water and gas.
The centre is nestled in the Gwynant valley surrounded by land
owned by the National Trust and on the door step of the thriving
Nant Gwynant and Beddgelert villages. We’re always felt that
engagement with community partners is an essential part of our
activities with groups. As providers of the John Muir Award we’ve
worked on the Beddgelert community garden and tree nursery,
dry-stone walled and rhododendron pulled with the National Trust
and adopted a section of footpath that runs down the valley on
Lockdown and an absence of groups gave us an opportunity to
re-think and re-structure our efforts, from which was born the
idea for Future Footprints. Our goal is to promote positive
long-term environmental behaviour in young people through
engagement in systematic action, supported by effective education.
We recognise the scale of the challenges facing us but we’ve
always felt that if we can get young people to do the basics
(lights, waste, water, recycling) and relate that to the outdoor
environment from which they take their positive experiences; then
there is a chance that those behaviours will become entrenched.
Our successes and our frustrations abound in equal measure. One
week the recycling and composting are perfect, the children turn
off lights when they leave their bedrooms and there is very little
food waste recorded in the ‘ORT’ report at the end of each meal.
The next week the dormitories can be lit up like a shopping centre
at Christmas time, the compost bin full of litter and someone
walks off leaving a tap running in toilet. Time has brought about
the realisation that no one way is perfect and we’ve tried every
combination of systems and actions imaginable, to establish a
desire to engage.
We’ve recently re-doubled our efforts by bringing in more
systematic bedroom tidiness competitions incorporating recycling
and waste management; further developing our centre jobs the
groups do each morning, and continuing to reinforce messages at
key times such as morning briefings and visiting staff meetings.
It’s a long road but we feel that if only one young person choses
to dispose of their rubbish responsibly, turn off the lights and
not spend 10 minutes in the shower in the future, then it is worth