Sustainable Living Supports

I’m having a lovely quiet week, which is most welcome after last week’s hectic schedule, not that I’m complaining, it was all good.

It started on Monday with filming for an Irish TV programme called Nationwide. It’s like a round-up of cultural events and points of interest around Ireland. We began filming with package-free dry goods in The Carrots Tail in Rathmines, Dublin 6, then onto The Hopsack for refills of shampoo, olive oil and peanut butter, then Dowlings Butchers for meat in my own containers and then finally to the Irish Cancer Society charity shop for some pre-loved items. Once that was done it was back to my house for the interview and some shots of me pottering around the house – as if I ever get time to do that!

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I hope I was coherent in my interview. It was done after 4 hours of filming and talking so the auld grey cells were a bit fatigued by that stage. The main message I wanted to get out was just how normal and easy making sustainable choices can be, not necessarily the choices I make but everyone can make at least one change to live more sustainably. My hope, and indeed my experience, is that after a person makes one change they go on to make another and another, which gives them the insight and confidence to seek policy changes that have further reaching benefits than individual changes alone. Step by step we create a groundswell of informed and empowered citizens pushing for sustainable and restorative policies at all levels.

Monday didn’t end there. While the film crew for Nationwide were finishing off with some stills in my garden I was upstairs doing an online interview for a scholarship for a Masters in Design for the Circular Economy.

Tuesday was all about applying for rushed passports that we only just realised were out of date a couple of weeks ago. We ended up in this situation as a result of a miscommunication between my husband and I. Who else finds this happens all the time? My lord, sometimes I think we need to hire a full-time interpreter. Being a planner I don’t do rushed, I don’t do last minute, I don’t do time pressure. I found the whole process of applying for emergency passports very, very stressful! One not to be repeated.

Wednesday was spent tending to the garden and nursing the vegetables that I’d moved in preparation for filming on Monday, and were now wilting under the intense heat of a July sun. Lots of water and shading from umbrellas were the order of the day and all but one survived my stupidity! That’s the thing about fruit and veg growing, it’s really, really, time consuming and it won’t wait for you. If a plant needs water it needs it NOW, if it’s being munched it needs protect NOW, if food needs harvesting it needs harvesting NOW. Sometimes it all gets too much for me, but spending 30-40 mins out there every evening really does pay dividends and the fruit and veg garden is trundling along nicely now.

I had a follow up interview for the Masters Scholarship on Thursday but have heard nothing since so suspect it’s been given to someone else. No worries, was wonderful to be considered and managed to get a visit to the fabulous Rediscovery Centre in Dublin 9 as part of the process. (Visit my Instagram Account to see photos)

Friday ended on a positive note with two deliveries; our new passports – a big thank you to all of the staff in the passport office) and an old pedal-powered singer machine from my Aunt. Finally I’ll be able to carry out some bigger repairs and all without electric power!

Saturday I finished wallpapering the IKEA Billy bookcases that we’d bought 9 years ago. They look great but took way more time and wallpaper than I had estimated. Still that’s two less bookcases in landfill now. (Visit my Instagram Account to see photos)

On Sunday we visited the RHSI garden show for one last purchase of organic plants from the only organic nursery in Ireland, Caherhurly nursey, which is closing at the end of September. Do you ever feel like it’s one step forward two steps back for sustainability in Ireland? But there was an upswing, having commented about the plastic bracelets given out at the garden show on Instagram the organisers contacted me about their plans to be more sustainable. I offered to send give them some ideas on how to do this and they asked if I’d be interested in being on a panel discussion next year. Yeah! It’s all moving (slowly) in the right direction.

Now, least you think this is a regular week in my life let me assure you that some weeks the highlight is getting to the bottom of the laundry baskets or finding a new recipe that the whole family will eat!

There is a common thread running through my week, and it’s connections. Pretty much everything I did came about as a result of a connection with someone; the filming was as a result of the article with me in The Irish Times, which was as a result of my blog, which is as a result of my involvement in the Zero Waste Community in Ireland. Hand on heart I can say that there is no way I’d still be writing this blog or making the choices I do if it wasn’t for the learning and support I receive from them.

Living sustainably can be hard at times but it’s much easier when you can share those trials with others having the same experience. If you’re starting on your sustainable living journey, well done. If you find your enthusiasm waning please consider deepening your connection with like-minded people if you can. Offline with friends and family is great but if that’s not an option for you online groups like those listed below will give you sucker to stay the course.

Online Groups

If you’re living in Offaly you might be interested in the group Green Offaly


My life lends itself to podcast listening and I’m always in search of good ones. I’m tremendously picky! The speakers have to be articulate – can’t abide listening to ums and errs, entertaining and informed, the topic needs to be current and well researched and the editing needs to be top quality.

  • John Richardsons and the Futurenauts is a very entertaining well researched UK based eco podcast, full of swearing!
  • Green Bites is a fabulous high-quality audio programme on sustainable food
  • The Green Room – This is a weekly interview with creatives involved in sustainability in Ireland.
  • Book of Leaves – Delighted we have our very own Irish eco podcast. It’s a great way to find out what’s going on in our own little Island.
  • People Fixing the World (UK – review of initiatives to solve environmental and social issues, focusing on assessing their success)
  • Green Dreamer (USA – insightful chats with people working in the sphere of sustainability. Info be a bit depressing at times but it’s reality and it’s very informative)
  • What on Earth (UK – well produced interviews with informed individuals on particular aspects of sustainable living.

Blogs / Vlogs / Websites

Personally I don’t do Vlogs because I don’t have a lifestyle that lends itself to watching videos. Reading text is more my thing. I am actually subscribed to about 20-30 blogs and it was hard to whittle the list down for this article so I settled on 3 criteria for inclusion; I must learn something new them, they must be well researched and they must be inspiring – for me that tends to be visually appealing.

As part of the research for this article I’ve subscribed to a whole host of new blogs, which I’ll add to this list if I think they’ll be of use to you guys.


Can I let you in on a secret? I struggle to get through eco books, either they’re just list of actions, which are worthy and helpful but boring to read or they’re full of depressing facts. I have quite a few on my nightstand and have started most of them, I’m just not inspired to read them. Here’s a list of suggested books from someone with more patience than me!

One book I do have on my list to read is by the journalist George Monbiot. He’s very insightful and writes beautifully. His book is called Out of the Wreckage.

Documentaries / Movies

Okay, time for another secret. I can’t tolerate most environmental documentaries. I even had to watch the BBC programme War on Waste in short bursts so as not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems facing us.  I’ve put the ones I’ve watched at the top of this list, but if you’ve a higher tolerance than me there are others included for you to consider.

Some of these might be available on Youtube or Netflix, or you could try your local library for a copy. Some however are only available to view as part of a community viewing so if you’ve a group of like-minded friends maybe it’d be a good way to get a local group going.

  • The Big Little Farm (TV documentary about 2 people trying to bring a ‘dead’ farm back to life in America. Beautifully shot and heart warming it’s a shot in the arm for anyone suffering with activism exhaustion
  • War on Waste (TV programme on waste in the UK featuring a street of households trying to reduce their own waste. I watched this myself and found it to be a good balance between hard-hitting and inspirational)
  • Grow Cook Eat (TV programme on growing and cooking your own fruit and veg. A fun, accessible way to encourage us all to consider carefully where our food comes from)
  • The Blue Planet (TV programme. Long heralded as the impetus for environmental consciousness in the minds of many living on the British Isles, the beautifully crafted programme can be heartbreaking at times.)
  • Minimalism (Documentary about living with less. This isn’t an environmental documentary in itself but having seen it I do feel it’s appropriate to include as it inspires a move away from mass consumption)
  • Tomorrow (Upbeat documentary looking at solutions to the Climate crisis)
  • Wasted (Documentary on Food Waste)
  • The Island President (Documentary the battle of the leader of the Maldives to save his Island)
  • The True Cost (Documentary on the Fashion Industry)
  • A Plastic Ocean (Documentary)
  • This Changes Everything (Book and Documentary on capitalism and consumer change by Naomi Klein)
  • Before the Flood
  • Ten Billion
  • Thrashed

and here’s another list of environmental documentaries if you’re a real TV junkie

Carbon Footprint Calculators

When you’re further along in your journey you might want to assess how you’re doing. Here are some Carbon Footprint Calculators for you to try, but let me warn you, the results can be depressing if you live in a large house, drive a car, fly and eat meat regularly and have lots of children.

  • Treedom allows you to calculate the carbon footprint of any activity and offset it
  • The Footprint Calculator calculates how many earths are required to sustain your lifestyle
  • WWF Footprint Calculator calculates your carbon footprint based on fuel consumption, food choices and purchasing patterns.
  • Climate hero does the same as above but also allows you to offset your carbon emissions.
  • If you’d like something a bit more accurate check out The Climate Kompass from World Watchers
  • Kagoo helps you calculate the carbon emissions of any appliance and find ways to offset the carbon.
  • Go Plastic Neutral allows you to calculate your plastic footprint and gives suggestions on how to adjust your habits to reduce it. You can also offset the impact of your waste by donating to their charity and non-profit partners.


  • Evocco is an Irish app that helps you track the carbon footprint of your food.
  • Ailuna is an app that aims to make it fun to develop sustainable habits
  • If you’re finding all the sustainable living advice too much One Save A Day simply gives you one suggestion a day to follow. It also has a community on Instagram built around the idea.
  • Think Dirty is an app that gives a product score and vital information on the safety of the ingredients within a beauty product when you scan it.

Consumer Guides


PS – If you’ve any questions or comments please leave a message below or contact me on Instagram or Facebook.

PPS – At this time in previous years I wrote about Summer Crafts with Kids, Our trip to Cornwall (including the Eden Project), and one of my favourite articles Eco-folklore, greenwashing and misunderstandings

Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

2 thoughts on “Sustainable Living Supports

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