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Archive for August, 2011

I called in on the Centre for Alternative Technology a couple of weeks ago during a mini-holiday in Wales.  I last visited with my family about ten years ago (I remember the weather being typically Welsh then too!).

CAT, Machynlleth, Wales
CAT is built into the side of a hill in woodland in mid-Wales, on the edge of Snowdonia.  You have to be pulled up in a gravity-powered funicular railway to get up to the action. The centre demonstrates practical solutions for sustainability, covering all aspects of green living: environmental building, eco-sanitation, woodland management, renewable energy, energy efficiency and organic growing.

The cliff railway

The water-balanced cliff railway, one of the steepest in the world

In spite of the rather inclement weather, it was fascinating to visit again.  The centre has working examples of environmentally responsible buildings, renewable energy generation, sustainability in the home, organic growing, composting and waste management.

The solar dome

The forest garden

The forest garden, one of many ecological gardens on display, contains only plants that are edible or useful in some way, and is structured so that the plants help each other to grow.

Wind turbines

Several wind turbines around the centre

There are demonstrations showing how the wind, the sun and water can provide genuinely viable alternative forms of energy on a small scale as well as large.

Wood store

Wood store

Display of titles from Green Books

Beth Bennett from the CAT shop, with a display of titles from Green Books

The staff in the information centre were very helpful and took the trouble to email me with more information after my visit.  The bookshop has a huge range of practical and inspirational books on ecological and environmental subjects. It was great to see so many titles from Green Books on display, and it was very nice to meet Beth Bennett, who buys and markets the books.  There is also an excellent selection of unusual and innovative gifts for the environmentally-inclined.  The eco-store also sells by mail order.

The gift and bookshop

Shopping for environmental gifts and books

CAT runs many talks, events and workshops throughout the year, and the whole site is a working example of sustainability in practice. There is also an enormous amount of useful information on the CAT website.

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