Thursday 14 December 2017

10 practical ways to help the environment

Eleanor Collier

Do you think about the environment but often wonder if you can do more to help?

Taking the first steps to getting involved is much easier than you think, as there are some fantastic local, community and national projects happening right now across Ireland - with the aim of working towards a more sustainable future.

There are massive environmental challenges for all of us on the planet right now and into the future and - while it might seem overwhelming we can all do our bit. Local solutions can often be the best way to start changing behaviour. Even taking small steps can make a massive difference.

There is room to expand our current understanding of what citizenship is so as to embrace a more proactive approach to caring for our local environment, the preservation and quality of places we live in, the conservation of resources, and more joined up social responsibility. We can be enabled for sure, but fundamentally the power of change is in our own hands.

To become sustainable we all need to change the way we act as consumers, in our homes and our businesses. The challenge is to do this within the planet’s capacity and ecological limits.

Ireland’s economy is growing again and we must balance our focus on growth with an emphasis on becoming more sustainable and reducing emissions.  Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency describes a sustainable Ireland as “a vibrant economy that offers a decent livelihood for all its citizens; people and communities that help and respect each other and underpinning this, a protected environment that allows us to live more healthy lives”.

So how can you be more proactive, become more socially responsible and help to enhance the quality of the area that you live in? 

Here are 10 practical ways you can help the environment in Ireland right now and engage on a deeper level with your community:

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1.  Are you Aware of the State of the Environment Report – Ireland?

We all own the environment and getting informed is the first step. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has produced a comprehensive report - Ireland’s Environment – An Assessment 2016 which provides an integrated assessment of the overall quality of Ireland’s environment, the pressures being placed on it and the societal responses to current and emerging environmental issues.  If you want to inform yourself with an accurate snapshot of the situation in Ireland right now, this report is compelling reading and a great source of information.

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2.  Citizen Science – We are all Scientists!

Citizen Science encompasses many different ways in which we are all involved in science. It’s the involvement of volunteers in science in projects of all different kinds across the country. These range from the garden bird survey run by Birdwatch Ireland to the public participation in the protection of our coastal zones run by Coastwatch.  See how you can get involved and find your own area of interest.

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3.  What’s the Story of your Stuff?

The Story of your Stuff is a novel new initiative which asks secondary school students in Ireland to get creative by telling the story of their stuff.  Entries for the 2018 competition will open in January and the EPA wants people to pick an object (any object), research its life story (how it’s made and what it becomes when it’s recycled) and visually tell its story.

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4.  Find Out How to Live Green

There are so many information sources that it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming but if you want to find practical steps on how you and your family can work towards a greener lifestyle, there is a great and comprehensive portal for householders called Live Green. This EPA initiative provides simple steps on waste prevention, water conservation, energy efficiency and much more and is a go-to site if you want to find out how small changes can make a big difference.

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5. Get Involved in Tidy Towns

Tidy Towns has done a huge amount to transform towns and villages around Ireland with massive help from local volunteers and communities. After nearly 60 years the competition is as popular as ever. Why not think about getting involved in your local area – from the environment to landscaping, sustainable living and organising events to help local wildlife and litter picks, the competition is a great way for all the community to work together.

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6.  Have you Pride in your Place?

The all-island competition – the Pride of Place Awards - acknowledges the work that communities are doing all over the island of Ireland. It’s about people coming together to shape, change and improve daily lives in their communities and it has now become one of the most prestigious community awards in Ireland. 

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7.  Is Your School A Green One?

We’re all working towards the future for the next generations so that they can enjoy a sustainable future. Green Schools is Ireland’s leading environmental management and award programme. Is your school involved?  It’s open to all primary and secondary schools and it’s a great way to start children thinking about the environment from an early age.

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8. Help to Protect our Precious Coasts

As an island nation, it is important that we do everything we can to protect our coasts – our beaches, the sea and marine life. Clean Coasts is a great way to get involved in helping out. There are hundreds of beach clean-ups annually to remove litter from beaches and there are initiatives such as photography competitions and the Ocean Hero.

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9. Did you know about Ireland’s Environmental Youth Organisation?

ECO-Unesco is Ireland’s environmental education and youth organisation that works to conserve the environment and empower young people.  If you know somebody aged between 12 and 18, this is the initiative for them as there are resource packs, activity packs, awards and training programmes all with the environment at the centre.

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10.  Check your Water Quality

Water is a precious resource and is essential for all life on earth. Looking after our rivers, lakes and coastal waters so that they can meet our current and future needs and also continue to support the ecosystems that depend on them is vital for Ireland’s future. Doing this at a community level is vital. You can arm yourself with information and check the quality of your water locally through the website catchments.ie, so that you will have a sense of how your local area is doing and be completely up to date.

Find out how you can get involved in working towards a more sustainable future for Ireland by clicking here

 

Sponsored by: EPA

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