In this article I’ve decided to take a tour of the sustainable happenings in my home town of Dublin. I’ve lived in this county, albeit different spots, since birth. I love it’s historical architecture and general friendliness but I hate the lack of civic pride a lot of Dubliners and our governments interest in making it a sustainable city. By supporting those that are trying to lead the way hopefully we can nudge it in the right direction. So if you’re planning a trip to Ireland, or you’re a local looking to reacquaint yourself with the capitol here are some tips on how to do so with a lighter footprint!
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Photo by Gregory DALLEAU on Unsplash
Eating & Drinking
We all know that eating less meat and dairy is the way to go if we want to reduce our carbon footprint and thankfully it’s easier now that it used to be. Vegetarian restaurants are generally available in most restaurants throughout the city, but vegan options will still take a bit more planning. Thankfully The Happy Cow has done all the leg work for you and plotted on a map vegan and vegetarian option throughout the world.
Two other eateries to consider is locally owned and supplied Sprout & Co. They have a lot of vegetarian / vegan options and grow a lot of the produce they use on their own farm less than 30km from Dublin. They also let you use your own containers. The second to consider is the international Mexican fast food chain, Zambrero, they donate a meal to a child in need every time they sell on in their restaurants.
Another great spot is 57 The Headline bar on Clanbrassil St, who pride themselves on using locally sourced quality ingredients.
For desert check out independently owned Three Twenty Ice-cream . They use organic anglaise as a base for their natural ice-cream, which doesn’t contain preservatives and stabilisers, and they source their natural ingredients from local suppliers.
And if/when you need a caffeine fix then be sure to select a cafe that participates in the conscious cup campaign. The cafes have agreed to offer discounts for customers that use reusable cups. Here is a very handy map with all of the participating cafes offering discounts for reusable cups
And to top it all off, here’s a map of public taps and business where you can refill your reusable water bottle.
If you’re able to cook for yourself during your stay you be able to stock up on some package-free groceries at some of the the eco-business shown on my map of eco-businesses in Ireland. I’ve listed sweet shops, greengrocers and butchers that allow you to use your own containers, zero waste stores, health food stores with some eco products and some clothing stores that sell eco-brands. If you click on the text ‘Eco Businesses’ you’ll get a drop down menu of the various categories. It’s the layer named package-free stores that you’ll want.
Sustainable Shopping (Is there really such a thing?)
Unfortunately Ireland has very little to offer in the way of locally made goods in the city centre but there are a few gems. Buy consciously though, although locally made most goods will be made with imported materials.
- The Irish Design Shop on Drury St, Dublin 2 – locally made crafts
- Designist on Georges St, Dublin 2 – it has a few locally made items along with some international brands.
- The Design House, Crow Street, Dublin 2 – these guys have a few items made with existing material
- The Jam Factory Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 and Patrick St, Dublin 8 – Fab limited edition prints by artists living in Ireland.
- Design Lane, Essex St West, Dublin 8
- Scout, Smock Alley, Essex St East, Dublin 8
- We Make Good, Fade St, Dublin 2
If new, albeit beautifully design, stuff doesn’t float your boat there are lots of fab charity shops to check out. See below for a list of streets closest to the city centre with the best choice or check out this article on FAC by Heather Shipman on her favourite charity shops in Dublin.
- South Great Georges St – South Side of the Liffey
- Aungier St – South Side of the Liffey
- Camden St – South Side of the Liffey
- Capel Street – North Side of the Liffey
If you’re looking for something more upmarket we have quite a few designer exchange and vintage stores including
- Siopella , Wicklow St and Cecilia Street, Dublin 2 – designer exchange
- Designer Exchange, Exchequer St and Dawson St, Dublin 2 – designer exchange
- Monto Dash, Parnell St, Dublin 1 – designer exchange and vintage
- Dublin Vintage Factory, Smithfield, Dublin 8 – vintage
- Om Diva, Drury St, Dublin 2 – vintage and new
- Jenny Vander, Georges St Arcade, Dublin 2
- Tola Vintage, Fownes St, Dublin 2 – vintage
- Lucy’s Lounge, Fownes St, Dublin 2 – vintage, opens Thurs to Sun
- Nine Crows, Temple Lane South, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 – Vintage
- Nine Crows, Thrift Store, Pembroke Row, Dublin 4 – Vintage, opens Thurs to Sun
- The Retro Shop, Georges St Arcade, Dublin 2 – Vintage
- Fresh, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 – Vintage
- Cobblers Wardrobe, Sandymount, Dublin 4 – Designer exchange
- Deja Vu, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 – Designer exchange
- A Store is Born, Dublin 2 – Vintage
- Betty Bojangles, Thomas ST, Dublin 8 – Vintage
- Second Abbey, Mary’s Abbey, Dublin 7 – Vintage
There are also a few stores selling clothing from some of the brands listed in my compendiums of sustainable ethical brands. Just search for their name on my website to find out what brands they stock. They include
- Skunkfunk, Blooms Lane, Dublin 2
- Patagonia Outlet on Exchequer St, Dublin 2
- Freshcuts Clothing, Drury St, Dublin 2
- China Blue Shoes, Merchants Arch, Dublin 2
- Quak and Dirk, Marino, Dublin 3 (a bus or bike journey out of the city centre)
And if you’d like to pamper yourself I can heartily recommend the vegan beauticians Skinful Affairs on Exchequer St, Dublin 2. Further afield in Dublin 6 the beauty salon V Claire uses a range of organic skincare products in their treatments and have super friendly staff.
Things to do & Places to Visit
I’ve broken these suggestions down to location so you can choose what suits your time frame best. Most of my suggestions include kids because we can’t seem to get rid of ours!
In City Centre
- Natural History Museum – free impressive museum with stuffed animals. Morbid but interesting.
- Archaeology Museum – fabulous displays of bones close to the centre of town
- Maker Festival run by Dublin City Council in Merrion Sq every July as part of the Festival of Curiosity – great for creative kids
- City Spectacular Festival by Dublin City Council in Merrion Sq every July – fabulous street performers and lots of activities for kids
- One of my favourite, and free, things to do in Dublin is to view the street art. There are some lovely pieces dotted around the city as part of the scheme Dublin Walls, who have very helpfully created a Map of Street Art. In addition to these murals some of our junction boxes have been painted by artists as part of our Dublin Canvas scheme. They have a map on their website or you can check out their Facebook Page for updates on new pieces. This scheme is funded by local authority councils who gives a small amount of money to artists to paint our junction boxes instead of paying council employees to paint them the standard green that is the norm. You can also take a self-directed tour of street art via the website The City Speaks
- Another nice way to spend an afternoon is to view the amateur and professional art for sale around St Stephens Green Park once a month and Merrion Square on Sunday. We’ve bought a few pieces from here over the years.
- And a lovely way to do some social good while you’re here is to hire a homeless person to give you a tour via the social enterprise My Streets.
A short luas / bus or bike trip from City Centre
- Enjoy a coffee amidst a bevy of felines in the vegan cafe The Purr, which is run by Phibsborough Cat Rescue charity. All profits go to this no-kill charity.
- Decorative Arts Museum – fabulous displays of planes, boats (marine museum), costumes in a great setting with lots of places to run around.
- Kite Festival – If you’re in Dublin in June check this out on North Bull Island, Dublin 3. Just avoid the plastic kite making workshop
- Dublin Bay Biosphere
- Dublin City Farm in Clontarf, Dublin 5
- Airfield Urban Farm in Dundrum, Dublin 14
- Outdoor Movies in suburban public parks in August
- Cool Planet Experience, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow– Here you’ll experience a great interactive display to help learn about climate change. They also have a few well priced reusables on sale in reception too.
- Newbarn Farm in Ashbourne, Co Meath.
- Explore Mount Usher Gardens in Ashford, Co Wicklow.
- Sonairte Interactive Visitor Centre, Laytown, Co Meath
- Organic Lavender Farm, Co Wexford.
- Butterfly House at Malahide Castle, Co Dublin
For more ideas on what to do with kids in Dublin I’d suggest you check out the website Dublin City Mum
Naturally the most sustainably way to get around is by foot or bike, after that public transport followed by car. Hit the Road is a very useful website that allows you find the best way to get to somewhere using public transport. If you use the url hittheroad.ie/bus/14 you’ll see the route of the no 14 bus, just change the number to see all another bus route. Google maps can also be very good at giving you the various travel options to destinations.
If you’re not going to be travelling very far and like the idea of pedal power you have two bike rental schemes to choose from. The Dublin Bike Scheme is run by the local council and allows you to buy a 3 day pass for €5 at their credit card terminals. The hire of the bikes is between €0.50 for 30 mins up to €6.50 for up to 4 hours. Bleeper Bikes is a privately run company that facilitates bike rental via it’s free app at a cost of €4 for 5 x 60 min rides or €8 for unlimited bike usage over a 24 hour period. Dublin Bikes need to be returned to one of their designated bike parks around the city but Bleeper Bikes can be returned to any cycle parking location.
So Dublin has 3 forms of public transport, excluding taxis; a tram called the Luas, public buses run by two companies, Dublin bus and Transport for Ireland, and a commuter rail line called the Dart.
You can buy tickets for each individual journeys on all of these but only the Luas and the Dart allow you to use debit or credit cards or give change at their stops / stations. You need to have the exact fare in coins for buses. You can calculate your fare on the Dublin bus website but to avoid all of this hassle, and to avail of cheaper fares, you can buy a Tourists Leap card for between €10 and €40 for 1-7 days. Unfortunately the card is plastic card and expires after 12 months so if you’d a friend in Dublin a more sustainable option is to borrow there’s while you’re here.
Sometimes public transport can’t get us to where we need to go and a car is the only option. If it’s a short journey then taxi is probably the easiest option, after than you’ve car hire. I’m not going to go through all the car rental companies here. Instead I’m going to mention a couple of car-sharing and lift-sharing companies that you may not be familiar.
Go Car is probably one of the best known ‘car-sharing’ schemes in Ireland and you may have spotted their white cars parked around some cities. With their scheme you pay from €8 per hour and
- Fuel is covered as part of the car hire charge and each car has a fuel card in it.
- Insurance is included.
- Parking in Dublin City is FREE!
- You can use your leap card or your phone to unlock the cars so no need for another piece of plastic.
- You can hire cars – fossil fuel and electric – and vans.
- You can hire cars to take from train stations, helping you use public transport for at least part of your journey.
Toyota have jumped on the car-share bandwagon with their Yuko scheme. By hiring one of their Yaris’ for €8 per hour you can avail of;
- Comprehensive Insurance
- Free on-street parking in Dublin city
- 50kms free fuel
When you’re less concerned about driving somewhere than you are about getting there you might consider car pooling or lift sharing. Currently there are very few journeys in Ireland listed on these websites but you never know your luck. The two website to consider are Carpool.com and Liftshare
I have a feeling that I’ve missed out on loads of things so if i have please let me know with a comment and I’ll update this article.