Sustainable brain food


LOCKDOWN LISTENINGMary Robinson and Maeve Higgins talk climate change with pioneering women leaders from around the world in their entertaining podcast, ‘Mothers of Invention’.

Green Living

McKinley Neal

As most of us can relate, I’ve been listening to more podcasts, reading more and watching a bit more TV on days when the weather is wet, as if I’m not at work, I’m home like everyone else.
With activities currently curtailed, recent chats with my colleagues and friends have thus centred more on what we’re hearing or watching than on what we’re doing, so here’s a quick round-up of some highlights for the autumn and winter.  

The podcast options have exploded in the last few years globally, and there are some incredible podcasts on sustainability produced in Ireland or by Irish people.
Former President and global human rights campaigner Mary Robinson has partnered with comedian and writer Maeve Higgins to highlight inspiring examples of ‘Mothers of Invention’—women around the world who are taking action to stop the climate crisis and highlight issues of climate justice—and it combines great information with a bit of humour.
The ‘Book of Leaves’ podcast is hosted by Ceara Carney in Dublin, and it features interviews with people in Ireland taking action to reduce waste, eat and grow food sustainably, support biodiversity and more. The ‘Climate Queens’ are also based in Dublin and have recently concluded a three-part series highlighting the work of Front Line Defenders working to protect the environment in countries in the Global South.
Sustainable food in Ireland, including locally farmed salmon, apples, flour and organisations and restaurants supporting Irish food producers, is covered by ‘Green Bites’, by Ellie O’Byrne.

You’ve probably heard of the latest David Attenborough documentary, ‘A Life on Our Planet’, in which he shares the defining moments in his work as a naturalist and also the immense changes that he has witnessed to the planet over his lifetime – it’s a sobering watch. ‘Kiss the Ground’ is also newly released, and it focuses on the importance of soil health for the future of our food, with some ideas for regeneration.

One of my favourite books of 2020 is ‘How to Save Your Planet One Object at a Time’, by Dr Tara Shine, co-founder of Plastic Free Kinsale and the organisation Change by Degrees. The book explains the lifecycle of everyday objects, their environmental impact, and how to make better choices in our daily lives while using and eventually disposing of them. Mary Robinson’s ‘Climate Justice’, like the Mothers of Invention podcast, shares the stories of women globally who are working to ensure a sustainable future for us all.
A series of books by Niall Mac Coitir highlights the myths, legends and folklore relating to Ireland’s wild plants, trees, animals and birds, connecting us to the wildlife that has been present on the island through history. Padraic Fogarty’s ‘Whittled Away: Ireland’s Vanishing Nature’ helps us recognise what we are at risk of losing. ‘The Great Big Book of Irish Wildlife’ by Juanita Browne and illustrated by Barry Reynolds is full of great information for kids and adults, and has tips for helping to support biodiversity at home.

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.