Want to live more sustainably but don’t know where to start? Kinsale-based Dr Tara Shine, author of How to Save Your Planet One Object At A Time, has some simple ideas to get you started.
There are so many people who really want to make a positive difference to our planet, but just don’t know what to tackle first. I’m often asked for easy-to-understand information about everyday objects and habits with practical advice on changes you can make. So, to kick things off, I’ve chosen 10 things to you can do right now … and remember, we aren’t aiming for perfect, better is just fine!
The home office
1. Many of us are working from home so saving money by being more energy-efficient has never been so interesting! Remember to turn computers, printers, monitors and shredders off every night and at weekends to save energy. Vampire energy can add 20% to your bills.
2. Get a house plant (or two) to clean the air in your home office and keep you healthy and alert.
3. Take on the challenge of producing a plastic-free lunch. Swap single-use drinks bottles and yogurt containers for reusables. Get a nice lunchbox with compartments and get off to a healthy, zero-waste start to the term.
In the garden
4.Planting winter veg? Look for peat-free compost so that you are playing your part to protect our peat bogs and the wildlife that lives on them, as well as reducing the emissions that cause climate change.
5. The weather is still fine, so hang your clothes outside to dry on the line. Not using a tumble drier saves lots of electricity, money and carbon emissions. It also reduces the carbon footprint of your clothes.
6. If you have been doing DIY jobs over the summer, make sure to store leftover paint safely (away from heat and frost) so that you can use it for touch-ups in years to come. Never put old paint in the bin – it is hazardous waste and must go for disposal at a civic amenity site.
7. Autumn is approaching and soon we will turn the heat on again in our homes. Make sure you learn to use your thermostat and turn it down by 1oC to save you approx €90 a year.
8. If you have a stove, then switch from coal and briquettes and to kiln-dried wood to save emissions and reduce air pollution in your local area.
Parties and celebrations
9. Say no to balloons for parties! They can’t be recycled and as litter they pose a hazard to wildlife. Think about buying or making some colourful, reusable cloth bunting instead.
10. Next event on the calendar is Hallowe’en when millions of costumes will get worn only once or twice before being thrown in the bin. Look for second-hand, do a swap with neighbours and friends, or make your own.
Tara recently met a family in Kinsale for a Nationwide programme to help them make small changes to live more sustainably. It aired on Wednesday Sept 2nd and you can watch it back on The RTE player.
Dr Tara Shine’s book How to Save Your Planet One Object At A Time is for sale online from Dubray for €19.99 and in your local bookshop.