Ease your eco-anxiety with guided walks in nature, clinically proven to alleviate stress. Link in with like minded people, exchanging ideas, tips and reading recommendations. I'll start the ball rolling shall I?
It's definitely a thing. It is for me anyway. I sometimes panic and wonder if we'll be able to slow down this momentum towards disaster we've created and turn it around for ourselves. And I feel insignificant in the face of this enormous task. I was contemplating this, the whole Earth Hour thing a while back, Ireland’s Overshoot Day in April and the recent Earth Day thing.
Like you, as far as I'm concerned, Earth Day is an everyday thing. No rational person wants the destruction of our planet as we know it and the extinction of so many species – maybe even us…
But it’s just so overwhelming, isn’t it?
It’s often easier to convince ourselves that we’re already doing what we can, or, as many younger people have - just accept it all as inevitable.
Especially when political and economic systems are currently designed to actively work against our efforts. That all needs to be turned on its head – and it will happen – I just hope that humanity will be in time.
I don’t know about you, but things aren’t changing as fast as I’d like, as fast as it needs to change and the internal screaming can get quite loud. (Tell me I’m not the only one!?!)
Like any other form of stress or anxiety, I need to keep that in check. And I do this by reassuring myself that within the current broken system, my genuine, imperfect, best effort is all I can do.
I focus on what changes I can make today and continue to sustain into the future.
As Damon Gameau of ‘2040: The Regeneration’ aptly put it:
“If you’re going to sound the fire alarm, you have to show people where the exits are.”
Simple Sustainable Maintainable Swaps
These are some simple swaps that we’ve implemented at home over the past year or so. What have you tried?
- * Swap hand soaps sold in plastic dispensers for bars of soap. If you don’t like the mess that comes with that change back, do what I did and ask local Glenmalure potter, Hilary at Crannmór Pottery to make some soap dishes to fit your sink. Or – refill.
- * Refill on lots of things at places like Anniepooh in Greystones when you’re passing. With the big Australian chain moving into town, we know she must be doing something right. Staff are very helpful and will hold your washing up bottle under the refill tap for you while you browse. You might even pick up a Guppyfriend washing bag to capture any microplastics released from your synthetic base-layers and other clothing.
- * Next time you buy flowers, buy them from a sustainable grower like Sheelagh O’Malley at Top of the Hill Flower Farm in Newtownmountkennedy.
- * A little bit of planning goes a long way. If you’re prone to needing coffee, like me, then ensure you always have a clean reusable cup with you. Tack it on the end of your house lock-up routine. Coat – check, keys – check, coffee cup – check. Ones like Kambukka’s 300ml fit under most coffee machines – trust me…. I’ve tried a lot of machines with mine! Your water bottle is probably already in there somewhere. If not, get on that too.
- * Again with the planning…. Plan your grocery shopping. Menu planning not only cuts down on your food bill, but also cuts down on food waste which is one of the biggest things we can actively play a role in. Freeze fruit or make soup from vegetables on the turn. Compost anything that is left over. Putting it in the standard refuse bin will result in methane emissions. Buy loose items when you can. Choose card or glass over plastic (looking at you ketchup and mayonnaise!). Leave any unnecessary packaging with the supermarket to keep driving home that message to reduce packaging.
- * Try to eat less meat, less dairy and increase your plant-based foods. You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan to make an impact. Start with just 1 less meat-based dinner a week. Perhaps cut out meat for lunches too. By default, it’s also less packaging and improves your general health. We’ve had to take a gently, gently approach in our house with this so as not to cause any backlash. Kid1 is a total carnivore and traditionalist when it comes to food. The adults now only use nut milk and we are down to 1 beef dinner, 1 chicken dinner and 1 salmon dinner with a 4th meat dish made using either chorizo, chicken or seafood. The easiest meals to swap out were curries and pasta dishes. But it has taken time to get this far and we still fall off the wagon every now and then – usually as a result of poor planning, hectic schedules, missed shopping or whatever. You know yourself. We’re all busy. We just try to get back on track the following week.
- * Try to spread the love a bit if you can afford to. Visit your local veg shop and butcher. Don’t give all your hard earned cash to supermarket giants. Even if you support local businesses just once a month, it’s better than not at all.
- * Pledge your garden to help the bees. Check out the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. Your garden, your housing estate, even your workplace. Every little bit helps. Our garden is completely wild at the moment, the grass is long, there are dandelions, clover, fumitory, cuckoo flowers, nettles and wild garlic in among the stuff that we actually planted. But you know what, as wild as it is, I love sitting in it and hearing the hum of the bees. #NoMowMay
- * If you love your garden, make sure you choose peat free compost over moss peat and keep the weeds at bay by trying your hand at no dig gardening.
- * Implementing a ‘swear jar’ type situation for energy – we give pocket money for jobs around the house. Kid 1 looks after the compost. Kid 2 looks after the recycling. They receive their pocket money by junior revolut. If they leave their bedroom light on – which was often the case before school – they now lose 50c, I can simply withdraw it from the card. Digital genius! Even the threat of it made them think twice!
Some hopeful, easy reading & viewing I can recommend
- * A Short Hopeful Guide to Climate Change (Oisín McGann): This was gifted to me by a friend. A really nice, entertaining little book directed at younger readers (9+), but suitable for all ages.
- * Drawdown – the most comprehensive plan ever to reverse global warming (edited by Paul Hawken) Published in 2017 with a 2020 review available online. A thoroughly researched, indepth book to dip in and out of.
- * 2040 – the film, available to rent online.
- * From What is to What if (Rob Hopkins): Recommended to me by an Instagram buddy, this book will get your imagination going on solutions, particularly for urban areas. A bit repetitive in places, works well as a eBook.
- * Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism (John Elkington): Elkington is considered the godfather of sustainability and CSR. It was he who coined the phrase ‘Triple bottom line’ or ‘People, Planet, Profit’ as it’s sometimes termed. It was an interesting read though not as much of a roadmap as I would have liked.
For anyone interested in economics, I’d also recommend:
- * Doughnut Economics (Kate Raworth): Raworth pops up everywhere when you’re reading about the state of capitalism and how to fix the planet. And for good reason. A brilliant book. A fair amount of historical data to set the scene before the juicy stuff, but very thought provoking, particularly as an economics graduate.
- * The Value of Everything (Mariana Mazzucato): Again a lot historical economics to set the scene on how the term ‘value’ has been used and abused in capitalism. Interesting, researched backed perspective of how value has been sucked from society by short term thinking.
I have purposely not linked the books to amazonian style giants. Why not visit or order from your local bookshop instead?
Guided Walks in Nature For Conservation
We always knew time spent in nature was good for the soul. But thanks to 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, we now know exactly how much - or how little we need to maximise the benefits. Just 20-30 minutes spent gently in nature actively reduces cortisol levels in saliva by 21% and the amylase enzyme (another indicator of stress) by as much as 28%.
We have decided to host a series of guided short walks under the banner of “Earth May” to leave you feeling grounded and with a deeper connection to our local environment. As well as the chance to connect with like-minded people.
Sunday morning 15th May 10am: Meeting Point: Shop
Saturday afternoon 28th May 2pm: Meeting Point: Shop
Thursday Evening Sunset Hike 26th May 6pm: Meeting Point: TBC
Each guide has volunteered their time so that 100% of the proceeds will be donated via our Facebook Page directly to our conservation partners Burren Beo Trust. Minimum donation of €20pp, but feel free to donate more.
For further details and booking: https://www.adventure.ie/earth-may