Welcome to my eco-challenge. For the month of February I will be attempting to make my life as eco-friendly as possible without changing my lifestyle too much or succumbing to any of the following:
Sacrificing my Social Life
Living like a hippy
Routing through bins for leftover food
Eating inedible muck with no flavour
For all my life I have been environmentally conscious. In the 80’s and 90’s this meant recycling glass and having a compost heap in the back of the garden, not wasting water and not using CFCs. Most people never even thought twice about throwing something in their bin and in school we were taught that living “green” meant not littering the schoolyard. In the past ten years there has been a rise in eco-chic. Now it is not only possible, but fashionable, to recycle almost everything. I do recycle everything I can but is it enough?
A little less than a year ago I read an article in the National Geographic by a man who endeavoured to reduce his families carbon emissions. It weighed upon my mind and I wanted to do something similar but I didn’t know where to start. Similarly in 2008 a booklet the Guardian published caught my eye. It focused on a competition called Green Streets which British Gas was running. The article described the experiences of several communities who tried to lower their carbon emissions for prize money. The recommendations in these articles however involved financial investment and focused on home owners not a low income tenants. Lastly I heard a devastating report about a German family who sought to lower their emissions really got me thinking. The family had managed to do so much. They cycled more often instead of using a car and they had insulated and used renewable energy lowering their carbon emissions by a huge amount. Still they ended up above the emission level that scientists have estimated we all need to meet because they ate meat, and in particular beef. As a foodie this really got me depressed. I love bolognese or a good steak. Even more importantly I’m addicted to cheese and allegedly every litre of Milk takes 990 litres of water to produce. One of the best memories I have from my trip to Glastonbury is seeing a guy walk around with a t-shirt saying “Meat is murder, tasty tasty murder” amongst the thousands of vegetarian food vendors and new-age vegetarian hippies. So you can see my dilemma, I’m a person who would like to be kind to the environment but loves meat.
So finally, at the brink of my twenty-fourth birthday, I have decided to act. For at least one month I will investigate green living. The majority of websites about living eco-friendly are directed at home-owners and involved costly investments in solar power and insulating. I am not a home-owner and nor do I possess untold fortune so I hope this will be a balanced and realistic blog on how ordinary people can contribute to a greener world without spending a tonne of money or a tonne of carbon emissions. I hope to be objective and I will do my best to cut through different theories of environmental living and separate the bogus from the truth. With any luck I can do my bit to make Ireland truly the Emerald Isle once more.