Green Habits for Lent

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Below is the start of a list of some Green Habits that you might like to take up this Lent. You can make a pledge of what you will do at the Eco Parish display in both churches.

 

1. Parish Eco Team:

The parish has decided to focus its efforts over the coming weeks and months to become more aware of its actions in the day-to-day running of the parish. This includes how the parish uses its energy, heating, lights, how it recycles, and how it tends to the grounds. Is the parish energy efficient? Is the parish recycling and not creating waste? Are the parish grounds treating the wildlife with respect and a place where wildlife can flourish?

 

There are all very important questions for the parish community to answer and act upon. We have many plans and steps to take. The first step has been getting in touch with the organisation, Eco Congregation Ireland. The organisation works with different faith communities to help them become more eco aware and take the necessary steps to move forward. Our second step is to form a team that will work together to achieve the goal of becoming an eco-parish, to survey what is needed on how to achieve these goals, take the steps that are needed and work towards achieving the Eco Congregation Awards.

 

Are you interested in gardening? Energy options? Water use? Recycling? Energy use? The why not think of joining the parish Eco Team to help work towards the parish achieving the Eco Congregation Awards?

 

Could you sign up to being part of the Parish Eco Team?

 

2. Shop Local:

Shop as local as possible, particularly for fruit and veg. The average number of kilometres that our food travels has doubled over the last 30 years. Since 1992, the amount of food flown overseas has increased by 140%.

 

Food transport accounts for one quarter of all heavy-goods vehicle miles in Ireland, and estimates of the carbon emissions caused by food transportation range from 1.8% to 3.5% of Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

 

95% of the fruit and 50% of the vegetables we consume are imported. Whilst only 1% of food is transported by air, it accounts for 11% of carbon emissions.

How our food is grown makes a big difference too. If it’s grown locally, rather than imported, the emissions and impact of that food goes down. The environment is better and local farmers benefit. It is estimated that buying food originating from within a 20km radius would save over €2.3 billion in fuel and environmental costs per year.

 

You’d also be supporting your local economy. Increased local spending has a ‘multiplier’ effect, as money spent locally typically re-circulates again at least 2 to 3 times, not just on wages and local suppliers, but also on services like accountants, marketing, printing, insurance, distribution, cleaning and so on.

Buying locally means a shorter supply chain and a more transparent supply chain, so you can get to know (even see) where your food comes from, who produces it, and be more in touch with the seasons.

 

Of course, the most locally sourced food is food that you produce yourself! Could you grow your own tomatoes or potatoes?

 

 

Could you commit to shopping locally this Lent?

 

 

 

3. Transport:

It is estimated that the excessive burning of fossil fuels, such as petrol, for powering cars has contributed to 0.6° of climate change about pre-industrial levels. That’s over one-third of the 1.5° that scientists warn could cause irreversible consequences.

 

And it’s not just the energy that a car uses while driving that impacts the environment – before and after a car hits the road, the production and destruction of materials adds more and more to the pollution caused by its existence.  In fact, research from the US suggests that when you factor in production and disposal, the climate impact of a car almost doubles per mile.

 

How many cars are there in Ireland?

 

CSO figures say that as of 2014, 1,943,868 cars and 36,573 motorbikes were on our roads. That’s without counting buses, trucks, vans etc. and it’s surely higher in 2019. That’s a lot of emissions!

 

And it’s not just driving which affects our climate impact. Whilst driving might be our most frequent choice of transport, it’s flying that makes a big stamp on the climate too. On every return flight from London to New York, each passenger produces around 1.2 tonnes of CO2. This is 17% of an average individuals total carbon production annually.

 

Can you leave the car at home and take public transport, get a lift, cycle or walk somewhere at least one day a week? Walk on Wednesday is a great green habit for going to school.

 

Could you commit to finding alternative modes of transport this Lent?

 

4. Meat:

Give up meat at least one day a week during Lent

Did you know that the international livestock sector accounts for 15% of global greenhouse emissions, which is roughly the equivalent of all the exhaust emissions from every car, train and aircraft across the world?

It’s not just about eating a piece of meat but, it’s the process that it takes to get to farm to plate. Chain of movement, similar to shopping local, is a major issue, even as far as the electricity/gas needed to cook the meat when it arrives in your home!

 

To get the meat to your plate, the following steps are needed:

  • Growth – which can include deforestation in order to create the land space for animals to live in
  • Production
  • Packaging
  • Shipping
  • Cooking

Scientists still suggest that huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid the climate change we are currently facing. Beef consumption in western countries would need to fall by 90% for us starting to make headway in changing the impact meat-eating has on the environment.

This isn’t just an issue we face now, but one which threatens swift increase in the future. At the current rate, we will struggle to produce enough food to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be on the planet by 2020 (which is only next year!). If the impact of the meat industry continues to rise at the current rate, there is very little chance of capping the global rise in temperature at the 1.5° above pre-industrial levels needs to stop catastrophic impact. The impact meat production has on the environment simply isn’t sustainable.

 

Could you go meat- free for Lent?

 

 

 

5. Electricity:

Did you know… The average household owns 41 electric appliances, with some owning up to 85! Kitchen and bathroom appliances make up the most energy consuming appliances in our households, closely followed by entertainment appliances, such as TVs. Around one fifth of the average home’s electricity bill is made up of lighting, and 10% of the homes electricity bill is made up of items on standby.
22% of the average person’s carbon footprint is made up of domestic energy use. We depend on electricity for almost everything we do, yet we don’t often think about the impact this has on our planet. How the electricity is provided is huge issue and Ireland is very slow to move into renewable sources, such as wind turbines.

 

Your first step this year could be to see how your electricity is provided and see if you can switch to a more sustainable provider. If that’s not an option, you can still help.

 

Turn off all your electrical appliances and lights for an hour every day during Lent. Yes, that means phones, TVs, heating, WiFi(!). Fridges and freezers can be an exception!

In advance of the hour every day, this will mean heading round your house and turning off all your appliances at their main switches. For some appliances, this will even mean unplugging them from the wall. Appliances such as WiFi boxes and TVs consume electricity when plugged in, even if the switch is off at the wall!

 

There are different ways to measure the electricity usage of your different appliances, to find out the effect turning them off will have. You can check in the usage manuals of different products, TVs for example. You can also use a wattage meter, a little gadget design to measure energy consumption. Did you know that you can borrow a kit from the library in Tallaght that will help you see how insulated your house is, and it also includes a wattage meter, among other things?

Could you give up electricity for an hour each day?

 

6. Plastic:

Plastic is, without a doubt, the biggest scourge of our time. We know plastic is incredibly useful – but like a bad guest it overstays its welcome.

 

More than half a billion plastic straws are used every day globally. Almost 2 million plastic bags are used every minute, and the amount of bubble wrap produced annually could wrap around the equator ten times!

 

Plastic packaging is the biggest producer of plastic waste globally. Incinerating plastic produces CO2, and other toxic chemicals, into the environment, so is not a suitable alternative to get rid of our mass plastic waste. Instead, our plastic ends up in landfills, where on average a plastic bottle takes 450 years to biodegrade.

 

Worse is what has become a constant trend on the news, and that is the discovery of much plastic in our seas and oceans. Regularly, we see news items where large animals have washed up on shore and it is later discover that the contents of their stomachs has been predominately plastic. despite many of us knowing the dangers of single-use plastic film and bags, almost 12.7 million tonnes of plastic (including half a million tonnes of plastic bags) is finding its way into the world’s oceans every year. The media has increasingly been bringing this to our attention and we have heard reports of how tiny particles of plastic have entered the food chain in the water and seafood which people even in Ireland consume.

 

By taking up the challenge to avoid using single-use plastics during Lent, you will be committing to only buying products which are not packaged with plastic film or bags. Sounds simple? Unfortunately, this is going to be quite a challenge. It may be impossible to buy your usual shopping items without them being surrounded by plastic – so it may call for drastic action: a significant change in your shopping routine.

  • Fruit and vegetables – bring your own paper bags to the shop or get your produce from a local market
  • Take away/bottled drinks – take a travel mug or refill your water bottle – refuse a disposable cup
  • Do a plastic audit of your home – where can you find single-use plastics and can you research a ‘greener’ alternative?

 

Could you give up single use plastics for Lent?

 

 

7. 40 Days, 40 Items:

From Ash Wednesday onwards remove one item of clothing from your wardrobe that you don’t wear or no longer need and put it in a bag. At the end of the 40 days, donate all that you have gathered to the local SVP or other charity body. However, don’t see it as a way of creating space in the wardrobe for a shopping spree – avoid buying anything nee either!

 

We live in a throwaway society.  Fast fashion means that clothes are often cheap and cheerful, thrown away when they get holes in or fall out of fashion.  Household items are replaced when they fail.  Internet shopping makes the whole consumer experience even less painful.

 

Yet the stuff we consume in our households is responsible for up to 60% of global carbon emission. Buying one new t-shirt can be the equivalent of 2 or 3 days energy use. Even without the cost of running washing machines or using electrical goods, the carbon impact of producing the things we consume is significant.

 

it’s not just carbon emissions – the significant consumption of natural resources contributes to the impact of clothing on the planet too. It takes 20,000 litres of water to grow one kilogram of cotton, a process which also often contributes chemicals and pollutants to local eco-systems. On top of this, over 120 million trees are cut down every year to grow our clothes.

 

Could you donate and buy nothing new for the whole of Lent?

 

 

8. Politicians:

As the children’s movement on climate justice is taking tracks all across the globe, it seems that from COP24 in Poland, politicians don’t seem to have the same level of concern that others, particularly children have.

 

Every week outside the Dáil, all who are interested getting Climate Justice, gather outside to peacefully protest. This happens every Friday from 1-2pm and is predominately led by school children who are campaigning for #FridaysForFuture. Could you give up an hour on a Friday to join the growing number?

 

As we approach local elections that are coming up later in the year, candidates will begin knocking on doors looking for your support. Why not put climate change in your top 3 topics for discussion? We need to put this topic in a prominent position on the political table. It can only be there if it is brought up in conversation and canvassers at your door is a great starting point. You could also send letters to your local TDs to ask what are they doing about Climate Change, or is it even on their agenda? If it’s not, it most definitely should be.

 

There is the recent plan from the County Council on Climate Action. Each council has developed a plan and can be read by looking at it online or by visiting the Council. Why not read it, and make some suggestions or comments?

 

Could you petition your local TDs and speak to local election candidates about Climate Change?

 

 

9. Planting:

Recently, we’ve heard growing warnings about insects and the loss of many species that can never be saved. Bees are so vital to eco-system and are a vital source for human life. However, when was the last time you saw a bee? This year? Last year? Can you remember? 20 years ago, bees were a common assurance however, these days, bees are a rare sight. David Attenborough has spoken many times about bees and pollination and has said that once the last bee has gone, humanity can only survive for approximately 4 years.

 

We could increase the insect and bee population by taking simple actions in our gardens. This can be done by reducing the amount of times we cut the grass. Reducing one cut down will help the insects that thrive in our grass to keep thriving. How conscious are we about the flowers that we pick to plant? Are they pollinator friendly or could you include in a section of your garden pollinator friendly plants? They biggest issues is pesticides. Could you commit to reducing and eliminating pesticide use in your garden?

 

Could you become more conscious and active in what you plant and use in your garden?

 

10. Water:

Our world is made up predominately of water. We humans are about 60% made up of water. Some of our food can be made up to 92% of water. We can survive for a long time without food, but only a number of days without water. We have an illusion that water is plentiful in our world. However, our hot weather last summer that brought on the drought showed us how little water we have. Water restrictions and hose pipe bans became the talk of the summer!

 

So what can we do? The easiest is to become more conscious of the water being used in everyday ways in the house. Ask yourself: do you have any unnecessary waste? Do you have any leaks or a drip in your tap that could be easily fixed? Do you leave the water running when brushing your teeth or washing your face? Are taps left on by accident? Do you overuse water in cooking? Do you have an efficient shower or do you spend an hour in there? There are many ways that we are all guilty of using too much water when we can easily reduce. Why not make a conscious decision to follow your water habits and uses in a day? Can you document them and then try to figure out a way on how to conserve more water and to commit to that action as a new habit moving forward? It’s a very small step that could make a big difference!

 

Could you become more aware of your water use and reduce any unnecessary use?