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‘We do not have time to wait for the kids to fix the planet’ –  Elaine Butler on her zero-waste journey

Instead of trying to cover the traditional ‘three Rs’, focusing solely on minimising your consumption is the best way to embrace sustainable living

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Elaine Butler is a writer, researcher and speaker on sustainable living. She runs the Living Lightly in Ireland website. Photo by: Mark Condren

Elaine Butler is a writer, researcher and speaker on sustainable living. She runs the Living Lightly in Ireland website. Photo by: Mark Condren

Elaine Butler is a writer, researcher and speaker on sustainable living. She runs the Living Lightly in Ireland website. Photo by: Mark Condren

It was five years ago when Elaine Butler made the discovery that dramatically changed the course of how she and her family live their lives. She had been writing policy for an environmental political party for several years, but even with that expertise under her belt, she was shocked to discover single-use cups were, at the time, neither recyclable nor compostable.

How did I not know this?” she recalls thinking. Butler, who lives in south Dublin with her husband and two children, began to research sustainable practices. To keep a record of her findings she began a blog, which became her website, Living Lightly in Ireland, a sustainable living guide.


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