The Eden Project is a multiple greenhouse complex, situated in Cornwall, in the U.K. Built from an old kaolinite mine, the complex consists of two biomes which play host to emulating various climates in order to house many different species of plants. The biomes are constructed from plastic hexagonal structures, which are inflated and supported by steel frames. The initiative proudly declares that all water is harvested from rainwater as well as collected from an underground drainage system, with the only water coming from the mains supply being for hand washing and cooking. Along with this, they have Green-Tariff approved electricity with the energy sourced from a wind turbine in the local area.
“The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.”
The Eden Project websites is completely transparent in that it states all relevant information and provides answers to most questions about their activity and vision on their website. According to them, the Eden Project was built simply more than just as a tourist attraction for Cornwall. They are a social enterprise that looks at ways to bettering our future with ecologically sound living and thinking. Apart from running as a kind of museum, and providing jobs in the local area, some of their larger projects involves the construction of a nationwide network of cycle and walking routes as well as a renewable geothermal energy plant (BBC News 2016) and (Edenproject.com 2016).
The site of the Eden Project prior to the construction of the Biomes
While it is unclear the intentions of Lottery UK to fund the initial construction of the biomes in 1995, there has been recent controversy surrounding the funding of the geothermal project. Rio Tinto, a British mining company has and is still funding its construction, something that seems like a complete conflict of interest. While it is idyllic to think that governments and companies would do the right thing for the environment, this simply does not occur as companies are profit driven and to some extent, governments sway in the favour of big business (Carney, 2006).
The move for a predominantly mining energy company to invest in renewable energy is a wise decision given the emerging markets. Not only should this form a moral dilemma for the Eden Project founders who boast a green and ecologically sound platform from which they originate, but also the public who continue supporting them through paid visits. For the Eden Project to accept coal money at this point seems like a backtrack on their original intentions as a green hub as well as indicates a possible transition from social enterprise to business model. Understandably any project with a degree of corporate involvement needs funding, however when the water starts to get murky as to where money is coming from and going, do people need to be critical so that they do not believe that a given institution is 100% perfect.
BBC News (2016). Routes scheme tops lottery vote. [online] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7140621.stm [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].
Carney, T. (2006). Policy Report: Big Business and Big Government. [online] Cato Institute. Available at: http://www.cato.org/policy-report/julyaugust-2006/big-business-big-government [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].
Edenproject.com. (2016). Top eco visitor attraction – rainforest, gardens & educational charity – Eden Project Cornwall UK. [online] Available at: http://www.edenproject.com/ [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].
All images are from the Eden Project website unless stated otherwise