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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Praise for town's 'green' residents
Residents have been praised for their use of recycling schemes
Residents of a mid Wales town have been praised for their awareness of environmental schemes.

The Welsh Consumer Council (WCC) said that residents in Machynlleth were "very clued-up" about recycling and energy-saving schemes.

In research funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Issues (Defra), WCC found eco-friendly initiatives in the town had made an impact.

The town is home to a number of companies set up to develop sustainable living schemes.

Jennie Bibbings, senior policy officer at the WCC, said: "We carried out some consumer research in Machynlleth and we were struck by the fact that most of the local residents we interviewed were very clued-up about things like recycling, saving energy, and solar panels.

"The residents we spoke to said this was largely down to community-based initiatives such as Eco-Dyfi and the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), and the practical examples of sustainable living which they had introduced to the community.

"The UK Government should be looking to places like Machynlleth for best practice on how to encourage more widespread change."

Machynlleth is home to several environmental projects

The Eco-Dyfi Project, founded in 1998, is a regeneration company in Machynlleth with projects focussing on waste, transport, tourism and renewable energy.

Teresa Walters, its sustainable tourism officer, said: "The comment by the consumer council reflects the hard work of many people.

"We hope its comments inspire more people to be more environmentally aware.

"It's not just us, though.

"CAT has made a huger impact and there have been spin-offs from it such as local green businesses and tourism.

"And many people who pre-existed both us and CAT have really embraced such things as recycling and are willing to open their minds to the benefits.

"They recognise that sustainability is economically viable too."

Ms Walters added that the Eco-Dyfi Project's workers composted their lunch and nearly all the packaging.

The Centre for Alternative Technology, based near Machynlleth, attracts 65,000 visitors a year to its research and demonstration centre, which aims to inspire, inform and enable people to explore new ways of living.

The centre, which opened in 1975, contains a range of interactive displays on wind, water and solar power, green transport and energy efficiency.

During the past 10 years, CAT's education courses have expanded.

In 1994, 280 people attended courses at the centre. By last year more than 1,300 people signed up for 56 different courses.

The WCC added: "Communication can only support other initiatives which show people, rather than just tell them, what sustainability means in practical terms.

"Government should look to best practice from community initiatives, such as those in Machynlleth.

"Most people do not change their behaviour after watching government information adverts on TV - but they do learn from watching their friends and neighbours."

The Welsh Consumer Council is a body which aims to represent users of goods and services in Wales.

It also carries out research on behalf of consumers.

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