This isn’t the technique of watering down green paint and sponging it on a wall a la Changing Rooms circa 2000. This is the way people and corporations make a lot of noise about the environmental benefits or making claims about how green-friendly a thing is without following through. It’s also a way to capitalise on the growing desire to be more environmentally friendly.

This blog now has an instagram (@sustainableirelandblog) and Greenwashing is rife on there. Because artistic photos of your fridge and pantry are all the rage.

The key thing with changing your attitude towards waste is not to throw EVERYTHING out and start again by buying products from all over the world. You have already bought that plastic bottle of mayonnaise so use it. Then look at what you can do next time you need some mayo. Do you have chickens so you can make your own? Is there a brand of mayo that comes in a glass jar? Is it made locally, or at the very least within your country?

In the northern hemisphere it is currently summer. In Ireland it is currently trying to be summer. This is when you start thinking about winter. Can I do something to make my home manage heat better? If I can afford it can I look at insulation, replacing windows, or even going completely extreme and upgrading to solar, wind, or hydro? Is there a way I can preserve food that is in season now so I don’t have to buy imported items later in the year?

You do NOT need a bamboo bollocks of a scrubbing brush. Unless you live in China where it is grown, and you can boil it in hydrogen-peroxide yourself. Then knock yourself out. Your plastic one has already been made and entered the market; don’t add it to landfill hardly used.

Don’t just go and buy pasta and rice and throw away the packaging just so you can fill your over-priced Mason jars and post a photo on Instagram. If you can buy products loose then do it, but if the product comes in packaging then USE THAT. And then reuse it if you can!

Sustainability is about something you can keep doing. The onus is not just on you as an individual or a family. If you can’t buy rice loose then ask your supermarket or grocer to look in to it. Support local butchers (in Ireland meat comes from the area around the butcher, and at the very least from Ireland). Shop at farmer’s markets, if you have land then grow-your-own and maybe look in to swapping items with other grower’s locally. Make your own soap (don’t use melt-and-pour), learn how fix basic electronics, use your tap water instead of bottled water (and if you don’t live in a country with clean water look in to getting a filter if you can), buy used and reuse.

It’s not easy, and often options for one person are not available to another. Take one thing you can do and make that sustainable, then move on to the next.

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Living on a mountain in Ireland. Working towards being self-sufficient but starting with a conscious effort towards sustainability.

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