Can Burning Wood Really Be Environmentally Friendly?

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When I was a young girl (I’ll be showing my age now) we heated our home using a wood-burning stove.

It sounds archaic now: the notion of throwing logs into a metal hole so that the whole house can be warmed, but it’s what we did for the entirety of my childhood.

This never occurred to me as something out of the ordinary until I went round to visit friends’ houses. When we played in their back garden I noticed that they didn’t have a chopping block, there were no wood reserves stored in the yard and no axes readily to hand. What were these people, savages?!

Of course these people weren’t living in a Victorian farmhouse, they were living in modern homes heated by gas. They didn’t rely on the fierce heat of burning logs to cook their food or heat their water, they simply pressed a few buttons on a box and the house was heated. They switched on the hob and fire would appear. ‘What luxury!’, I remember thinking at the time.

By the time I left home for University, I was already starting to form an idea of what living environmentally friendly meant and I was relatively certain that it didn’t entail throwing endless kilos of logs into a fiery inferno on a daily basis.

By the time I returned from University, fired up from my environmental lectures undertaken during my Geography degree, I was prepared to make my grievances with my parents’ antiquated style of living. That was until I noticed that the wood stock had been replaced by a compost heap. The collections of axes had found their way onto the walls of the house and seemed to be taking a more decorative approach to life. Lastly, I wasn’t greeted by a roaring fire on my arrival – a central heating system had been installed.

My Father greeted me with a smug look on his face. He had left me in the dark intentionally to take the wind from my sails – a classic move. I could tell at the time that he could barely contain his eagerness to show off his new contraption. In the back of the house, a warm glow lit the utility room and large hemp sacks crowded periphery. My parents were still burning wood – just not like they used to.

They’d replaced the faithful old wood-burning stove with a fuel efficient wood-pellet burner that heated the water and provided heating for the entire house, delivered through the recently installed system. But how was burning wood-pellets any better than big old logs?

My Father rolled his eyes, clearly unimpressed with the level of education that three years of University lectures had provided me. He explained that the wood fuel he purchased from Liverpool Wood Pellets was sourced from farms that used Short Coppice Rotation to efficiently grow and harvest wood with zero-impact on the environment.

Since installing their wood-pellet stove and starting up their compost heap, by parents have taken more interest in living an environmentally friendly lifestyle. They had always felt like I disapproved of their archaic lifestyle. After I graduated, they’d started changing their ways in a bid to appease my, now absent, grumblings.

What started out as the petulant complaints of a teenager turned into my very first Geography lesson. The change that they made over that summer – convinced me that teaching was the right path for me.

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