The following guide encompasses several tips which will help you reduce your environmental impact on the world!

As I always say, no one is perfect, or can be. Sustainability to me, is simply a journey - with which everyone is starting at different points - and once we are all hoping to end up at the same destination, it doesn't matter how we got there.

To me, this also means we need to pick our 'route' carefully.
By that I mean, choose the tips that I have listed below that suit your life first. Embed them into your daily, weekly or monthly practices.

 

In that way, by doing what suits you, you are; A) More likely to make real change as the new habits will be easier implemented and B) be more likely to burn-out out or get simply fed-up in trying to do too much.

When it come's to sustainability, don't try keep up with the Joneses.
Another way I like to think about it is we are all the one football team, we may have a captain, we may have a coach, we may have some people who are faster, stronger and more capable than others - but we still rely on everyone to ensure we succeed each year, even the role players like the guys who collect the bibs or help collect the water bottles.

 

Everything comes down to behaviours, habits & small change. If these small changes, don't suit our lives - we won't embed them into our lives.

So anyway, here is a list of areas that you can review and their potential impacts from a variety of renowned sources compiled into one simple guide, to help you be Sustainable as F#ck this year.
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1) Meatless Mondays - or any day for that matter

By swapping meat out for one extra day a week, you can reduce your Carbon footprint by 604kg - equivalent to driving 2,482km less each year.

Also, did you know Palm Oils in your foods are one of the leading causes of deforestation.

 

 2) Hit the Switch!

According to Electric Ireland, up to 20% of the energy required to power your TV is still consumed if left on Standby e.g. a 32 inch LCD TV on standby for 16 hours a day it will cost you approx 68c per month or €8.22 per year.

TIP: Have you seen the automatic plugs that turn off each night at a certain time limiting consumption? 

 

3) Be cool, lower the temperature when washing clothes

Wash your clothes at a lower heatdry outside to reduce energy usage and expenses. (where possible, let's face it - this can be tricky in Ireland)This can reduce your laundry's energy consumption by 50% according to the EPA.

 

4) Food Waste

Limit food waste and Start Composting! By trying small things like shopping more regularly, you can potentially manage your fridge that little bit better each day, this is what I do and it has worked a treat! More than 25% of food produced is wasted contributing to 8% to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as it being a moral and ethical concern too whilst also helping your pocket be up to €700 lighter each year.

 

5) Turn off the Tap!

Did you know that leaving your tap running whilst brushing your teeth can waste ~15 litres of waterNow think about how long your showers are!? In comparison, there's a town in India called Chennai where locals live off less than 30 litres a day for washing, cleaning and cooking per family!

 

6) Your Electricity Provider?

Review your electricity providers for cheaper rates. This may not be possible if you're renting. By swapping to renewables, you're assisting with Market Demands signalling the need & desire to phase out reliance on Fossil Fuel Energy. Don't underestimate Supply & Demand.

 

7) The power of an Ugly Jumper?

Close the windows, put the feet up and stick on a jumper, (even an ugly one) before turning the heating on! Less heating on, less energy used, more money in your BankResidential Energy usage decreased by 4.6% in 2021 according to SEAI.

 

8) Plastic-free home

Approx 4.5% of Global Emissions can be attributed to plasticEach 500ml plastic bottle requires approx 125ml of Oil to manufacturer before shipping & transport emissions are accounted for. Plastic is also linked to various health issues due to BPA and PET which are known as endocrine disrupters.

 

9) Recycling delays, rather than solves

Your plastics must be clean, loose and dry in Ireland.  While "soft plastics" can now be recycled across Ireland, it's best to avoid where possibleRecycling a can saves ~90% energy over using Raw material.

 

10) My favourite, Narcissips Reusables

This one is my favourite & it's the simplest thing we should all feel obliged to do. One single use bottle a day, multiplied by our population... That's a lot of waste. Be a person of change and be proud to walk around with your Reusable.

 

11) Go Easy on Yourself

While flying has an extremely bad reputation & impact, it's not something we do daily in comparison to driving. Driving contributes to over 40% of transport emissions but flying being only ~20%. Also, let's not forget we live on an Island which does make it tricky sometimes if you want to visit friends and family.

TIP: Public transport is starting to get cheaper with the new rates announced by Transport Ireland!

 

12) Pride

Take pride in your village. If you see some rubbish, maybe pick it up. It will; 

A) Lead to others doing the same 

B) Lead to others feeling bad for littering

C) or atleast, mean one less plastic bottle is on the streets either way.

 p.s. This includes your dog waste!!!

 

13) Got Milk?

200ml of Dairy Milk a day will contribute to a carbon footprint of 229kg per annum or the equivalent to driving 941km. In comparison, Soy Milk produces 71kg or Almond 51kg in comparison. Non-dairy milks also use up to 60% less water. This area does get complicated then with other environmental considerations.

 

14) Proper Chats

Learn how to have proper climate-related conversations. This one is tricky but the best advice I can give is avoid being 'Politician', 'Preacher' or a 'Prosecutor' condemning others & aim to be an empathetic Scientist. 

(I will cover in more detail soon).

TIP: You can read Adam Grant's Think again where there is a chapter dedicated towards this idea.

 

15) Where is your Money?

Pensions are an under-utilised & discussed topic in terms of climate change & sustainabilityA Pension with a €100k moved from a traditional fund to a Green Fund can have the same impact as removing 5-6 cars from the road.

Be mindful of Greenwashing.

 

16) Do I need this?

 The most basic question we can all ask - and more often than not, we don't. Yes, it's nice to treat ourselves but don't fall into the traps of consumerism. Buy better, Buy Less.

Without getting too philosophical, the better we get at having less, the happier we will be... and smaller our impact!

 

17) Hungover?

Avoid Hangover Purchases (Speaking to myself here). Please don't tell me I was the only one? Just while we're on the subject too, recent research showed that a pint of the black stuff (Guinness) has a Carbon Footprint of 170g.... :)

TIP: Much better to get your endorphins from activities when hungover rather than shopping I think

 

18) A stitch in time saves 9

Learn to sew. Originally, Orange was the new Black but now 'Green' is the new everything. As a man that suffers with thick thighs, learning to sew was a fantastic addition to my armour.

Google 'Fast Fashion & the Atacama' to see why avoiding fast fashion is beneficial.

 

19) Self Care

How do you look after yourselfHow many disposable razors or other male /female 'care products' do you go through a year? 'Care products' are strongly linked to the single-use mentality we need to try avoid, where possible.

 

20) Support Local

By choosing local; 

- we can save various transport emissions

- ensure our Taxes stay in the country and contribute to our nations development and lastly

- by supporting Irish Businesses, you’re being sound - simple as!

TIP: Buying soap from another country, when available in Ireland, means a portion of your money is repatriated abroad

 

21) Go Easy on yourself!

The best thing about sustainability is that no one can do it perfectly! The easiest thing to do is to start small, with something that suits your life, which will inevitably make it easier to build that habit.

If we compare or try to do too much, we might burn out or give up.

 

Ultimately

I hope you may have learned something from the last few slides, but this next bit is important, to me anyway.

 From recent chats & discussions, one thing that stood out was several people noting that

 "there is so much going on, I don't know where to start"  

At a basic level, we all still need a behavioural and attitude shift to realise that yes, this is a big issue and somewhat all-encompassing however the fact that it is so large, means we can start literally anywhere. 

By starting with habits that suit our lives, we can make our little difference, and that's that can be expected of us. We don't need or deserve to be hard on ourselves for the most part, once we get the basics right & try our best. Your best may be very different than mine, and that's fine - once we're all moving in the same direction.

Written by Cathal O Reilly

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