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Recent reports circulating in the media on the disastrous effects of humankind on the planet and resulting climate change are pretty terrifying.

The greenhouse effect includes rising sea levels, famine and climatic alterations, and is caused by the emission of certain gases into the atmosphere such as man’s use of fossil fuels. If we want to reverse the damage, it needs to be in the next 11 years.

The latest findings by the United Nations are alarming, at worst. The sweeping assessment has concluded that humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so extensively that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction.

Populations worldwide depends on these threatened ecosystems.

Transportation is imperative to this problem and bears responsibility for one fifth of all carbon dioxide emissions currently. Cars and lorries contribute 80-90 percent of all transport emissions, and traffic congestion is drastically worsening in Dublin.

It’s time that Ireland declared a national emergency on climate change, and we found solutions. How can we make small but significant changes to our daily lives for the sake of the planet? Diet, travel, fashion and plastic; four key areas.

Your life can’t totally cease to contain any fun, and why shouldn’t you still be able to travel despite the troubling findings? We’ve made a comprehensive list of ways to travel in an eco-friendly, guilt-free way. The planet will thank you for it…

1. Travel by train, if possible, or boat.

Trains are more energy-efficient than other modes of transport, and can easily adapt to different sources of energy. Renewable energy is the key, so using cars and planes for travel can cause problems. Of course, we in Ireland are surrounded by water and generally have to fly everywhere, but at least the first waste-free plane journey has taken place.

Steps are being taken to reduce the plastic intake on flights; Quantas operates the ‘world’s first zero-waste’ airline journey, which is SO exciting. They disposed of all their waste via compost, reuse and recycling.

Why not try inter-railing as a means of travel? The European journey tickets offered by USIT feature some great offers at low prices.

Ferry journeys also save a lot more energy than flying, though many people find long journeys on the sea unnerving.

2. Ride that bike and give your planet a like

As well as saving you a rake load of cash on transportation, cycling is an amazing way to improve your general health and fitness as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

By riding your bicycle for just four miles, you stop roughly 15 pounds of pollutants from being released, in comparison to car journeys.

Places like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Oslo, Prague and Tuscany offer some incredible views and cycling tours. From riding your bike through the Italian countryside to pedalling the coastal roads of France, you’re seriously missing out if you think bikes aren’t a brilliant holiday opportunity.

They contribute zero negativity to the planet, yet can get you to some beautiful places, so it’s worth giving it a go.

3. Do you ever feel, like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind….

DITCH those plastic bags, it’s easier than ever. Plastic bags can take up to 500 years to biodegrade, so why not take a reusable bag with you when you’re grabbing goods or groceries?

You can get some gorgeous tote bags made ethically, and are perfect if you want to support independent artists while making a moral statement.

4. If you can, try to book non-stop flights

It’s actually the takeoffs and landings that create most of a plane’s carbon emissions, so by only booking one flight to a destination rather than two or three, it saves energy.

Studies have found that stops can increase emissions by a shocking 35 percent per person, all because of the takeoff.

5. Shame on you if you still buy plastic bottles

Okay, granted sometimes it’s necessary to buy plastic water bottles in countries which have undrinkable tap water. We’ve all been there, just desperately trying to avoid getting a stomach parasite in some remote part of Asia.

If you’re in an area that has tap water freely available and it’s drinkable, you have no excuse not to carry around your own water bottle to refill it.

Considering the news that, by 2050, the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish., we definitely need to reduce our plastic water bottle use.

6. Ask if your hostel, Airbnb or hotel has a recycling policy

If they don’t have one, why not leave a comment on their feedback cards asking them to start one?

If you can find a nearby recycling area with bottle bins, etc, try to bring your rubbish with you to dump somewhere eco-friendly. You can also quiz your hostel or hotel on their policies regarding issues like solar power, wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient lighting, and low-flow toilets.

7. Carpool with your pals

Road trip, anyone? Carpooling with friends or family is a big method of reducing your pollution contribution. It brings down the volume of vehicles on the road, which helps lower emission rates.

It’s also a lot more fun than embarking on road trips by yourself, with nobody in the car to appreciate your killer Spotify playlists…

8. Get that Keep Cup out at all times, people

Nurse your Keep Cup like it’s your baby, gals. If you carry it with you in your bag (there are foldable ones that barely take up any space too), you’ll cut down on the amount of cardboard takeaway coffee cups you use.

While some of these cups and lids are recyclable, many of them aren’t and cause needless harm to landfill sites.

9. Keep the energy down

Treat your hostel or hotel like you would at home; turn off lights whenever you can, switch off appliances like a television or kettle, don’t use clean towels when you have a perfectly good one already, take shorter showers if possible. Showers use 10-25 gallons of water, but baths use up to 70 gallons, so choose showers.

Of course, a holiday is supposed to be relaxing. Treat yourself, but keep in mind that the planet needs treating too. Eating and drinking local food also cuts down on the travel mileage of your meal, instead of having meals or beers which have been transported from halfway across the world.

10. Wildlife lover

If you’re hiking or travelling in protected sites, make sure not to wander off the beaten track and risk endangering more species of plants and wildlife.

When in another country, it’s so important to respect the ecosystems there and do your research before the trip. Especially with snorkelling and scuba diving, take caution with disrupting coral reefs.

Know the laws for example about hunting, or trespassing on specific grounds. NEVER touch or feed animals you meet along the way, unless it’s in a protected area or you’re visiting an animal sanctuary alongside knowledgable guides.

Don’t visit tourist sites which cause animals distress or harm, like elephant grounds in Thailand which allow you to ride the animals or walking with lions.

Do your homework before visiting anywhere involving animals to ensure there are no cruel practices.

You can even adopt an animal safety through the correct websites, and give them some love. by sponsoring their care.

11. Walk this way

If you can walk around cities or countrysides on your holidays, make sure to try and do as much as you can on foot. Walking tours of cities are always brilliant for discovering the history of the places you are staying in, and don’t waste any money or energy on transport.

Walking also gives you bonus health benefits which extend beyond the environment. Reduce your risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease by walking only 30 minutes every day, at home or abroad.

12. Beep Beep: Electric Cars

Electric cars produce zero emissions during your travels, but can increase a power plant’s emission when charging. The only issue with them is their production, which takes place in factories often powered by fossil fuels. This actually means the vehicle has already caused pollution before hitting the roads, but if the factories started using renewable energy, this could all change.

Make sure to do the research when it comes to your choice between electric cars or diesel powered machines.

13. Reduce plastic in your shopping habits

Try your best not to buy goods from major corporations which use unethical worker policies and produce large amounts of plastic waste. It’s important to support independent companies and eco-friendly, ethical shops.

Research online before you travel somewhere new about the location’s best shops and companies for the environment, and get groceries that aren’t pre-wrapped in plastic. Carrier bags are ideal for loose fruit and vegetables.

14. Bamboo toothbrushes and natural toiletries

It’s cheap and cheerfully easy to buy a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one, which takes 400 years to break down in landfill. Holland and Barrett sell a great range, and you can also switch to natural shampoos and deodorants.

Irish brand Indeora sell a beautiful-smelling spray-on deodorant (vanilla, YUM) and Lush is famous for it’s bars of shampoo and skincare products using either zero packaging or 100 percent recycled packaging.

15. Mini carrier fans

This was an absolute GOD-SEND when I travelled Asia (50 degrees Celsius, permanently). Instead of using a monumental amount of air condition, try limiting your energy consumption by just using battery powered mini-fans.

They work insanely well if you pay a tad bit more for a decent brand, and last for ages too.

16. Break up with your make-up

We highly recommend buying reusable make-up pads or remover face cloths, because make-up wipes are incredibly harmful for the environment.

They usually end up in landfill, or the ocean, and don’t break down well. More and more brands are releasing their machine washable face cloths, buy enough to keep you going and they’ll last for years.

17. Paper planes

If you’re handed leaflets or paper maps during your trip away, either hang on to them or return them to the companies so that they can be re-used.

Whatever you do, don’t let them just get dumped on the street, They could be useful for someone else, so why waste them? Try to use Google Maps instead of buying paper maps, if you can.

18. Waste not, want not.

Hang on to any unused shampoos or toiletries that are provided to you by hostels or hotels. They most likely just end up in the bin, which in turn ends up in MORE landfill.

Also, if you’re having some sexy fun times abroad with your significant other or just feel like a spontaneous summer fling, why not try using vegan condoms or eco-friendly latex? Greenpeace have a great article about eco-friendly sex. No, seriously…

You can even reuse the plastic containers or bottles for another purpose. Many ethical brands allow you to fill up your plastic bottles with their products to reduce waste.

19. Fast fashion

Many of us can’t resist the temptation to buy a whole new wardrobe for our summer holidays. Bear in mind, most holidays are only a week or two long, out of 52 in the entire year.

Try to refrain from buying brand new clothes unless you absolutely need them. Most high street brands like Penneys, Zara, Missguided, PrettyLittleThing, H+M, Boohoo, Berskha and Pull and Bear don’t use ethical working conditions, and don’t pay their employees a living wage.

The textiles industry is also the second biggest polluter of water on earth, and needs to massively reduce ASAP. Try going for ethical brands, charity shopping or vintage clothing instead of getting brands new threads. Depop is a brilliant app for buying used but stunning clothes and giving them new life. You can also put your own clothes up for sale.

Good On You is a great website which can tell you if your favourite shops are ethical or eco-friendly, so give it a go.

20. Reusable q-tips

You probably know that millions of cotton q-tips end up in the ocean so that would be great if you could switch to reusable q-tips like LastSwab. These reusable q-tips are created to reduce harmful waste impacting our environment. LastSwab is an eco-friendly alternative that is super easy to use and it can easily be a part of our everyday routine.

If you don’t listen to me, at least listen to Obama…

barack obama clean energy GIF by NowThis

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Festivals are one of the worst places in the world when it comes to dumping unrecyclable trash on the ground, which goes straight into landfill.

This year, Body & Soul have roped in the legendary US junk artist Shrine to create an installation to highlight Ireland's need to recycle small electronic waste.

EPA Research has emphasised that our country hoards small electronic items rather than recycling them, almost as if they can't decide if it's trash or treasure. Answer: Your trash, somebody else's treasure.

rihanna recycle GIF by mtv

The European Recycling Platform (ERP) have now partnered with Body & Soul to commission a large-scale installation made from small household electronic waste.

The installation is set to appear at Body & Soul, which remains Ireland's leading creative festival during the summer, taking place in Ballinlough Castle in Westmeath this weekend (June 21 – June 23).

Australian eco-builder, Harrison Gardner has agreed to collaborate with Shrine to co-create a massive, illuminated tetrahedron from salvaged and recycled electronic materials, collected by ERP Ireland.

They plan on naming the installation 'SOLAS', and it's staged to be a glowing beacon of light at the festival site. It will be a whopping six metres tall and will be clad in materials like phones, chargers, laptops, cables etc.

Basically all of our old sh*t that we dumped in a drawer five years ago.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a research study: A Community Based Social Marketing Approach for Increased Participation in WEEE Recycling (ColectWEEE).

The behaviour and attitudes of Irish people to recycling small electronic items was examined, and accelerating tech development has increased the consumption of electronic goods but it reduces their lifespan.

People have a strange relationship with their possessions, and it's fairly clear that Irish people have a hoarding culture. I'm fairly sure I still have my iPod nano from 2009…

ERP Ireland hope that SOLAS will act as a call to action to the Irish public to stop hoarding unused or useless smaller electrical items in their homes. ERP want to increase the collection rate of the items.

CEO of ERP Ireland, Martin Tobin, expressed his pride at the future installation: "We are delighted to partner with Body & Soul to commission SOLAS – an incredible piece of artwork.

"Body & Soul places sustainability at the heart of everything they do, and we are delighted to be part of their 10th Year of Joy Anniversary of the festival. We are incredibly grateful to Shrine and Harrison Gardner for creating such a breath-taking installation. I think the finished piece speaks for itself.”

Shrine spoke about his joy at the message behind SOLAS: "I have worked on projects in countless countries on nearly all seven continents but a project with an important message such as this, always stands out to me.

"I cherish creating art from items discarded by humans all over the world, these can always be repurposed into something new and beautiful.”

You can recycle your e-waste at your local electrical retailer even without a purchase or at your local recycling centre, free of charge or one of ERP’s Free Electrical Recycling Drop Off events held across the country.

Final Weekend Tickets and Limited Edition Sunday Tickets for Body & Soul are on sale via their website.

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With more and more restaurant chains facing scrutiny for their continuous single-use plastic habits, one brand has decided to drastically change how they do things for the good of the planet.

Healthy Thai delivery chain Camile has become the first chain in Europe to launch a compostable range of packaging which can go straight into the compost bin without washing.

Camile are moving towards plastic-free single-use products by the end of the year, with 95 percent of their packaging now fully compostable. Absolute heroes, who's next to follow this example?

A more environmentally-friendly, 100 percent compostable solution to takeaway food chains and their use of plastic is imperative at the moment. Climate breakdown is weighing down on us, and corporations and independent businesses alike have to change the way they do things.

Camile are investing 25 percent more on their packing costs to reduce the amount of plastic used, with Brody Sweeney commenting on the brilliant move;

"We believe that by showing leadership in this area, we can encourage other businesses to follow suit, and make the move to compostables…We have a responsibility to take sustainability seriously and take tangible steps to leaving the planet habitable for my grandchildren's children and generations to come."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Camile Thai (@camilethaiirl) on

We as consumers also have to play our part in eradicating as much single-use plastic as possible. 

Bord Bia's CEO Tara McCarthy applauded the effort, emphasising that Origin Green members are leading positive change in the industry.

Compostable packaging is a more sustainable option than standard paper or single-use products, but they are only an improvement for the environment if they are disposed of correctly. Remember to check which bins are for specific recyclables and waste.

Fair play, Camile. We hope other brands follow suit ASAP.

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It seems that every day, another company is trying to become more environmentally-aware and it's fab.

The latest to make new moves towards helping our world be a better place is the leading beer company, Carlsberg.

They obvs use a lot of wrapping and plastic in their six-packs, but no more!

What's the solution, so?

Recyclable glue!

From now on, the cans will be held together by this glue – pretty cool right?

When the new multi-pack of beer cans arrive, it will be a world first and it is set to cut back the Danish brewer’s use of plastic to package by more than 75%.

Called “Snap Packs”, they have spent three years in development and are strong enough to make it unscathed from shelf to home, but will break when twisted. 

Brits will be the lucky ones to debut the eco-friendly packaging innovation as Carlsberg has chosen the UK market, as it consumes 30% of its beer yearly.  

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is a big fan of this new development and has hailed it as a “big step” in efforts to tackle the deteriorating situation regarding plastic pollution. 

The company will reduce its plastic use by 1,200 tonnes a year, i.e. 60 million plastic bags once the ''Snap Packs'' are rolled out. 

As the plastic rings can trap birds and animals, this issue is serious.

Bo Oksnebjerg, secretary-general of WWF Denmark said in a press release that, ”our wildlife is drowning in plastic. We, therefore, need to act now. We need less plastic to end up in nature. That is why we consider it huge progress that Carlsberg is now launching solutions that significantly reduce the amount of plastic in its packaging.”

So, we can now buy a six-pack of beer without harming the environment?

Count us right in. 

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Dublin residents are being fined for having as little as a teabag in their recycling bin.

According to 98fm, Greyhound waste company has already issued fines of €30 to people who put teabags in their bin, while others have been fined for a couple of biscuits.

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However, residents are concerned that when they leave their bins out on the road to be collected, children going by on the street will throw something in them.

Nicola McHugh from Ballyfermot said that she received a fine for having biscuits in her green bin, but doesn't feel like she has to pay it as "kids are using the bins constantly."

Meanwhile, TD Bríd Smith from People Before Profits says that this is an example of companies acting like cartels.

She feels as if there should be a bit of leeway "for a certain level of contamination."

Greyhound waste has since responded to the claims, saying nobody is fined for having only one teabag in their green bin.

The company said: "Only bins that are consistently heavy over a long period are selected for monitoring.

Image result for greyhound bins

"The householder is then informed in writing that their green bin is being monitored and are provided with ample time to change the way they segregate their waste.

"When their bins are checked and are found to be contaminated, pictures are taken and a surcharge is issued. The householder is then given 14 days to appeal."

They also shared a picture

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Unless you've been incredibly disciplined with that Lenten "no chocolate" promise, you've no doubt already tucked into your first Easter egg of the year.

But did you know just how many eggs us Irish folk will consume in total this Easter? We'll give you a hint: it's a lot.

Repak Recycling have tallied up some interesting figures based on Ireland's chocolate-eating habits, and the results will give you a bit of a shock.

But if you can't binge-eat chocolate on Easter Sunday, when can you really? Behold, Ireland's Easter weekend in numbers…

17,700,000 – The number of Easter eggs we'll munch our way though in Ireland this year

2,136 – The amount of chocolate, in tonnes, we'll end up eating

4,200,000 – The number of marathons ONE runner could run on the calories contained in those eggs

€38,500,000 – The amount we'll spend on Easter eggs this year

shut up and take my money glee fangirl

8 – The amount of eggs eaten on average in each Irish household 

19,650 – The level of packaging, in tonnes, we'll generate this Easter

161 – The number of Boeing 747-800 aircrafts we could fill with all that cardboard, plastic and foil

Repak Recycling are encouraging chocolate lovers to #BeAGoodEgg this Easter and recycle their packaging. You can locate your nearest recycling facility at Repak.ie – especially useful if you'll be travelling over the weekend.  

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