A good time to get involved


Green Living
McKinley Neal

Happy New Year! Have you set resolutions, intentions or made any plans for 2020? I noticed in 2019 that many people in Mayo made huge strides to minimise their personal impact on the environment by making a number of small changes to their daily habits. There is even more interest in green living, now that it is clear that we all need to take action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
We’ve discussed a good deal about how to make easy swaps: bring your own reusable bags and containers and cups when you’re shopping for food or getting takeaway meals or drinks; try sourcing items second-hand instead of new where possible; choose natural (linen, organic cotton, hemp, wool) or durable, recyclable materials (stainless steel, aluminium, glass) when you buy new; grow at least some of your own food and get as much of the rest from local producers directly via markets or box veg schemes; eliminate as many single-use items from your daily use as you can by choosing reusable, refillable or unpackaged options.
Then are also more and more opportunities to learn about how to get involved at a local level, as there are several brilliant organisations looking for people to join in their activities. For example, the Edible Landscape Project, based in Westport, is launching its Tree Towns Initiative. The idea is to plant fruit and nut trees in the community and run workshops to help people understand how to care for and benefit from them. The group also regularly hosts Climate Conversations to discuss topics around climate change, food and health, and its ‘ELP 2˚ Podcast’ is available on several platforms. Find out more at ediblelandscape.ie.
Foodture is a national organisation that promotes fair food in Ireland via education, and their website lists fair food producers nationwide. They are currently selling 2020 calendars that are available via their members, online at foodture.ie, or at Savoir Fare on Bridge Street in Westport.
For those who want to start growing trees and plants to draw down carbon, enrich the soil and feed their families, there are great options. Fruitandnut.ie has a wealth of information about fruit and nut trees that grow well in the west of Ireland, with special offers on purchasing through the end of January.
Irish Seed Savers is based in Clare and has membership options to support their work preserving heritage varieties of vegetable and flower seeds, and they offer a range of workshops. The Organic Centre in Leitrim also sells organic seeds and offers an array of courses on gardening, biodiversity, foraging and food production.
To demand political change, you can join a recently formed Mayo group called Coastal Communities for Climate Action (head to their Facebook page to find out how). The group meets regularly, and members come together every Friday from 1pm to 2pm at the Octagon in Westport to demonstrate about the climate emergency. Young people who are interested in becoming school strikers can join them every Friday, or join others doing the same on Fridays in front of the Mayo County Council offices in Castlebar.
To continue learning about the issues, there are also great Irish podcasts to listen to, such as ‘Mothers of Invention’, ‘Climate Queens’ and ‘Book of Leaves’, and the Irish Times Weekend also has a good sustainability column.

McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items and gifts.