Tuesday 15 October 2019

'We try to own only what we need and share what we use' - Adam de Eyto

My green life, Adam de Eyto, Head of School of Design, University of Limerick

Living as a human means impacting the planet in some way. Having worked as a designer/educator/researcher of products and service systems for 25 years, I study human consumption patterns. It's clear we are a long way down a destructive path to human extinction (along with most living systems on the planet).

It is easy to point to all that is wrong with our individualist, consumerist lifestyles but less easy to see how we can effect change. Those of us who work in the field of sustainability struggle with this like everyone else. As an eternal optimist, I believe we can use design and collaboration to lead humanity out of its demise and re-wild some of the planet we have messed up.

We have chosen to live a rural life, valuing community and fresh air over the 'efficiencies' of urban life. This has certain impacts on the wider environment: commuting by car, one-off housing, etc. It also gives us the chance to harvest our own energy, grow some of our own food, live lighter and slower, participate in the community and be close to the nature we look to protect. It is a privilege to live on the west coast of Ireland, in a relatively wild environment and to have meaningful, fulfilling work to support these choices.

We converted the shell of a Celtic Tiger 'ghost house' to a low-energy home eight years ago. Trying to be conscious consumers, buying local/organic food, and keeping bees and hens helps, as does trying to own only what we need and share what we use. Keeping the 10-year-old car means the embodied energy is maximised and balances out the limited fuel-efficiency gains of new vehicles. We will eventually go to an EV (electric vehicle) but it's not a magic solution. Long-distance air travel is the one thing we haven't reconciled. All drops in the ocean compared to the global challenges but they prepare us for the radical changes future generations will have to make.

As Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia founder) said, "The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It's so easy to make it complex. What's important is leading an examined life."

Adam’s three ways to go green

1 Consider how you might simplify your life and make the difficult choice to effect change.

2 Do some research into what it takes to keep bees and hens in the garden.

3 Spend family time out in nature - it keeps you in tune with what you are trying to protect.

Irish Independent

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