Cities occupy approximately 3% of the Earth’s surface area but account for 60-80% percent of energy consumption and at least 70% of carbon emissions. Creating safe, resilient and sustainable cities is one of the top priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 11 defines sustainable cities as those that are dedicated to achieving green sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. They enable opportunities for all through inclusive design and maintaining sustainable economic growth. Successful sustainable cities also minimise inputs of energy, water, and food, and reduce outputs of waste, heat, air pollution, and water pollution. Sustainable cities are the cities of the future – where did the concept of sustainable cities originate, what are some examples of sustainable cities and how can we incorporate some of these principles into our own towns and cities here in Ireland? What will it take to make a city like Monaghan more sustainable? Candice Moen takes a closer look.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL AND WHY MUST WE STOP CUTTING IT?
The recent move by Eamon Ryan to ban the harvesting of peat in Ireland caused an uproar. Peat has been used for heating and cooking in Ireland for centuries. Turbary rights, which are part of Ireland’s intangible cultural heritage, have meant that people living in homesteads in rural areas have inherited a right to cut and remove turf from specific plots of peatland linked to these dwelling houses. In more recent times, peat has been used commercially in horticulture and former peatlands have been used for afforestation and in agriculture. But, when we look at peat extraction, and the damage it is doing to what is left of our wetlands, against the backdrop of climate change, biodiversity loss and carbon sequestration, it is inescapably evident that extraction practices cannot continue. The growing impact of smoky fuels on human health also cannot be ignored.
The Curlew is a shorebird and is easily recognised by its long curving bill. As Ireland’s largest wader that is famous for its evocative call, the species is also distinguished by long legs, a bulky grey-brown body with dark streaks, and a long neck.
The long, curved beak is perfectly adapted for probing the wetlands, bogs, salt marshes and other watery terrain for food. The curlew feeds mostly on invertebrates and on insects, earthworms and larvae when wintering inland. According to the http://www.birdwatch.ie, numbers and range of the Curlew have declined substantially in recent decades and it is currently on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is likely that increased afforestation and agricultural intensification are two factors which have contributed to its decline. World Curlew Day raises awareness of curlews everywhere.
There are eight species of curlew worldwide and two are assumed extinct. The Eskimo and the Slender-Billed have not been seen for decades. Out of the remaining six species, there are three that are at risk of extinction – the Eurasian, the Bristle-thighed and the Far Eastern.
This week is Fashion Revolution Week – an annual campaign bringing together the world’s largest fashion activism movement for seven days of action to collectively reimagine a just and equitable fashion system for people and the planet. Our global addiction to “disposable” clothes – buy, wear, throw away, repeat – is putting pressure on our planet and enabling human rights violations against the workers that make them. Greenpeace sums it up perfectly: “The antidote is simple: ethical, sustainable fashion (and a lot less of it)”. Why is fast fashion such a problem and what do the alternatives look like? Candice Moen did some googling and has been having nightmares ever since.
As consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of fast fashion, they are looking for a more sustainable way to shop. Buying vintage clothing is one of the ways we can reduce the impact of fast fashion on the environment and we are very lucky to have a gorgeous shop like Dirty Fabulous here in Monaghan Town!
…a crumbled tyre is still a tyre and remains toxic, regardless of where you put it…
What is crumb rubber? Crumb rubber is made from recycled tyres – they are quite literally ground up into crumbs. These rubber crumbs are then used for a number of purposes including as the infill in artificial turf systems for sports fields. Artificial or synthetic turf has been used since the 1960s – older fields were generally comprised of hard mats of nylon grass and many athletes using these fields complained that the surface was harder than grass and caused more injuries. Newer synthetic turf fields were developed to simulate natural grass fields by using infill material to make the fields softer and by adding plastic grass on the surface. Increasingly, the infill material of choice is crumb rubber, and it can be found in the playing fields of many schools and GAA football pitches across Ireland. A FIFA report in 2017 found that in the period from 2006 to the completion of the report, 3,437 pitches had been certified with the world governing body in 149 countries. [Sam Wallace, http://www.pitchcare.com]
As part of their Transition Year programme, students from St Louis Secondary School brought their focus to a waste issue within the school – the excessive use of plastic. Using Design Thinking, they hoped to find a way to encourage other students and other people in the wider community to change their habits through achievable actions, and this fantastic calendar was the outcome. Here they tell us a bit more about the process they went through in getting to it.
Eat, sleep, poop, repeat – the life of a new-born baby. Babies bring with them lots of joy and sleepless nights but also what can be a fairly hefty environmental impact. It is estimated that from birth to potty training a child can go through between 4,000 and 6,000 disposable nappies which, along with the packaging they come in, generally end up in landfill or incinerators. A disposable nappy can take up to 500 years to decompose and even with improvements in materials some of the so-called biodegradable nappies can take 50 years to break down in landfill. Aside from the environmental cost, there is the financial impact of buying and disposing of nappies which can run to thousands of euro per child by the time they are toilet trained. So what’s the alternative? Sorcha McPhillips gives us an overview of some other options.
READ THIS EXAMPLE OF “AN EASIER WAY TO DO THINGS”!
On a visit to Clive Bright’s farm in Sligo in 2016, as part of a group learning about organic farming, I recall him declaring with a grin that he “considers himself a lazy farmer”. Clive clarified this viewpoint by adding: “I’m always looking for an easier way to do things”. Clive’s statement belies a true passion for farming smarter, and his approach is reaping rewards. By paying close attention to every detail, and questioning the necessity of each step in the farming process, Clive has carved out a viable market for his 100% grass-fed beef. So how does he do it? Dermot McNally shares some insights.
Despite internal disagreement, the EU recently announced that it is proposing to classify energy from nuclear power as green. If a majority of member states back it, it will become EU law in 2023. Dermot McNally takes a look at the arguments involved and the effect this might might have on Ireland.