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Make A Difference

Make A Difference – new year a time to make a change

A new year, a new you. Do you resolve to be fitter, slimmer, less stressed? Or is your only resolution to have no resolutions? Regardless, the start of a new year is a good opportunity to stand back and consider if we are doing what is important in our lives. And one of those important things, whether we like it or not, is our reaction to the climate crisis. A recent EPA survey showed that 85% of respondents are worried about climate change and almost the same amount – 80% – thought they personally should be doing more. For many of us, we simply don’t have the time, energy or headspace at the moment to deal with it. We are doing our best just to get by. Whatever we do or don’t do, it is our responsibility to the children of today to take informed and conscious action – and doing nothing is an action. Depending on our current state …

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Make A Difference: Dreaming of a Green Christmas

CHRISTMAS, a time for getting together with family and friends, exchanging gifts, eating and drinking, talking and laughing. At religious ceremonies around this time, the Christian churches encourage their congregation to consider the meaning of Christmas. Christian churches and other religions have also become more vocal in encouraging action regarding climate change. Pope Francis in his encyclical letter in 2015 stated, “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” Christmas is a time to put our worries aside if we can, including those about this environmental challenge. Instead of worrying, doing something to reduce our climate impact can increase our enjoyment – and be easier on the wallet. A time for giving It’s interesting to think back on previous Christmases and consider the highlights. Gifts are certainly an important part, both giving and receiving. Do you remember what you gave and received last year? A …

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Make A Difference: reducing waste and upcycling

In our most recent Make A Difference article here Bridget Ginnity explored how we can control our consumerism and waste generation. Here she profiles a group and an individual tackling waste in different ways Christy Collins, Shannon Men’s Shed We pick up old stuff from the recycling centre and do them up, bikes, old timber and so on. We use wood we get to build outdoor furniture of the primary schools, buddy benches, picnic benches, bug hotels and so on – maybe we need buddy benches in parks for adults too. We upcycled old steel seats from Shannon park for the new wetlands area, and they’re like new. We are lucky to have a premises in the industrial estate, with three workspaces and a meeting room. The meeting room is the best part of it, it’s great to see men talking, an alternative to the pub We make all kinds of thing. We have a woodturning lathe that is great …

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Make A Difference: don’t ‘waste’ opportunities

In Make A Difference, Bridget Ginnity explores how we can control our consumerism and waste generation STUFF. We are surrounded by it. Or are you an exception? Maybe your personal style is minimalist, with a single ornament against all white walls. Or perhaps you did a Marie Kondo in the past year and asked yourself what sparked joy in your home, and chucked out the rest. But for many of us, our shelves are cluttered, our wardrobes bulging with clothes that we’ll fit into next year, our sheds a danger to walk into. A lot of stuff is so cheap that even with a tight budget, we often don’t have to curb our impulse to buy. The price is low, but the cost is high. The carbon emitted to manufacture and transport all this stuff is causing the earth to warm and, like us when we are developing a fever, the earth is restless and uneasy. Floods, forest fires, heat …

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Make A Difference: Flying to a better climate

In Ireland, aviation accounts for 20% of the carbon emissions from transport. Bridget Ginnity highlights some changes we can make as individuals to reduce our impact on the climate. There’s something about the fading autumn days that turns our thoughts to holidays abroad. Maybe it’s the allure of a seaside holiday without fleeces, an outdoor meal without the patter of raindrops or prices that don’t break the bank. And there’s definitely the desire to see family – many of us have loved ones living abroad that we haven’t seen and hugged in so long, it almost hurts. After travel restrictions were lifted, heading abroad became a possibility again. After two summers of staycations and few if any visits with family abroad, some of us were like a greyhound from a trap at the prospect of foreign holidays. But the news is filled with disasters linked with climate change and can make us feel guilty, defensive or anxious about flying abroad. …

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Make A Difference: Get down to Electric Avenue

In Make A Difference, given cars will remain in our lives for some time yet, Bridget Ginnity explores the options ELECTRIC cars are hailed as the new kid on the block but in fact they aren’t that new. Back when the environmental challenge was getting rid of horse dung from the streets, the main contenders to replace horse-drawn carriages were electric and internal combustion (petrol) cars. Henry Ford of Model T car fame and the inventor Nikola Tesla put a lot of effort into developing electric cars with a longer range but to no avail and the internal combustion car took over. It wasn’t until Elon Musk took over the mantle that batteries really improved. His Tesla range includes the Model 3, named in honour of the Model T. Musk shared his battery technology with the major car manufacturers to get them moving and all the major automotive companies now offer electric cars. As part of the climate action plan, …

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Make A Difference: Make your shopping greener

To buy or not to buy, that is the question. Bridget Ginnity highlights some changes we can make as individuals that will help reduce global carbon emissions by thinking before we buy. Have a look around you, perhaps at the paper or device you are reading this on. Consider the human skill and ingenuity that goes into making the things you see. Trees planted, minerals mined, inks blended, products assembled, shipped and sold. So many stages, so many people involved, it’s truly impressive. Just about every stage of manufacture and sale of things we use involve fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. This gives rise to the extreme fires, floods, storms and heatwaves that are encircling our world. Making and shipping products, including food, causes over 40% of the global carbon emissions. It doesn’t take a research project to figure out that buying fewer goods will reduce carbon emissions. But realistically, we need to buy essentials and want to buy …

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Make A Difference: Keep the heat in and cold out

Our environmental column with Bridget Ginnity explores ways you can heat your home more sustainably THE nights are drawing in, and it won’t be long before we are switching on the heating and sitting by a blazing fire. As Ireland is a temperate climate, you’d imagine that we would have lower carbon emissions from heating than most of Europe. In fact, it’s about 60% above the EU average. It’s because we use more energy than average and use mainly fossil fuels – oil, gas, coal and turf. Any step we can take to eliminate or reduce the use of fossil fuels in home heating is a step in the right direction to reduce the damage we are doing to the earth. And it gives a warmer home and lower bills so it’s win-win-win, warmer-cheaper-greener. If your house was built prior to 2010, it probably has a Building Energy Rating (BER) of C or worse. Definitely a “could do better” grade. …

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