May we dare to hope for some sun soon? Ireland’s weather is unpredictable at the best of times, but especially this year or so it seems. However, if we choose to believe the forecasts, we are in for a few weeks of solid sunshine later on in the summer. Time to get ready and start planning staycations, days out and backyard antics. While having fun and making memories should be on top of our lists, the wellbeing of our planet needs to take a close second. To make this as easy as possible we have compiled 10 tips for a more sustainable summer in Ireland.
1. Plant a Wildflower Garden
The warm months of the year are loved by us humans as well as by a lot of other species. Like bees for example, who are busy in sunshine collecting pollen and nectar for their colony, while at the same time pollinating a gigantic amount of plants. This means those little creatures are single-handedly responsible for a lot of the fruit we eat and a lot of the seeds we sow to start the cycle all over again.
With expanding urban areas and more and more highly landscaped gardens the bees are finding it hard to gather enough nectar and pollen to guarantee the survival of their colonies. Hence, the bees are dying, which in turn means less pollination is happening resulting in less fruit and seeds. What we can all do this summer is to try and make our outdoor spaces more bee-friendly.
The best way to do this is to plant a wildflower garden. Dedicate an area in your garden, loosen up the soil and sow some wildflower seeds, which are readily available online or in every garden centre, and watch the magic happen. If this option is not available to you, simply keeping one part of your lawn long and “wild” will make a difference or plant some bee-friendly plants in pots around your yard, patio or even balcony. These flowers and plants will not just attract bees, but also all kinds of butterflies and other wildlife.
Some bee-friendly plants include:
- Abelia bushes
2. Visit Farmer’s Markets
When you are combining a day out with a visit to a farmer’s market, you have the chance of combining pleasure with ticking a chore off your list by buying some of your weekly shop at the market. Buying from a market stall also means a super low carbon footprint while supporting local small businesses.
Often items on markets are entirely free of packaging or wrapped in compostable or entirely recyclable material. Most of the vendors on markets are from the area, which means any item you buy was grown or produced locally instead of being shipped halfway across the globe. Since many small farmers and growers don’t use any chemicals or preservatives, the food you buy at local markets is not just better for the planet, but also for your health.
However, the best thing about a farmer’s market is the unique atmosphere. Is there anything better than whiling away a morning in the sun between market stalls full of food with a freshly brewed coffee or tea in hand (in a reusable cup of course!)?
3. Start Growing Your Own Veg & Fruit
If you want to take your veg and fruit sourcing one step beyond buying from local farmers, you should look into growing your very own. In some cases, this might seem easier said than done as creating a growing patch in your garden might look to be very complicated or overwhelming. However, like with most things in life, it can be easily simplified. Instead of opting for large polytunnels or greenhouses in which you grow a huge variety of fresh produce, start with a window box of onions or radishes for example.
Once you have had your first growing success and got to enjoy the fruit of your work, you will feel motivated to expand bit by bit. Try and stick with low maintenance plants in the beginning and gradually climb up until you reach green thumb status excellent!
Low maintenance fruit & veg:
- Runner Beans
4. Create a Sustainable Summer wardrobe
With fast fashion on the rise, it has become common practice to update your wardrobe with every new season. Out with the old – in the with new, there isn’t much that is more harmful to the planet, than throwing something perfectly usable away to replace it with something else that has been produced unethically and from unsustainable materials.
If you like your fashion and love to add new pieces every season, there are a few easy steps you can take this summer to update your wardrobe in a more sustainable way. Instead of buying new, why not try second-hand shopping? Someone else’s old can be your new and also benefits your budget. You could also try and create a capsule wardrobe, which allows you almost infinite styling with only a few key pieces and accessories.
There’s no rule, that you can’t buy new though. But if you do, check the source and invest in good quality pieces which have been made in a planet-friendly way. And for your accessories, don’t forget to check out our range of sustainably made sunglasses, blue light glasses and of course watches!
5. Make Litter Picking a Thing
We have all arrived at a beach or in an area of natural beauty and have been appalled by the amount of rubbish around the place. It seems that as soon as the sun makes an appearance, some people’s common sense is clouded and instead of bringing their wrappers, cigarette buds, used nappies or even barbecues home, they are just leaving it behind for someone else to clean up or even worse, for the tide or wind to carry it further into nature where it continues polluting the environment and posing a danger to animals.
So, even though it might not be our rubbish, it is still our planet and our responsibility to keep it clean. While you can ensure to leave no trace wherever you venture this summer, you could even do one better by picking some of that litter up and dispose of it in the proper way. Go get yourself a pair of gloves, a litter picker and a bin bag and protect the environment one piece of rubbish at a time.
6. Bring Your Own
Regardless of the season, there is one simple thing we can all do to reduce the amount of packaging waste that ends up in landfill or in the incinerator: Bring your own!
This doesn’t just include the more and more popular reusable cup for hot take-away drinks, but also a reusable water bottle and some reusable containers for take-away food. If you are planning a road trip this summer and don’t want to bring your own snacks, maybe pack a little bag of reusables so your take-away food can be packaged up in those and you won’t end up with a car full of rubbish at the end of the day.
There is also an initiative of free water filling station around the country. So even if you run out of drinking water from your reusable bottle, you won’t need to fall back to buying a plastic bottle but can simply refill your own. Best to save the link for the Tap Map on www.refill.ie on your phone!
7. Use Environmentally-Friendly Sunscreen
Once the sun does grace Ireland with its presence, there is one thing you’ll probably find in every Irish house and that is sunscreen. Even though sunscreen is pretty much sold everywhere nowadays, it is worth doing a little research before you are getting your bottle of UV-protection this summer.
Conventional sunscreen can contain numerous questionable ingredients, like oxybenzone or homosalate among others which penetrate the skin and enter our bodies. They have been linked to contributing to a wide variety of health problems, such as skin problems or hormonal issues. It is not just our own health that is at risk by those ingredients though. When we apply sunscreen to our skin and swim in the sea, some of those ingredients enter the seawater and from there pollute coral reefs.
Opting for so-called physical sunscreens, rather than a chemical sunscreen this summer will therefore be better for YOU and the PLANET. This type of sunscreen stays on your skin and shields your body from UV-rays rather than being absorbed and converting UV-rays inside your skin into less damaging heat-rays.
Enjoy the Summer Sustainably
No matter how you choose to spend this summer and what kind of adventures you’ll get up to: Enjoy every minute of it, but also don’t forget about our planet! After all, with all those useful products we have access to and the vast knowledge at our fingertips, being responsible, sustainable and just simply doing the decent thing really isn’t difficult.