If you walk just a few hundred meters from the CPN headquarters, above the line of the trees, you can see the ocean. It's the Sea of the Hebrides, just east of the Atlantic Ocean, and it completely surrounds the 30 square kilometres we call home. On a clear day from a high enough vantage you can see not only the mainland of Scotland stretched out lazily across the eastern waters, but the mountains of Skye to the north, the broken volcanic peaks of Rum in the west, and the small low island of Muck quietly sleeping in the south.
We are on an island surrounded by islands, connected to each other, but also limited, by the ocean and air and whatever we can send across them.
On our little island we have limited resources available, so planning how we'll use them is particularly important. Really, it's a kind of ecosystem. We need fuel for our ray burner, and we can't always rely on the solar panels for heating. We have a garden which has been planned and planted to provide produce at different times - at the moment the first of our apple trees are ripening, and each is a different variety so we can get fruit over several months. There's the food from the garden, and food from other places. We have to think ahead, plan our meals. And of course there's waste. We want and need to reuse as much of what we have as possible. We compost, find new uses for containers, turn broken bits of wood into fuel. What we can't reuse goes to our island's small waste centre, and there's only so much that can go in there.
In that regard it's a little bit like our planet. Earth is a limited space with finite resources. But unlike the planet, we're able to get support from the other islands around us to help with our food, materials for building things, fuel for machinery. The space around our planet isn't easy to traverse, like the oceans and air can be. It doesn't provide us with food, and there's no one at the other end.
On Earth, we don't have anyone or anywhere else to turn to. We've just got a series of islands, large and small, spread across 326 million cubic miles of ocean and surrounded by air and atmosphere.
It's like that oft-quoted poem:
No man is an island,John Donne
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
We all live on an island, and each island is part of the larger, closed ecosystem that makes up our planet.
It's a system that's in trouble. We all know that by now. We've been using resources faster they can be replaced, creating things that can't be reused and then discarding them, changing the balances to create a world that won't be able to support the life that already lives there.
But it's nice to think, looking across the sea to those other small islands, that we're not alone in finding ways to keep that ecosystem running.
Our work is about finding, doing and supporting things that will help right now to make the planet cleaner. Our focus is pollution, but when we're thinking about the problems we take a big picture view, thinking about not just how to clean up the mess we've already made but how people can practically reduce pollution. And we'll be looking to those thousands of other organisations and groups across oceans, on different islands, who're looking at the same problems to connect with them.
This blog will be the place for you to stay updated on our work and the latest environmental news, but also to get ideas and tips for how to live more sustainably. We'll be sharing some of our own experiences with you in this blog, as well as progress on our different projects and campaigns and global news and information about pollution.