Sarah Goodyear investigates a small English town that has become a model of sustainable one-upsmanship.
Everyone knows about keeping up with the Joneses, but Ashton Hayes, a commuter village in western England, may be the first place where keeping up with the Joneses can mean saving money instead of spending it-by keeping down energy costs and consumption.Until recently, Ashton- as the locals call it-was an affluent, sleepy community of just 1,000 people. But last year the village was unexpectedly transformed into a model for grassroots efforts to fight climate change.Aiming to become the first carbon-neutral village in the United Kingdom, Ashton residents have mounted an aggressive campaign that is equal parts competition and collaboration, replacing incandescent bulbs, installing solar panels, planting trees, and boosting their recycling. Given the huge number of variables, it's unlikely that anyone will ever know when (or if) the village will fully attain its goal. But it is already setting an example with a well-stocked website, a promotional video, and even a rap song performed by the local kids.The man responsible for Ashton Hayes's unusual initiative is Garry Charnock, a 53-year-old who has lived there for 25 years. After attending a debate on global warming in 2005, Charnock decided he had to take some kind of action.\n\n\n
|Kids began turning off not just the lights but their Xboxes as well.|