Earth Day, celebrated on April 22 since 1970, has now expanded to Earth Month, so this week wraps up the global activities on issues relevant to the future health of our planet and the species on it. The goal now is to help more people understand climate change and mobilise to take action to stop it.
Resources are available to continue learning about key issues. The Earth Day website has loads of information about topics like regenerative agriculture and plastic pollution, which can be found at www.earthday.org – the The Earth Day 2021 Toolkit is very good.
At the same time, new initiatives have been launched to support the high-level discussion about the health of the planet by involving people in actions that are of particular interest to them.
The global Fashion Revolution campaign has engaged consumers for eight years, since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh that killed over 1,100 and injured over 2,500 garment workers. Campaigners ask major brands ‘Who made my clothes?’, to highlight the poor working conditions for people who create the clothes that are so readily accessible to us.
This year they focused on the connection between the rights of workers and the rights of nature, so the campaign also asked ‘What’s in my clothes?’ to educate consumers about the widespread use of synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and elastane, derived from crude oil (a fossil fuel). Knowing more about these issues can spur us to make more sustainable and people-friendly clothing choices: choosing secondhand, buying less but better quality and more eco-friendly materials, etc.
Reusable nappy week is also an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of disposable nappies on the environment; it is estimated that they generate 6,731,000 tonnes of waste annually in Europe alone.
According to breakfreefromplastic.org, for one child, from birth to potty training, reusable nappies can save the equivalent of over 14,000 plastic bags and reduce other resources by 98 percent. Additionally, they save a significant amount of money (estimated up to £1,000 stg).
Our family used reusable nappies for our two children, and we used the same nappies (and washable cotton wipes and wet bags) for a total of five years. We quickly developed routines for the washing schedule, and found everyone who interacted with our children, including grandparents and minders, could easily use the nappies.
The Cloth Nappy Library Ireland offers a borrowing scheme, and there are always people selling or giving secondhand nappies, and shops like ours stock new ones (with a discount for multiples).
Although these initiatives are drawing to a close for this year, a campaign closer to home is gearing up, and all the knowledge we’ve gleaned from global campaigns is highly relevant.
The ambition is to make Westport a designated decarbonisation zone, to reduce carbon emissions by 7 percent per year for a 51 percent reduction over the course of the decade. The plan centres around the 7Es: Ecology, Energy, Equality, Education, Economy, Employment and Environment. To find out more, check out @decarbonise_westport on social media.
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.