by Carol Newburn
SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Spend some spare time before the New Year deciding how many of the following suggestions could be your New Year’s Resolution. Don’t overwhelm yourself and maybe try a few more suggestions as a Lenten ‘Fast’. The earth is changing because of our constant demands on resources like fossil fuels, soil, water and air. The more we squander what little accessible oil we have on the planet on single use plastics, the more we depend on drilling and fracking dangerously to get every last drop of oil.
1. Shopmarkets. We have a new local Farmer’s Market nearby at Airfield 9am to 2pm every Friday. The stalls include breads, bakery, fruits, vegetables, cheese, honey, Wicklow lamb, jams and chutney. You will be able to speak directly with the producer and avoid unnecessary packaging. Bring your own bags and containers.
2. Cook from scratch and avoid processed food. Most processed food has ingredients you wouldn’t have in the kitchen and comes in plastic containers.
3. Eat organic where possible as it is kinder to the environment and kinder to you.
4. Avoid fast fashion. Only buy clothes you really need. Buy timeless clothes that you can wear for a longer period. Swap clothes with friends and look in thrift shops.
5. Get chemicals out of your toiletries. A bar of soap wrapped in paper is good. Shampoo bars: avoid plastic bottles. Refill bottles at the Refill Centre. You will find recipes for toothpaste, deodorant and creams online.
6. Get chemicals out of your household cleaning materials. Use a steamer to clean without chemicals. Indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air because of the chemicals we use. You will find recipes for household cleaners on line.
7. Carry a reusable cup and water bottle. Many cafés offer a reduction if you bring your own cup.
8. Hang your laundry out to dry. An electric clothes drier uses a huge amount of power.
9. Refuse a plastic straw with your drink. Steel and glass alternatives are available and they are small to carry in your bag.
10. If you use cotton buds make sure the stems are not plastic. Paper/ card stems are available and degradable.
The Water of Life. Water is our most precious commodity, essential to life. This summer has given us a timely reminder to put plans in place to harvest rainwater for garden irrigation for next summer. If, as is likely, we have other summers of drought, our gardens and plants won’t thrive, insects become homeless, pollinators die and our food crops will fail. It is all interconnected but we have plenty of rain in the winter just going down the drain. This is not just a problem for farmers, we who live in the suburbs need to be careful with our use of water from the reservoirs. Water butts to collect water off the roof are available from our local Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Recycling Park at Ballyogan and in many local household suppliers. Even collecting from a shed roof will yield a lot of water. By putting a water butt or a series of water butts in place now you will collect water for use next summer. More sophisticated Water Harvesting systems are available but are expensive. It seems crazy that we are flushing our toilets with drinking quality water.
Ireland’s 3rd National Biodiversity Action Plan was launched last year to cover the years from 2017 to 2021. It is easy to think that this Action Plan does not affect us here in the suburbs, but suburban gardens are a very important habitat and a haven for many insects, animals and plants. I am particularly thinking of the collapse of our bee and insect population in Ireland.
Insects are in decline and of the 98 Irish wild bee species, one third is endangered. Why should we protect the creepy crawlies which most people don’t like? Insects are important pollinators of our food; they provide food for many birds, bats and small mammals; they provide food for other insects and are decomposers - cleaning up dead matter.
We are constantly cleaning up, spraying, killing ‘weeds’ in the lawn, paving and concreting which leaves no space for wildness. Dandelions, clover and daisies provide food for starving bees. Dandelions are especially good early spring pollinator plants.
Choose flowers for your garden to support the bees, for example, open-centred flowers like, daisies, single roses, asters, buddleia and lavender. The County Dublin Beekeepers’ Association has a good list of bee friendly plants.
http://dublinbees.org/want-to-learn-about-beekeeping/garden-plants-for-bees/ We are all interconnected. Flowers feed the insects, birds need insects for food, we need insects to pollinate our food. Many of our birds are in decline because of the decline in insects.
Love your local creepy crawlies!!