Tuesday, August 24, 2021

WHATEVER you do, don’t panic about the demise of the planet. You’ve got this. You got through the last year and a half so you have been in training already. This will stand to you for the next challenges we all face. You just have to up your game now. Every little thing you do now counts.

Just think about all the positive things you are doing already. You are already living a simpler life; less travel, more local shopping and less consumption of useless gadgets and trinkets. You already know how important it is to buy local and support our own. The more Ireland supplies the country with what we need, the less we will have to import. You are contributing to a more sustainable economy every time you buy Irish and local.

You are already recycling. You have already learned how to separate rubbish into different bins. Some of us have learned how to make compost while others are regulars at the bottle recycling centres which are now a common sight. There was a time when these didn’t exist and it’s not too long ago either. You can already take recycling for granted as part of your routine. Now recycle even more and waste nothing!

Look how easy it was to change from plastic bags to reusable bags? Imagine all the toxic plastic you have saved by using your own bags over and over again? Would you go back to plastic bags now? No, why would you? You have already changed and absorbed this new habit as normal life. Who knew it would be so easy? We will continue to learn new ways of doing everything.

Maybe you have been growing a few herbs on a window sill? A pot of chives, your own rosemary for the lamb, a bit of parsley? Or like me, you took up the offer of free seed packets from the local library and planted a few vegetables this year? I discovered that a bed of rocket, grows wild and free like grass as it happens. That beetroot leaves make fantastic spinach and that your own spuds are as much of a treat as any ice cream.

Cheaper food was more attractive until we realised that although it looked perfect it was often loaded with chemicals and pretty tasteless. Can you beat a real Irish Apple or a home-grown lettuce? Grow something! Even if that something is wild; blackberries, dandelion leaves, nettles, etc.

Many of you have experienced the ease of working from home. The joy of less commuting and spending less too. Going to work costs money. You might already have realised that spending more time at home means staying warm when it’s winter and cool when it’s a summer heat wave.

Peat is gone, and coal will soon be gone too, so our open fires are less attractive. Now we need to wrap our homes in insulation and be able to use background low level heat and warm clothes. Wrapping up will be the new normal.

Maybe your kids are already turning up and saying they are now vegan or vegetarian. It has been happening for years and as a result many families now eat less meat. It’s only a hop skip and jump to realising that this is also going to be the way of the future.

Growing more food will mean more variety, veggie goodness and less dependence on meat. I’ve just signed up for my Ballybeg Veggie box this week, organic and grown here in Waterford.

With more of us working from home and gravitating back towards living in rural towns and villages we may not see as many cars on the road. Maybe you have already considered an electric car? Well, that will be the future as our diesel and petrol cars will be phased out completely.  But you already know this and maybe have gotten yourself a bike or are moving towards public transport a bit more. Cars will be expensive and we will travel less in them. The more tracks and trails we have will help us find new routes to our local services.

If you have already thrown up a few solar panels, get used to the idea of having even more. You will also need giant battery systems so that your home can cope when solid fuels are scarce. Because green electricity is the future. There is not enough power to sustain our present highly electrified lifestyle. But you know this already and you probably fancy a few solar panels and the savings that they can bring.

This is not a movie script for some imagined Armageddon. This is now. Grants for upgrading our homes will be vital. As someone said to me the other day, we need to scrap the outdated idea of County Development Plans. We ought to be talking about County Survival Plans.

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