Here we publish a tribute, in his own words, to Morgan Parry who died at the weekend
As a family we have managed to maintain a relatively low Ecological Footprint through making crucial changes to our everyday life. None of them are especially drastic but they go along way in conserving energy and resources. For instance, driving the kids to school would take three minutes where as walking them to school takes 20. That is 20 minutes more time that I get to spend with them, which is great.
Leading by example
Morgan Parry, one of Wales’ leading environmentalists, has died of cancer, aged 56. He was a member of the board at Natural Resources Wales, a former chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales, and former Head of WWF Cymru. With his wife and two children, two dogs, two beehives and a number of chickens, he lived outside Caernarfon. A leading campaigner on sustainable development, a few years ago he calculated his ecologicial footprint as 1.84, compared with the Welsh average of 3.14 – that is, more than three times the planet can sustain. In this article, which we re-publish as a tribute to his leadership in promoting the civic culture of Wales, he describes his family’s efforts to minimize their environmental impact.
Our house is lit throughout from energy saving light bulbs, all electrical appliances are switched off at the wall, seasonal fruit and vegetables are grown in the garden as are herbs, and honey is harvested from bees kept in the nearby field. There is a visual electric consumption meter in the house which clearly shows when too many lights and electrical appliances are on – a popular and educational tool to teach children about unnecessary energy consumption. We have a healthy composting system and recycle as much as possible.
We have given up flying and now enjoy camping holidays within the UK. We have abandoned our car and now get about by walking, cycling and getting the bus and the train. This creates inconveniences and demands a lot of planning, but the positives massively out way the negatives.
Camping in Scotland instead of a package holiday abroad tends to give us more quality time with our children. I am also a much fitter man now that I walk and cycle. I find that leading a low impact lifestyle enhances your quality of life. I am however by no means a paragon of virtue. There are many more ways in which I could change our way of life to impact less on our natural environment.
We have four acres of land, which could be put to better use. Ideally what I would like to do in the future is grow trees on our land to give us a sustainable supply of wood to heat the house. When we bought our house more than a decade ago it was derelict. Unfortunately, at that time we could not find wool insulation. However I managed to build an extension from salvaged supplies.
Our one naughty luxury is our oil fired Rayburn. In hindsight I would now have bought a wood fired Rayburn. In the end everyone ends up making compromises, there is always some sort of trade off. We are thinking hard about the installation of solar panels and a wind-turbine in order for us to become independent of the National Grid.
Community is crucial for people to maintain low impact lifestyles. Maintaining a close relationship with neighbours precipitates a sharing of resources such as car share, and swapping items. One man’s rubbish is another mans treasure. For example, I and two of my neighbours bought a trailer which we all share. However, due to working in Cardiff and having to commute by train means I cannot be as active within the community as I would like. Encouraging and indeed nurturing a stronger sense of altruistic behaviour within communities would go a long way in lowering the ecological footprint of villages, towns and cities.
A version of this article was originally published by WWF Cymru