Wednesday 23 October 2019

Going green: 'You set the trend and your neighbours will follow' - Carina Conyngham of Rock Farm Slane

Greener Living: As part of our special on easy ways to tread softly on the planet, Rock Farm Slane's managing director Carina Conyngham sets the tone for her community

Caspar, Alex, Laragh, Carina and Rory Conyngham
Caspar, Alex, Laragh, Carina and Rory Conyngham

We're a busy household with three children aged between 10 and seven years old, two busy, untidy grown-ups and two dogs on a working organic farm and ecotourism destination.

Living up to one's green aspirations is a continual challenge when time is not on your hands. We also have the added challenge of looking after a child with special needs who is still in nappies, and demanding jobs that keep us away from home until late in the evening.

My approach to living as green a life as possible is to close the loop wherever I can. Those main loops are energy, water and all things material (clothes, food etc) that society currently calls waste. We produce as much of our own food as possible on the farm and what doesn't get sold, we eat ourselves. What we don't eat then goes to our dogs or our range of compost bins (wormery, bokashi bin and my new hotbox composter).

I avoid putting anything other than my daughter's nappies and the odd non-recyclable material into the landfill (black) bin and the bin is labelled as LANDFILL so that the whole family is clear on where it goes.

We plan our weekly menus based on what we have available on the farm and focus on buying in what is local and/or seasonal.

Places of origin are now listed on all goods, so you can actively avoid buying grapes from Chile in February and wait until they are available from the Netherlands (or your own garden pot) in July.

We keep the children's clothes as gender neutral as possible and pass them down several times, and then on to a younger family.

With my own clothes, I buy less and better, preferring high quality durable clothes that hopefully look the part but also last well. Anything I can buy secondhand I will. I've had my secondhand car for 10 years and drive it as little as possible.

If we all make small changes we can make a significant collective difference.

Walking the kids to school, fixing the leaking tap, paying for solar thermal panels: you set the trend and your neighbours will follow.

Carina’s three ways to go green

1 Reduce, re-use and only then recycle

This goes for everything: energy, water and waste.

2 Close the loop wherever you can

Watch the patterns of "waste" (energy, water and waste) in your house and change one thing at a time, eg ditch the tumble dryer when the weather allows and air dry your clothes.

3 Get your kids involved

They are the future and we are doing this for them. So ask them what they would do to make the family home more green. You'd be surprised what they know.

Irish Independent

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