Breaking up is hard to do… goes the tune… and while a departure from the well-known lyrics, breaking up with ourselves, and our own go-to habits and behaviours can be a tricky one too. The good news is, breaking up with some of our old ways ain’t such a bad thing, and may have you thinking why you haven’t been doing this all along.
Taking on healthy habits or changing what we do, how we do things, and how we interact with our surroundings can add greatly to quality of life and not subtract. Some habits are just worth losing!
As our climate concern grows, so too does the want to contribute positively by taking action. But sometimes it’s the getting started that can be the head-scratcher. By using a few helpful resources to guide you on new and better habits, or to support you to make more informed choices, you’ll be reaching your green living goals, and even making new goals, in no time. And while significant responsibility sits with governments, and businesses to drive change at scale, we too can make a difference through individual and collective action.
Get set. Ready. Go…
Calculating your carbon footprint is a good way to get started. Using a carbon calculator can help build a picture of the amount of carbon dioxide you use. The calculator only takes a few minutes and while it’s not in-depth, it is a good way to take a peek and get the mind focused. Looking at lifestyle, shopping habits, travel norms, diets, and energy usage, these calculators can be used by businesses, individuals, and/ or families. There’s a good number of calculators available, and they’re all very easy to use. While it can be started as an exercise in curiosity, it’s also a great way to get to know your starting point. For more information on this, check out the EPA website.
There are some really great resources that can support in giving you ideas, and in guiding you towards areas where you can make a change. The Useless Project is a fantastic online resource, with the tagline of ‘start small, use less’, there is something for everyone here across fashion, food, lifestyle, and DIY. Guiding you on making hanging baskets from old shirts to a directory on plastic-free shopping, this is a treasure trove of interesting, inspiring, and quirky avenues to grow your sustainability awareness while empowering you to learn new skills and take action. There’s also the incredibly insightful and knowledge-packed book from Dr. Tara Shine, How to Save Your Planet, One Object at a Time. This will have you humming with can-do optimism and championing your household’s green living goals. A great resource for everyone to have nestled on the kitchen table, ready to take most every curious pondering and return a solution.
Eating less meat is a great way to make an impact and reduce your carbon footprint. Having meat-free Mondays or flip that to having meat one day a week even, can have a really big impact. Going vegan isn’t the only way, though if you are looking to explore vegan options near you or abroad, check out this really handy HappyCow directory that’ll have you tasting all sorts of deliciousness.
When it comes to fashion and checking into the sustainability of brands and the validity of sustainability claims, Good On You is a fantastic resource and can be downloaded as an App to your phone. With a tagline of ‘Wear the Change You Want to See’, the team at Good On You have read between the ‘seams’ for you with this platform the leading source of fashion brand ratings. And there’s Nuw Wardrobe to keep you current and hitting those fashion goals through a social network to share clothes with people in your local community. Extending the life cycle of wardrobes in Ireland and the UK, so that fabulous dress or kick-ass suit of yours gets a pretty hectic social life of its own.
And remember, reducing our daily carbon footprint can be greatly reduced by our actual footprint, walk more, drive less. Or dust off your old bike and get pedalling. Choose public transport bus and rail when you can.
How we use energy and more to the point, how we waste energy is a big big issue. One-quarter of all energy consumed in Ireland is used directly in our homes, second only to transport, and more than is used by industry. Put plainly we are using too much, and we are wasting a huge amount of this. Improving the energy efficiency of our homes is a big part of the sustainability jigsaw. Through better-insulated homes, and the use of more efficient energy solutions we can greatly improve their energy rating, use less, and use energy more efficiently. Though it’s a bigger undertaking for sure and is not always in the immediate wheelhouse of possibility, it’s good to know where to go to get a helping hand to explore options. In 2021, Tipperary Energy Agency and Electric Ireland joined forces to launch Superhomes, providing a long-overdue ‘one-stop shop’ for those seeking to retrofit their homes. Superhomes ‘design your home’s energy solution and look after all the key stages, from tender through to the payment of SEAI grant funding.’ This is great to see and a very welcome support for homeowners looking to upgrade their homes, with the goal to take the hassle out of retrofitting, creating a seamless start to finish solution to guide and support.
Creating your biodiversity oasis
Imagine a thriving little butterfly border at the back of the garden, alive with colour and the hum of activity. You’re after a busy day’s work, sipping on a well-deserved cup of tea and you’re enjoying the scents and intoxicating calm of a wildflower medley. Or perhaps it’s a garden pond or both. Daydream no further, this handy guide on Gardening For Biodiversity from the Local Authority Heritage Officers Network is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to develop the biodiversity of their oasis. From creating a bog garden to a rain garden, a wildflower patch to caring for birds, to adding the GoldStar plants for biodiversity, this is a great booklet to support you to hone your gardening superpowers.
And so concludes the whistlestop tour introducing a few handy resources that can support you to reach your green living goals. These are just the tip of the iceberg, and I’m sure don’t capture all that you might be curious about, though it’s reassuring to know that even at a glimpse there is a super array of apps, books, guides, online resources, and communities that you can tap into. And remember, “the present is not a potential past; it is the moment of choice and action”, the wise words of Simone de Beauvoir (9 January 1908 – 14 April 1986; French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist, and social theorist).
Every day we can choose to act.