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sustainability

Navigating the issue of climate breakdown can be a heavy topic for anyone to face. Sometimes we need a little bit of help from someone who really knows their stuff.

Luckily for you, we've found the perfect woman. We spoke to the wonderful CEO of Ocean Conservancy, Janis Searles Jones, about fighting to protect our oceans, learning good sustainability practices and harnessing our passion for a better planet.

Her areas of expertise include environmental law, arctic conservation and policy as well as marine conservation, and Janis credits her time working with Native American tribes for her current understanding of legal issues spanning the management of public lands, waters, and natural resources.

The CEO began her career as a young environmental lawyer over 20 years ago in Alaska, "arriving with my dog and all of my belongings in the back of a pickup truck, ready to protect and defend public resources.

"As a young environmental lawyer, it was a profound experience working on natural resource issues in Alaska and alongside its citizens, and experiencing the state’s vastness and incredible beauty. The experience has shaped the rest of my career by helping me understand what it takes to make long-lasting, meaningful change, from fighting like hell to defend some of our nation’s core conservation provisions, to finding common ground, forging alliances and working with partners.

"Today, I’m proud to be leading an organisation that is working to create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it every single day."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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How did Janis discover her love for the ocean? We envisioned an epiphany moment reminscent of Ariel in The Little Mermaid when she spots Prince Eric, but it was Janis' upbringing that paved the way;

"The ocean has played a major role in my life ever since I was a kid. I was really lucky to grow up in a family that valued the outdoors and in a place close to the coast. I lived in the same neighborhood as a renowned environmental educator, Mrs. Terwilliger. She taught us about the impacts of plastic on wildlife, and how each of us, even as kids, could make a meaningful difference. Her favourite message for children was, “This is my country. Wherever I go, I will leave it more beautiful than I found it.”' 

When it comes to Ireland's ecological landscape, we're surrounded by ocean. Yet the conversation surrounding climate breakdown in this country hasn't brought the sea into mainstream dialogue.

The result of this is that we can feel overwhelmingly helpless when we discover our huge overfishing problem, the dangers of our agriculture industry and our lack of turbines. What can we do?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"I would say one of the biggest things you can do is to help convey to your readers that what we do on land matters to the ocean. Choosing sustainable seafood when you eat, reducing the amount of single-use plastic that you use, and supporting Ireland’s goal of protecting 30 percent of its ocean waters by 2030 are good places to start.

"And renewable energy, like offshore wind power, is an important part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is a critical priority for our ocean," Janis explains.

One great way to help is join Ocean Conservancy for this year’s International Coastal Cleanup on September 21, 2019. The ICC is the world’s largest single-day volunteer effort to fight ocean plastics.

Volunteers have the opportunity to keep more than 20 million pounds of plastic and rubbish out of the ocean, and the fruit of your efforts can be immediately felt within your community.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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When it comes to saying no to unnecessary single-use plastics, there are plenty of things each person can easily manage;

"Reducing your single-use plastic consumption is imperative in the fight against plastic pollution. Carry a reusable bottle for drinks, make sure to bring reusable bags to the shop, switch out your paper towels and napkins for cloth and if you are able to, skip the straw and quit the cutlery. You’ve just got to commit and develop a routine," Janis says.

"When making purchasing decisions, many of us are faced with a great number of choices. For the most part, there is a growing desire among some consumers to be more sustainable and reduce their environmental impacts. We all know about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—while these are evergreen habits that we should all practice regularly, we must be more proactive and have bigger aspirations," she adds.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"Take a second to think about or develop your personal priorities and make sure your purchases align with those values. "

Community action can go a long way, as can starting the conversation with those around you;

"Volunteer, sign petitions and educate others. You don’t have to be near a beach to pick up rubbish, start your own cleanup or even organise a group to pick up rubbish around your neighborhood. And we have a handy app, called CleanSwell that you can track your daily pick up. When you submit the items you’ve collected, it goes into our global database and helps inform policy solutions around the world."

What are the goals of Ocean Conservancy, and how do they stay motivated? Climate breakdown can keep us all up at night, but Janis Searles Jones doesn't come across as a woman who gives up easily;

"Ocean plastic is a complex issue because it’s about a whole global system of consumption – products, business models, infrastructure, policies, and consumer preferences and behaviours. The two ideas at the core of Ocean Conservancy’s strategy are to recognise the urgency of the problem and to stop plastic from getting into the ocean in the first place," she begins.

"We’re calling for an end to the flow of plastic waste into the ocean by 2030. And we need all of our ocean allies to come together to achieve that goal. While ambitious, it’s what the ocean needs. Otherwise, if plastic use continues to rise, there could be almost 100 million more tonnes of plastic in the ocean by 2030. That is simply unacceptable."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Educating ourselves is imperative, but we can't ignore the fact that greenhouse gas emissions changing the ocean-scape as we know it. Janis stresses that this will affect each and every one of us as a result, whether we live on the island of Ireland or in a land-locked nation;

"Climate change is profoundly an ocean issue. Ocean Conservancy is working hard to make the ocean-climate connections, and make sure that countries who have committed to the Paris Agreement take the ocean into account and develop ocean-smart policies to protect our ocean and our future."

Imagining what our oceans will resemble in 50 years' time can be an anxiety-inducing thought, but it forces us to be realistic about our hope for the future;

"The ocean will be different. No question. We have already drastically altered the ocean as a result of climate change and human activities, and we will need to learn to adapt to those changes."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"But we do have a choice about how much more change is going to happen," the CEO adds. "And we are at a tipping point both in terms of the importance of action now, and in terms of broad and worldwide commitments to that action.

"I truly believe that in 50 years, many fish populations will have stabilised, thanks to improved management. I believe we will collectively agree that geo-engineering and deep-sea mining is not worth the risk and those activities will be unacceptable from a profit and public standpoint," Janis continues.

"We will have fewer coral reefs, but they will continue to exist."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"Most importantly, I believe we will have a collective understanding – from people, governments, companies – that the ocean is critical to life on this planet and we need throw everything we have at protecting it."

If you want to get involved in the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup on September 21, use this interactive map and sign up to clean up here.

#TeamOcean includes everyone from Glenn Close to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Ocean Conservancy are expecting another million volunteers to come together in an effort to keep our oceans clean. 

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For the August bank holiday weekend, Dr. Bronner's will collaborate with All Together Now as one of the festival's sustainability partners.

The organic, Fairtrade, biodegradable-vegan, versatile personal care brand will bring their gorgeous soaps to the festival's 'Eco Area', where the team will promote good practices.

Attendees can be educated on what changes need to be made to combat climate breakdown and encouraged to make sustainable choices in everyday life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Dr. Bronner's team will be undergoing their 'Heal Earth' campaign to promote regenerative organic agriculture.

The brand's efforts to combat climate change will be emphasised, and their product range of certified organic, biodegradable goodies will be sampled and available to buy.

Dr. Bronner's soaps will be supplied all over All Together Now's showering facilities for attendees, as well as in the backstage areas of artists like Hot Chip, The National and Patti Smith.

Paul Irwin, Director of Life’s Great said;

"We are delighted to be partnering with ‘All Together Now’ and providing attendees with ethical, environmentally friendly and fair trade Dr Bronner’s soaps while sharing the ‘Health Earth’ message which is very much aligned to the ethos All Together Now promotes".

The company was founded in 1948 by Emanuel Bronner, a third-generation master soapmaker from a German-Jewish soapmaking family.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The business remains family-owned and run, and the brand honours Emanuel Bronner's vision by making socially and environmentally-responsible products of the highest quality, while donating profits for a better world.

'We are All-One or None!' remains their mantra, and their combat climate change goals are perfect for a festival like All Together Now.

For more information on Dr. Bronner’s or to have a scope at their gorgeous goods, check out their range on Life's Great. 

Feature image: Instagram/@drbronner

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Mark your diaries for June 26 because McDonald’s Ireland is introducing not one, not two, not three, not even four – but FIVE new permanent items and their variants to its menu.

Fans are being treated to a bumper line-up of new and improved recipes – as well as the return of some old favourites, giving customers even more choice.

Not only does the new menu boast choices for customers seeking a lighter lunch but there’s also a revamped breakfast classic and a move towards more sustainable packaging in the salad boxes and McFlurrys.

What’s more, McDonald’s Ireland will host a series of ‘Live Your Best Lunch’ events across Dublin, Cork and Galway to celebrate the arrival of the new menu items. The pop-ups aim to encourage people to ditch desk-dining and make the most of their summer lunch hour whilst sampling the new menu free of charge. Guests to the McDonald’s pop-ups can enjoy activities such as Pound Fit, ukulele lessons and paint classes in the restaurants.

Here’s a look at the legendary menu line-up:

Lighter Lunch Choices and Less Plastic

Did you know that you can treat yourself to a delicious meal at McDonald’s for under 400 or 600 calories? The salad and wrap ranges have been revamped to give customers even more lighter lunch options, but with the same big bold flavours and quality ingredients.

The new Chicken Salad gives customers the choice of crispy (265 calories) or the new and improved grilled chicken (133 calories) with a balsamic dressing. Customers can also add bacon to the salad if they wish.

As well as lighter lunch options, McDonald’s are also going lighter on packaging too – removing all single-use plastic from its salad ranges.  All main meal and side salads will now be served in 100% sustainable and renewable cardboard containers, changing out the existing plastic bowl, shaker salad cups and lids which will result in 102 metric tons of plastic removed annually. McDonald’s will also be removing the plastic from the McFlurry packaging, swapping the plastic lid which will remove 383 metric tons of plastic annually.

The popular wrap range is expanding too with the new ‘The Hot Cajun Chicken One’ being welcomed to the range – this time featuring crispy chicken breast strips or grilled chicken with a Cajun sauce, Pepper Jack cheese, tomato, jalapeño slices and lettuce in a soft, toasted tortilla wrap.

The Return of an Old Favourite

The public has spoken, and McDonald’s has listened. Back by popular demand, the announcement of the return of the Smarties McFlurry to McDonald’s full-time offering is sure to excite ice cream fans across Ireland. Made with vanilla ice cream, crushed Smarties and chocolate sauce – the iconic flavour will now sit alongside Maltesers and Oreo on the permanent McFlurry menu.

A New Breakfast in Town

McDonald’s is also launching a new Bacon Roll in Ireland. Featuring three rashers of bacon on a sourdough-style bun with a choice of brown sauce or ketchup. Whether you call it a butty or a bap, the new Bacon roll is sure to be an instant classic.

All items will be available from McDonald’s Ireland restaurants, McDelivery and Drive-Thrus from June 26, 2019.

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The issue of disposable/single use plastics has garnered national and international attention in recent years. A recent government funded study estimated that up to 200 million single use coffee cups are used in Ireland every year and these are not recyclable, that is 22,000 cups every hour.

The Co-Cup Scheme aims to reduce this figure by implementing a deposit and return scheme for reusable cups in Dublin. The pilot project which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and run by 2GoCup Ltd will initially be rolled out in a number of locations including campuses at Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin and in Dublin City Council’s Civic Offices.

Under the pilot scheme when someone purchases a tea/ coffee, there is an additional charge of €1 – a deposit for the cup and when they return their cup they get their €1 back. A lid can also be purchased for €1, which can be kept and re-used.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Fionnghuala Ryan, Executive Environmental Scientific Officer, Dublin City Council said” The City Council is delighted to be involved in this exciting pilot project. With funding from the EPA’s Local Authority Prevention Network, Co-Cup hopes to be the beginning of the deposit and return revolution in Ireland. We want to prove that it can be done and to drive behaviour change.”

The President of Dublin City University, Professor Brian MacCraith commented “I’m delighted that two of Dublin’s universities, one young and one not so young, are coming together with Dublin City Council to provide a leadership example for our shared city. The Co-Cup initiative is an innovative and practical measure that will enable every citizen to play a central role in reducing waste and contributing to sustainability. Solutions such as this will also help DCU to achieve its commitment to become the first university in Ireland to phase out single-use plastics.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Michele Hallahan, Sustainability Advisor, for Trinity College Dublin commented “This is truly a collaborative project between Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, and Dublin City Council and very much in keeping with Trinity’s Disposable Plastic Plan and other Circular Economy initiatives which contribute towards a more sustainable campus. The climate crisis needs to be addressed through collaborative rather than competitive forces, and this is a collaboration we're delighted to be involved in.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Kevin Murphy, CEO and Founder, 2GoCup Ltd said “2GoCup is delighted to partner with some of our leading universities and Dublin City Council in rolling out this sustainable initiative together. It’s fantastic to see such progressive steps taken to tackle single use cups and we look forward to it continuing across our city and further afield.”

The project team hopes that the pilot scheme will test the social acceptance and business case for a deposit and return scheme in Ireland and that lessons learned will allow them to learn how to progress this project beyond the pilot stage.

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With Brexit seemingly a permanent fixture on every TV channel and newspaper, gender and race disparity as prominent as ever and climate change on everyone's minds; the European Union elections have never been more important.

To coincide with the upcoming election, the EU has launched the 'This Time I'm Voting' campaign to encourage citizens to vote this time around.

Member states nominate direct candidates for the European Parliament through proportional representation. but with numerous EU parliamentarians represented on Twitter, it's hugely convenient to have debates online and exhange views.

The #ThisTimeImVoting campaign explains EU issues and elaborates on the ways in which every vote affects the living conditions of EU citizens.

This #EUelections2019 campaign is being introduced in 25 relevant languages to reach as many people as possible.

Factually-correct information is available on Twitter for first-time voters and EU election experts alike.

A large aspect of the public election conversation is happening via Twitter, which is why the site is showing support by introducing a special emoji for the #ThisTimeImVoting campaign.

The elections for local and EU seats as well as the divorce referendum take place on May 24, make sure you're there.

Every vote counts, so don't forget to make your mark on Europe. 

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Sustainability has emerged as one of 2019's top trends, if you can call it that, and unlike the trend for snake print skirts or sea shell jewellery, this one can actually have a positive impact on our lives, and the planet. 

There are so many easy and simple ways to alleviate your imprint on this earth – and while we know that it can seem like a daunting commitment, there are some simple swaps you can make that wont change your lifestyle too drastically, but will help the planet dramatically if we all make the change. 

Cut out kitchen waste

When cooking and using the kitchen, most of us are already doing our part by separating our recycling and using a compost bin. 

However, there are still a huge amount of single use items utilised in cooking, particularly tin foil and cling film, which for the most part cannot be used more than once. 

Swapping a constant stream of new rolls of disposable food wrapping for a long lasting bees wax cloth can save the use of so much single-use plastic. The wax-wraps can be used in lunch boxes to keep sandwiches fresh, or wrapped around half used fruit and veg to be stored in the fridge. 

Step away from fast fashion 

As soon as we get paid, we have a major habit of jumping right onto affordable online clothing retailers to get our fashion fix of the latest trends. 

However, this kind of shopping is both bad for your wallet and the planet. Clothing made cheaply from plastic fibres leave a major mark on the earth. According to The Fashion Revolution, natural fabrics like leather and denim take between 1 and 20 years to decompose in landfill.

However, your nylon tights take 40 years to decompose, and your polyester fast fashion finds take up to 200 years – and are officially considered non-biodegradable. So as a rule, never dump your clothing, repurpose it into something new, give it as a gift or hand-me-down, attend swap shops or donate them to people in need. 

Viva la vintage

Vintage shopping is a sure fire way to make your wardrobe distinctive and stand out from the crowd. 

Shopping in both vintage stores and charity shops eliminate the need to produce new clothing, and makes you a key element in the cycle of reusing garments which have been discarded. 

Do your research on your charity shop of choice – ask them what becomes of the clothing that is donated but does not sell, before making a decision to shop there. 

Eat seasonally

We now live in a time where thanks to artificial , refrigeration and global transport links, we can have any fruit or veg from anywhere in the world at any time of the year – all we have to do is step into the supermarket. 

Shopping at local markets for food that is fresh and in season cuts down on the mass amounts of carbon emissions from fossil fuels that are used in the transport and refrigeration of internationally grown food sources. 

Swap plastic for permanence 

Forego single use plastic water bottles, straws and cutlery. 

Have your own metal water bottle for your hydration needs, and invest in a bamboo or metal straw or try to give up your reliance on them all together. 

 

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Fast fashion brands have a bad name when it comes to sustainability. 

The fashion industry is one of the worst for our environment, as we move as a society that one wore and repaired a small number of clothes that made up an entire wardrobe, to one which expects a brand new outfit for every event. 

To counteract the negative environmental impacts that online retailer's increased output produces, some are stepping up to trailblaze a change – and Boohoo is leading the way. 

The online brand is taking a step towards sustainability with a new project – a range of t-shirts made of recycled materials.

The t-shirts come in classic, plain black and white, or with an environmentally friendly statement. 

The t -shirts are also made with a recyclable label and packaging, the first steps towards boohoo offering their customers more sustainable options.

'The boohoo Group acknowledges its responsibility to educate our consumer on fashion sustainability,' said  

'The recycled tees are just the first step to creating a sustainable offering to our consumer.' said boohoo CEO Carol Kane.

Made from 100% recycled materials, the t-shirts are a cotton/polyester mix created using salvaged waste  cuttings from organic cotton, which is then shredded and blended with recycled plastic bottles to create a soft  cotton yarn.

If you need up update your plain t-shirt staples, ensure that next time you do, you're minimising your environmental footprint. 

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