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National Trust is going green

PUBLISHED: 16:38 24 November 2011 | UPDATED: 15:49 20 February 2013

A new farm shop at Polesden Lacey (The National Trust -  John Miller)

A new farm shop at Polesden Lacey (The National Trust - John Miller)

In this month's column from the National Trust, the environmental practices adviser for the south-east, Jane Fletcher, tells us about what the Trust is doing to be greener

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2009

In this month's column from the National Trust, the environmental practices adviser for the south-east, Jane Fletcher, tells us about what the Trust is doing to be greener

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All of our properties in the south-east are contributing to the Trust's national objective to reduce its carbon footprint. It's not always easy, but often it's the small things we can do that add up and make the difference. Here are a few examples...

Low-energy light bulbs
The Big Switch project has seen the National Trust change 40,000 light bulbs across its historic houses, offices, shops, restaurants and holiday cottages to low-energy alternatives. In Surrey, we have changed hundreds of bulbs, which will save 23 tonnes of CO2 a year (that's enough to fill 11,500 fire extinguishers) as well as reduce annual energy and maintenance costs by 4,421. These savings will go back into reducing the environmental impact of our properties even further.

Waste recycling
More than 60 per cent of our waste can be recycled, including glass, cans, textiles, plastic bottles and paper. Within a week, your old papers could be back as a newspaper! Your local authority will have lots of advice and information on services near you.

Last year, we set up public recycling stations at Box Hill. Here, visitors can recycle the paper plates and cups and soft drink cans that they purchase from the servery or the appropriate items from their picnics. So far, the facilities have been really well received.

In the garden
Garden waste, like grass cuttings, is very heavy, and once you throw it in the bin, it is transported to the local landfill, using a lot of energy, and then very slowly rots down releasing the harmful greenhouse gas, methane.

By composting your garden waste, you not only reduce the amount going to landfill but you also end up with a really useful product for your garden - and it's so easy. Paper, cardboard, vegetable scraps, teabags and other organic waste can all be added to the heap. Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming, is one of many Trust properties now composting all of their garden waste.

Insulating your property
This is one of the simplest ways to save energy - it's easy to do yourself and could save around 110 a year on your fuel bill. At Polesden Lacey, in Great Bookham, new insulation has been installed in a number of the estate cottages. Sometimes, grants are available for home insulation from local councils or the Government's Warmfront scheme, so check this out before you start.

Buying local food
Choosing local, seasonal food will save energy because it will not have been grown in a greenhouse or have been transported miles to reach your plate. At Polesden Lacey, the restaurant serves beef that has come from livestock reared on the property's very own estate by tenant farmer Steve Conisbee - how much more local can you get than that? Plus, a new farm shop this spring will mean that visitors can buy a range of local produce from fine cheeses and fresh vegetables to home-baked breads and of course Conisbee's meat.

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