Review of 2021

My Eco Achievments in 2021

Every New Year I do a review of the previous 12 months. Just to get a sense of how far I’ve come and were I need to go. It also makes me feel better when my A type personality feels as if I’m not achieving enough.

Before we delve into that I want to give you a heads up on a little project I’m going to kickstart on Jan 10th, running until Valentines Day. I often find January and February challenging months mentally. Think it might be the grey Irish winter days. So this year, inspired by my friend Kalpana, I’m engaging in a series of simple daily actions to highlight the joy in life. I’m calling it The 2022 Renew and will post an article on it in the coming week.

Nothing mentioned in this article has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your sources to remain independent then please;
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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

This year I published 23 articles, 19 newsletters and 10 Product / Service reviews. Alongside this I continually update existing articles with new information or additonal brands.

I also contributed content for about 10 newspaper and online articles on sustainable living, was featured in 2 news articles, had 3 of my own articles published online and spoke on the radio 7 times.

I gave 22 sustainable living talks (can’t believe it was that many!), participated in 2 panel discussions on sustainability, delivered a module on sustainable cleaning for an educational start-up and facilitated an employee workshop.

Circular Design
I was also delighted to be conferred with a First Class Masters in Product Design for the Circular Economy in November of 2021, a course I’d started in 2019.

As a result of my studies I launched a circular design consultanty, called the Circular Design Institute and now advise manufacturers on how best to prepare for the circular economy.

I was also thrilled to be made an honary member of the Irish Wood and Furniture Manufacturers Network, and asked to represent them on the Circular Economy Working Group of the European Furniture Industries Co-Federation. At our montly meetings we discuss upcoming low-carbon and circular legislation and developments in the industry.

My work involves constantly reading journals, reports and articles and attending webinars, talks and conferences. As a data geek, I adore being able to do this.

As well as being interviewed for an American podcast, Green Living Pod, I started a podcast with a former RTE producer and sustainable living advocate, Sarah Sheeran.

In each episode of our Green Gambit podcast, we challenge someone to live a little greener. From buying nothing new for a month to tackling food waste to making a business more climate friendly.

We follow our participants throughout their journey and get some experts on board to help along the way. We’re all about finding ways to live in a more sustainable way that are doable, practical and can fit in with a regular lifestyle.

Sarah’s working away on editing our second episode, which we hope to release in January.

Other less spectacular achievements but important to me none the less include

  • Avoiding all but one single-use coffee cup over the past 365 days, by either sitting in or using my own reusable cup
  • Avoiding all but one single-use water bottles over the year, by bringing my own reusable one.
  • Trying more vegan products, despite my issues with histamine intolerance
  • Having a vegan afternoon tea for my birthday
  • Switching to vegan butter for baking and vegan mayo
  • Highlighting eco stores I visit on my social media channels
  • Holidaying in two eco campsites this summer
  • Hiring cars from Yuko and Gocar in order to avoid buying a second car
  • Donating plastic bottle tops to the Precious Plastic campaign
  • Donating clean but flat duvets to a local toy maker
  • Donating designer clothes to a resale startup
  • Donating old make-up to a UK based start-up converting it into watercolour paints
  • Donating fabric to local seamstresses
  • Finishing a rug crocheted from worn out clothes
  • Switching to recycled cotton socks
  • Switching to reusable period pants
  • Finding a natural deodorant that works!
  • Buying organic cotton hand towels to replace our threadbare ones
  • Buying a second-hand soda stream, whose cannisters we refill locally
  • Buying a plant bell jar made locally from large upcycled food jars by a social enterprise
  • Growing pea shoots indoors over winter
  • Planting a new tree for my garden, bringing the grand total to 11
  • Installing a second water butt at the front of the house
  • Hosting two blue tits in our nest box, which was made locally by a young man
  • Buying compost bins made locally from Irish grown chemical-free timber
  • Avoiding the compulsion to ‘tidy up’ the garden this winter
  • Successfully encouraging native wild flowers to grow in our weedy lawn
  • Sharing seeds and plants with fellow gardeners
  • Volunteering with the local Grow It Yourself group
  • Switching to locally grown hay for our rescue guineas
  • Being interviewed by a student for a college documentary on sustainability, and another 2 for their theses
  • Sponsoring a seal with Seal Rescue Ireland
  • Planting trees for people instead of giving corporate gifts
  • Donating to charity instead of giving gifts to family
  • Contributing to government-funded food waste research

And then of course there are the things that we’ve been doing every year like

  • Rehoming lots, and lots and lots of stuff via, Facebook Marketplace and local Freecycle groups
  • Rescuing multiple items from local skips, which this year included a bean bag chair, a huge lamp, plant pots and gardening tools
  • Repairing countless items to avoid replacing them, most notably the wall and fence between us and our neighbours
  • Prioritising package-free, locally grown and or organic food where possible
  • Continuing to choose borrowing or renting over purchase where possible
  • Continuing to search for things second-hand as a matter of routine, although more so online that in charity shops this year.
  • Prioritising long-lasting, infinitely recyclable or compostable, repairable products locally when we do have to buy new

A few of my eco efforts this year won’t be repeated including;

  • Making pesto from wild 3-corner leek grown in my own garden – Yuck!
  • Making meringue from Aquafaba. So hard to do and wasteful unless your family eat a lot of chickpeas!
  • Making date paste. I should have know better than to trust a recipe from Instagram! It was sweet and grainy and completely unpleasant

Plan for Next Year
So thanks to my generous supporters this year I’m going to invest in some professional search engine optimisation (SEO) services, i.e. tweaks to get you higher up internet browser results.  I’ve done a lot of work myself on this but it’s always great to see how far a professional can take it.

I also want to jazz up the format of the newsletter. Currently I’m stuck with what WordPress gives me but I’m looking into switching to something a little sexier for 2022!

On that note, I’ll sign off and wish you a wonderful start to the new year.


PS – You can read my other annual reviews here;

Published by Elaine Butler

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

4 thoughts on “Review of 2021

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